EPA Regulation and Compliance: A Quick Overview

EPA Regulation and Compliance: A Quick Overview

A few years ago, the EPA made it illegal for Privately/Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTWs) to dilute their discharge to meet the mercury discharge limits. Many POTWs were waiting on the EPA regulation before they acted on requiring an amalgam separator. According to an expert who consults with POTWs across the U.S., the POTWs had hoped that the EPA would write a regulation that would suit their needs for mercury discharge from Dental Practices. Many of the POTWs were disappointed to hear that the EPA Regulation neglected to include soluble mercury discharge. Soluble mercury is a large concern for POTWs, because they currently do not have the technology to remove it from the water at the plant. They have to rely on capturing the soluble mercury at the source, which is known to come from Dental Practices.

The POTWs’ Power

Without a strong regulation set by the EPA, what power do the Water Treatment Plants have?

The EPA Regulation did include a section which passed the responsibility of creating, implementing and enforcing Best Management Practices to Control Groups, POTWs being a part of those Control Groups. This section of the EPA Regulation allows Control Groups to supersede the EPA Regulation and create BMPs that will better suit the requirements of the Control Group. Many of these Control Groups are adopting the EPA Regulation recommendation of “Best Available Technology”. This is why potentially, different Regions of your State could have different BMPs than your Region. You may notice that some Regions of your State may already require Dental Practices to have an amalgam separator, other Regions could still be developing their BMPs or waiting until July 2020.

How to Choose the Right System

When considering an amalgam separator, the cost and maintenance of an amalgam separator could be irrelevant. If your amalgam separator does not meet the standards of your local Control Group, you could be wasting your money. According to the EPA Regulation, your local Control Groups have the legal right to require you to upgrade your amalgam separator to “Best Available Technology” if your system does not meet their stricter standards (higher than the EPA Regulation requirements and ISO standards). Before you purchase any amalgam separator, get a Written Guarantee of Compliance from the manufacturer. You want the guarantee to state that the manufacturer will make sure your practice will stay compliant by meeting or exceeding ALL standards, current, and future. As mentioned above, the reason you want to have a guarantee for the future, many Control Groups, have not yet set their standards. By having a guarantee from the manufacturer, no matter what future standards are set, you will be protecting your practice because your compliance is guaranteed.


M.A.R.S Distributors know that most Water Treatment Plants test at a standard higher than ISO 11143, which all but M.A.R.S amalgam separators compare themselves. The M.A.R.S LibertyBOSS tests at the EPA Method 245.7, the same standard used by Water Treatment Plants. The 245.7 tests for soluble mercury, which is roughly 50% of what is released from an ISO 11143 tested amalgam separator. Only amalgam separators with a large, effective media component have the capability to capture soluble mercury. If your amalgam separator matches those standards, you have an amalgam separator that will keep your office compliant, if you don’t, you might be forced to reinvest in better technology.

Need More Information?

Please see the following blog on Dental Town – The Most Accurate Understanding of the EPA Amalgam Separator Regulation

This blog should help clarify any confusion you may have about the new Amalgam Separator Regulation and what is expected from Dental Practices.

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