On December 15th, 2016 the US EPA ruling passed! Click here for a fact sheet on the effluent limitations guidelines and standards for dental offices.

Below are what M.A.R.S. feels to be important excerpts from the US EPA Regulation. Below each excerpt is a M.A.R.S. Point of View on the given section of the Regulation. For more extensive information on the new US EPA ruling, please click here.

The EPA Brings Back Mercury Pollution Rule After NRDC Sues

Taken from the NRDC website

In response to an NRDC lawsuit, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency restored a rule to protect the public from mercury pollution.

In December 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a rule to protect Americans from the five million tons of mercury—a dangerous neurotoxin—that dental offices dispose of into the water every year. But on President Trump’s first day of office, the White House directed the agency to withdraw the rule, along with all other rules that were final but not yet published in the Federal Register. It turns out the rollback was illegal—the EPA is required to give the public adequate notice and the opportunity to comment—so NRDC immediately sued. Late last week, the EPA reinstated the protection.

“The EPA is taking an important step toward safeguarding Americans from a dangerous neurotoxin,” said Margaret Hsieh, an attorney on NRDC’s litigation team. “The agency decided to reissue the rule instead of defending in court the decision to withdraw it.  Protecting the public—and not responding to a lawsuit—should have been motivation enough for this sensible action.”

Mercury can disrupt brain function and damage the nervous system. It is especially harmful to pregnant women, babies, and young children, even at low levels of exposure—the EPA itself estimates that more than 75,000 babies are born each year with increased risk for learning disabilities associated with prenatal exposure to mercury pollution.

In addition to power plant emissions, mercury enters our waterways when dentists wash amalgam cavity fillings down the drain. The burden currently falls on wastewater treatment plants to remove the mercury, but that process is highly inefficient. The Mercury Effluent Rule requires dental offices remove the mercury instead, a process that can be accomplished easily with low-cost and readily available equipment.



US EPA Law Breakdown

Summary (Page 2)

Dental offices, which discharge mercury present in amalgam used for fillings, are the main source of mercury discharges to POTWs; most of this mercury is subsequently released to the environment.

This final rule requires dental offices to use amalgam separators and two best management practices recommended by the American Dental Association (ADA).