Reviewing M.A.R.S’ EPA Regulation Flowchart – Compliant Amalgam Separators

Our blog series on the EPA Regulation Flowchart continues, breaking down the information you need to keep your office in compliance. So far, we have discussed; – Exemptions – Compliance Deadlines – Compliance Reports

Today, we will be reviewing Compliant Amalgam Separators, what is expected and what you should know.

Compliant Amalgam Separators

There is more to EPA compliance than simply having an amalgam separator, not understanding this fact leaves many Dental Professionals non-compliant. According to a survey completed in a major North American City, 70% of Dental Practices with an amalgam separator are non-compliant. Almost all amalgam separators (except the LibertyBOSS), require some sort of maintenance or inspection on a regular basis. The inspections and maintenance is to ensure the system functions as intended, without the appropriate maintenance/inspections, some amalgam separators can enter into by-pass. An amalgam separator left into by-pass not only leaves you non-compliant, but it can damage vacuums and void warranties.

Best Management Practices

Compliant Amalgam Separators

The following is a breakdown of the BMPs required to keep your office compliant;

1) Keep Compliance Reports

For the lifetime of your ownership of the Practice, keep a copy of the Compliance Report you supplied your local regulator. As described in the previous blog in this series, you must keep updating this report anytime new information is submitted to your local regulator.

2) Monitor to Manufacturer’s Specifications

It is important to read the user manual of the amalgam separator you have installed in your office. The maintenance and inspection requirements should be shared with your staff, and a copy of the manual should be kept of file. If you would like more information about the maintenance and inspections of your amalgam separator, you can find a blog series on the M.A.R.S website that breaks down all the important information found in the user manuals of the top six amalgam separators sold in North America. We also provide 5-minute Preventative Maintenance videos on these systems as well.

3) Maintain to Manufacturer’s Specifications

There are many factors that can affect the service life of your amalgam separator;

  • Amalgam Separator Brand
  • Number of Total Chairs
  • Number of Hygienists
  • Number of Doctors
  • Brand of Evacuation Line Cleaner Used
  • How busy is the Practice?

Based on the information above the accurate service life, maintenance and inspections of an amalgam separator can be determined in each office. Below is a maintenance guide used by Water Treatment Plant Inspectors when inspecting the compliant amalgam separators of Dental Practices.

Service

4) Neutral pH Evacuation Line Cleaner

In 2014, a mercury expert had found that mercury amalgam dissolves into a soluble form when introduced to a liquid. The dissolve rate increases when that mercury amalgam is introduced to a non-neutral pH liquid. Due to these findings, the EPA Regulation requires Dental Practices not to allow any solutions that enter an amalgam separator to be outside the pH range of 6-8. In addition, these solutions are not allowed to have oxidizing or acidic properties. To see the findings of the 2014 Purves Environmental study, please view the graph below.

pH levels (3)

Up Next – Record Keeping

A large part of keeping compliant is ensuring the inspection and maintenance completed on your amalgam separators is kept on record in your Dental Practice. Without records, your office can be found to be non-compliant.