“Why,” “Who,” “When,” “What” and “How”; Questions About the EPA Amalgam Separator Regulation:  “How” to Guarantee Compliance Part 1

“Why,” “Who,” “When,” “What” and “How”; Questions About the EPA Amalgam Separator Regulation: “How” to Guarantee Compliance Part 1


Thank you for following the M.A.R.S Blog Series on the EPA Amalgam Separator Regulation. You may have already read the first sixth blogs of this series; “Introduction to the EPA Amalgam Separator Compliance Blog Series” – ““Why” Dental Practices Require Amalgam Separators” – ““Who” will be Regulating and Implementing the Amalgam Separator Regulation” – “”When” Dental Practice is expected to Comply” – ““What” is expected from Dental Practices.”

The sixth blog of this series will be discussing how to ensure your Dental Practice will be compliant with any current or future Regulations.

How to Comply with the EPA Amalgam Separator Regulation and Your Local Control Groups

How to comply with the EPA Amalgam Separator Regulation and your Local Control Groups can be split into two categories. Those Dental Practices who do not have an amalgam separator and those who do have an amalgam separator. For those of you who already have an amalgam separator and you think are already in compliance, please continue reading this blog as 70% of amalgam separators are found to be non-compliant.

If you have read the “Who,” “When” and “What” of this Blog Series, you would already know that Local Control Groups will regulate most of the American Dental Practices. These groups have the rights to supersede the EPA Regulation and require higher standards of Dental Practice at any time. This blog will focus on how to choose the right amalgam separator that will guarantee your compliance with your Local Control Group Standards.

Dental Practices Without an Amalgam Separator

Choosing an amalgam separator may seem like a task that does not warrant much thought, but please consider the following;

– Choosing the wrong amalgam separator could leave your Dental Practice in non-compliance. A Non-compliant amalgam separator could result in having your Local Control Group requiring you to upgrade equipment, change your plumbing and it could even result in your practice being shut down.

– The wrong amalgam separator could cause OSHA issues due to your staff’s exposure to methylmercury. For amalgam separators that require regular maintenance and inspection from the Dental Practice, OSHA recommends safety equipment including a respirator rated for mercury gases. (OSHA- Inorganic Mercury and its Compounds pg. 6-7)

– If an amalgam separator requires maintenance, you are considering the wrong system. If not maintained to manufacturer specifications, a poorly managed amalgam separator could damage your equipment.

– Systems, like filter type amalgam separators, are high cost and high maintenance, often costing two to three times more than a no maintenance amalgam separator.

Studies have shown those high maintenance amalgam separators that require weekly inspections and regular maintenance, such as filter type systems, have a higher chance of failure due to human error.

EPA Amalgam Separator

The right amalgam separator will;

– Require NO maintenance for up to 3 years. – Designed to be 0% exposure, as there is no need to have it opened in your dental practice. – Comes with a Guarantee of Compliance – Protects your suction pump from large debris, saving you money on required maintenance and downtime. – Adds value to your Dental Practice by offering a FREE Advertising Program

Researching for the Right Amalgam Separator

M.A.R.S encourages Dental Professionals to take their time when choosing the right amalgam separator for their Dental Practice. Some points to consider when researching for an amalgam separator;

1) Inquire about Total True Costs of the Amalgam Separator: On systems like filter based amalgam separators; the maintenance, inspections, and filters often are more expensive than the initial investment. These systems are designed on the Gillette Principle; this is why they will give you a “free” amalgam separator, as the money is made on the maintenance. Many service companies choose these types of systems as they help further their bottom line, just because it may be the only unit they sell, it does not make it the best unit on the market.

2) Required Maintenance: As mentioned in the “What” blog in our series; many Local Control Groups require logs on the required inspections and maintenance of your amalgam separator. Be sure to read the user manual for any amalgam separator you are considering of purchasing, as you will be required to follow those specifications. Try to purchase an amalgam separator that requires NO maintenance.

3) Guarantee to Comply: Mentioned in other blogs of this series, many Local Control Groups do not have their BMPs set. For those Local Control Groups who do have their BMPs written, those could change as new requirements are expected of the Local Control Groups. Because of this constant state of change and uncertainty, whichever amalgam separator you purchase, be sure it comes with a guarantee to comply with any current and future regulations. An ISO tested amalgam separator does not mean it will meet the standards of your Local Control Groups. Be sure the manufacturer of the amalgam separator you are considering has the confidence in their product to offer a Written Guarantee of Compliance.

Please take your time when deciding on an amalgam separator, consider the suggested factors above, and do not rush into a decision. Most of the United States has time to make an informed decision, as their Local Control Groups have not written their BMPs. The second part of this blog and the last segment of our Blog Series is for those Dental Practices who already have an amalgam separator, but may not meet their local standards.

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