As described in Part 1 (How to NOT Become a Part of the 70% of Non-Compliant Dental Practices with an Amalgam Separator – Part 1) of this blog, most amalgam separators currently in North American Dental Practices require weekly inspections and maintenance; a required process often neglected due to lack of education. Above all, M.A.R.S is an environmentally friendly company; we believe it is the responsibility of amalgam separator manufacturers to ensure their customers have all the required information to maintain their amalgam separators correctly. Below is a list of different type of amalgam separators and a general description of their required maintenance. For the detailed maintenance requirements visit the Preventative Maintenance page on the M.A.R.S website.
Filter Type Amalgam Separators
The filter-based amalgam separators are split up into two sections; the upper chamber and the filter section.
The upper chamber is the air/water separator; this is where the air, water, bio-film and toxic sludge enters the system from the dental chairs. Most of the air moves through the manifold at the top of the air/water separator, some of the air is used to draw the heavy material and water into the filter. Most of these filter systems have a reduction of flow when leaving the upper chamber and entering the filter. Most commonly the reduction of flow is reduced to ¾” or less; this is where clogging is the most common on these systems. Often a large piece of bio-film is pulled over the top of the filter inlet, causing the toxic sludge to build in the upper chamber. The weekly inspections are required to check the upper chamber for this clogging.
The filter section is where the heavy material, such as amalgam, prophy paste, oxides, and pumice settle. Once the heavy material settles, the water is suctioned through the outlet end of the filter, leaving the amalgam separator, removing only the solid mercury. The filter is required to be inspected with a flashlight weekly as these systems are known to fill quicker than the manufacturer advertised service life of 12 months. This must be done or you will be at risk of being considered as one of the Non-Compliant Dental Practices.
Decanting Amalgam Separators
Decanting systems are of a straightforward design, low-cost but require a lot of care and maintenance. They are settling tanks that capture the daily use of anything suctioned through your evacuation system. The decanting systems are needed to be inspected daily and decanted every morning or every other morning, depending on the size of your practice. Though these systems are not common, those Dental Practices who do tend to have these systems are not keeping up with the required maintenance. If these decanting type of systems do not receive regular maintenance, it is known to cause a by-pass, which results in a risk of being considered as one of the Non-Compliant Dental Practices and could damage your equipment, such as your pump.
The way you maintain these systems is by inspecting your water level and sludge level every day or every other day. When the system is full of water, turn the appropriate ball valves and decant the excess water from the system after the heavy material had the night to settle. Please remember; the decanting straw always has to be a minimum of 1 ½” – 2” above the sludge level. Once the sludge level has reached the full line, empty the system into a disposal bucket and have it recycled by a company with the appropriate recycling licenses. Be sure to wear the proper protective gear when cleaning these systems as you will be exposing yourself to methylmercury.
Chair-side Amalgam Separators
Once again, not a typical amalgam separator on the market, but there are a few styles of these systems. The maintenance of these types is roughly the same. These systems are usually sold in bulk as they need to be changed annually on each chair or when you lose suction, whichever comes first. It is recommended to keep extra units in stock for when the system requires changing as suction could be affected mid-procedure. This must be done or you will be at risk of being considered as one of the Non-Compliant Dental Practices.
LibertyBOSS Amalgam Separator
The LibertyBOSS is different than any other amalgam separator on the market. The M.A.R.S LibertyBOSS tests at the EPA Standard 245.7, the same method used by Water Treatment Plants. The 245.7 tests for soluble mercury, which is roughly 50% of what mercury released from an ISO 11143 tested amalgam separator. Only amalgam separators with a large, capable media component can capture soluble mercury.
The LibertyBOSS is a settling based system, similar to the decanting system, as we both have large capacities. The difference is the LibertyBOSS uses gravity to decant the water automatically. Once the solids have settled out, the water travels over our settling leg and into our media bed. Our media bed makes the LibertyBOSS the Best Available Technology because it is the only amalgam separator with the ability to capture soluble mercury.
Conclusion of How Not to be A Part of Non-Compliant Dental Practices
M.A.R.S hopes you have found this information helpful in protecting your office and keeping your current amalgam separator compliant. If you wish to upgrade your amalgam separator to the no maintenance M.A.R.S LibertyBOSS, please do not hesitate to contact M.A.R.S at 1-866-594-3648 to find a Trusted M.A.R.S Distributor near you.