Today we will be covering the maintenance of the SolmeteX units, the disposal of their filters and any additional notes missed by our previous blogs.
The required service, maintenance, and inspections of amalgam separators can be confusing for some, to further complicate the matter, many amalgam separators have a lengthy and continuously changing user manuals. M.A.R.S has created this blog series to help Dental Professional make educated decisions on what amalgam separator to choose for their practice, as well as assist those practices with an amalgam separator to service them properly.
Our first segment started with the amalgam separator that requires the least amount of work, maintenance or inspection, the M.A.R.S LibertyBOSS. We will be continuing part three of the SolmeteX brand of amalgam separators. Part 1 of this blog highlighted the recommendations for the installation of the many different SolmeteX amalgam separators on the market. Part 2 explained the required WEEKLY inspection and troubleshooting suggestions from SolmeteX on their brand of amalgam separators.
Every amalgam separator manufacturer includes ISO Testing related information such as;
– maximum fillable volume (950 mL)
– maximum flow rate (15” Hg)
– Amalgam Separator Type (type 2 – sedimentation)
– Maintenance and Inspection Requirements (Weekly inspections, Maintenance – every 12 months or when full, whichever comes first)
(The bolded items above is the information pertaining to the SolmeteX amalgam separators.)
As most amalgam separators are sedimentation based, heavy material like prophy paste, varnish, oxides, and pumice will often fill the amalgam separator quickly. Filter based amalgam separators, due to their smaller capacity, will usually not make it to their maximum service life of one year. The average filter use is roughly every six months. For those offices that may not fill your filter based amalgam separator, you are still required to change the filter annually as the media inside their system is only rated for one year.
As you can see in the video above, SolmeteX VP of Marketing, Mike Toole, states that many Dental Professionals experience the filter changes more often than the 12-month maximum service life. For those of you being notified differently by your service company, it would be a good idea to get a written guarantee from your supplier to ensure you get the full-service life you were promised when purchasing your system.
Changing the Collection Container
When changing filtered based amalgam separators, you are exposing yourself to methyl-mercury; precautionary measures are recommended. SolmeteX suggests face and skin protection when exchanging filters. These measures should also be taken when dealing with a spill or leaking system.
Any material cleaned up from a spill or leak is required to be handled and disposed of correctly as toxic waste.
As it can be seen from the photo of the maintenance section of the SolmeteX user manual, the Hg5 brand of amalgam separator, like most amalgam separators, calls for the DAILY use of a neutral pH, non-foaming evacuation line cleaner. A process that should already be done in every office, as it is required by the Center for Disease Control – Oral Health Division. Please see the Notes section below regarding the pH level of evacuation line cleaners.
For most amalgam separators, shipping and disposal are included in the initial cost of the system. Though SolmeteX often boasts about their recycling system, they do sell options of filters without disposal included; be sure you are aware which filter you are purchasing. If you are buying a SolmeteX filter without recycling, please note that in the United States, any toxic waste produced in a Dental Practice is required to be recycled within 12 months. So in the case of amalgam separators, once the filter is full and has been removed from service, the filter is required to be recycled within a year. Some areas, like Ontario, Canada, the Ministry of Environment requires written notice of toxic storage for any waste that is stored in a practice for more than 90 days. It is essential to know and understand the rules of your local regulating bodies before purchasing an amalgam separator for your practice.
Not following the SolmeteX disposal instructions, or choosing the wrong filter package can result in your office being non-compliant due to the toxic waste being stored in your office.
SolmeteX Pre-Paid Disposal
Below we will be reviewing the procedure of disposal provided by SolmeteX for their Hg5 filters that have pre-paid recycling.
Once you have replaced your full Hg5 filter and sealed the filter in the same packaging the new filter arrived in, you are to visit the SolmeteX website to follow the instructions above. While following the instructions on their website, you will use your account number and zip code to get your shipping label from SolmeteX. Print the label, put it on the box with the old filter, call the courier and have the system sent for recycling.
Canadian Dental Practices
Unlike in America, SolmeteX does not have a system in place for their Canadian customers. The recycling of the full Hg5 filters is often dependant on which Province you are practicing in and which Service Company you use to maintain your amalgam separator. Evident in the photo above, many “Pre-Paid” filters go without recycling, leaving many Dental Practices non-compliant as the recyclers are not following through with the services they have already been paid to do. For those Canadian Practices with pre-paid Hg5 filters in their practice, it is suggested to contact the recycler and aggressively require a pick-up of the filter you paid to be recycled, or get a refund (roughly $150). If you get the refund, you will then have to find a recycler who will take the Hg5 filters for recycling.
Venus Recycling is one company that does accept Hg5 systems for proper disposal. They can be reached at 1-905-723-2227.
Despite the update of the SolmeteX user manuals, they are still listing evacuation line cleaners with the pH of 6-10 acceptable. It appears that SolmeteX has not fully updated their knowledge on the new EPA Regulation. It has been found by mercury experts that mercury will dissolve into a soluble form faster when submerged in a non-neutral pH liquid.
If a dental practice uses an evacuation line cleaner outside the pH range of 6-8, they can be found non-compliant by your local regulators.
Maximum Practice Service Size
When purchasing an amalgam separator for your practice, ensure the system you are being sold is appropriately sized for your size practice. It is not safe to assume your service company knows the suitably sized system to install in your practice to keep you compliant. It is recommended to confirm the amalgam separator isn’t undersized for your office. Recently, M.A.R.S had to educate the Service Manager of one of the largest Service Companies in Canada on the maintenance, and maximum service size of a SolmeteX Hg5 system. Dental Service Companies have many product lines that they are required to be experts on, unfortunately, if adequate and repetitive training isn’t provided on any of those products, the accurate service supplied with that product can suffer. It is common for service companies to have limited knowledge of an amalgam separator, resulting in non-compliance.
The following is the breakdown of the maximum size each of the SolmeteX systems can service;
Hg5 Mini and NXT Hg5 Mini = 1 -4 chairs
Hg5 and NXT Hg5 = 1-10 chairs
Hg5 HV and NXT Hg5 HV = 1 – 20 chairs
Next Amalgam Separator
Thank you for following the three-part series on the SolmeteX User Manuals. Our next amalgam separator is closely related to the SolmeteX amalgam separators, as it was created to fit on the Hg5 systems. Though the amalgam separator has changed names a few times and has been private labeled by some companies, the original name was the Apavia AVTmax.