M.A.R.S often hears the same questions over and over from the Dental Industry. Many of these questions are formed by either getting incorrect information from the wrong source or getting the correct information from the right source and not understanding. M.A.R.S releases our weekly blogs with the hope of providing the right information that cannot be misinterpreted.
As more questions arise throughout the Dental Industry regarding amalgam separator, EPA Compliance, and evacuation line cleaners, M.A.R.S will keep posting versions of this ongoing blog series. These blogs will only have one general theme “common questions,” the questions may not be related, just answered in the order in which we receive them.
The last blog of this series discussed why some amalgam separator fill faster than advertised and the misunderstanding of the stability of mercury amalgam.
Today, we will be tackling the questions on amalgam separator pre-filters, why the Dental Industry is the focus of the EPA and Water Treatment Plants, and where the mercury goes once it leaves your Dental Practice.
Can I Install a Pre-Filter In front of My Amalgam Separator to make it Last Longer?
In the past, M.A.R.S has toyed with the idea of adding pre-filters to our amalgam separator. The problems we had during the testing periods were the following;
a. The pre-filters will be clogged quickly, causing suction loss, due to the obstruction of bio-film, prophy paste, and other material suction through the dental chair.
b. Any system in front of an ISO tested amalgam separator is considered toxic waste and will need to be handled and disposed of accordingly, further adding to your cost.
Why is the Dental Industry being targeted? What about Other Industries like Coal-Burning Power Plants?
Coal-burning power plants have been adding atmospheric mercury to the environment. That industry has been regulated, requiring powerful scrubbers to capture the vaporous mercury. The Dental Industry is the last remaining contributor of mercury into our waterways.
As mention in other M.A.R.S blogs, in 2014 the EPA told Water Treatment “solution is not the solution to pollution.” Meaning, Water Treatment Plants can’t buy thousands of gallons of clean water to dilute the effluent discharge to meet the EPA’s standard on mercury. The average Water Treatment Plant in the United States has an EPA Standard discharge of 12 ng/L of mercury. For many Water Treatment Plants, it is hard for them to meet those standards, the only solution they have is to stop the pollution from the source. Through testing, the Water Treatment Plants traced the highest origin of mercury discharge back to the Dental Industry.
According to a study released in 2002 by the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario found that the average Dental Practice was releasing on average 30,000,000 ng/L of mercury into our waterways. The Dental Industry is one of the last to be regulated for mercury discharge.
Where do the Amalgam Separator Manufacturers Send the Mercury for Processing?
Many Dental Professionals have no idea what happens to the mercury waste when they send it out of their Dental Practice. All of the waste generated in North America ends up in one of two countries; Austria or Germany. Those companies are called Metasys (Austria) and Medentex (Germany). Here is where they remove any precious metals from the toxic sludge, such as silver, gold, mercury, and tin.
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