Pennsylvania Dental Journal March April 2017 - Page 12

G ove r n men t Re lat ions Environmental Protection Agency Issues Final Ruling on Amalgam Separators On December 15, 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a final rule requiring dental practices to install amalgam separators. However, due to an executive order issued to federal agencies on January 20, all new and pending regulations have been frozen so that the Trump administration has the opportunity to review the regulations. The mandate is similar to what has been issued by previous administrations, and it applies to any regulation that has not been published in the Federal Register or yet taken effect. The EPA amalgam separator rule was finalized on December 15, but because it had not yet been published in the Federal Register, the regulation has been withdrawn. The ruling was scheduled to take effect in February, but has now been postponed. EPA will have to resubmit the rule. Here are the key points of the ruling that was published in December which may take effect if EPA chooses to resubmit the ruling once the mandate has been lifted. The rule closely followed ADA Best Management Practices for Amalgam Waste (BMP), incorporating three of them: 1) Requiring the use of separators 2) Prohibiting the flushing of waste amalgam down a drain 3) Prohibiting the use of bleach or chlorine-containing cleaners that may leave the dissolution of solid mercury when cleaning-chair side traps and vacuum lines The rule would take effect 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, but the compliance date for most dentists would be three years from the date of publication. Existing practices need to have amalgam separators installed in their offices within a time frame of three years, where as new constructions would be required to have separators installed immediately. Offices that already have separators installed would not be required to immediately replace their separators, but within 10 years or the lifetime of the unit (whichever comes first) their separators would need to be replaced with separators that meet the standards set by the rule. Any separators or other amalgam removal devices installed must achieve at least 95 percent removal efficiency. Dental offices that exclusively practice one or more of the following specialties would be exempt from any rule: oral pathology, oral and maxillofacial radiology, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics, periodontics and prosthodontics. There would also be exemptions for mobile dental units, for dental offices that do not place amalgam and only remove amalgam in unplanned or emergency situations, and for dental 10 MA R CH / A P R I L 2017 | P EN N S YLVA N IA D EN TA L J O UR N A L offices that do not discharge wastewater into a publicly owned treatment works. Dental offices would submit a one-time compliance report indicating that they have separators installed in their offices, or that they are exempt from the ruling because they do not place amalgam and only remove in unplanned situations. A compliance report would also be submitted when there is a transfer in ownership of the practice. Although less than one percent of mercury released into the environment from man-made sources comes from dentistry, ADA has encouraged dental offices to follow BMP in order to reduce discharges of used amalgam into wastewater. In 2007, ADA amended its BMP to include the use of amalgam separators that comply with the International Organization for Standardization, a worldwide federation of national standards bodies. ADA and PDA will closely monitor this issue and as more information on EPA’s …΅…±…΄Ν•Α…Ι…Ρ½ΊΙΥ±”‰•½΅•Μ…Ω…₯±…‰±”°)έ₯±°‘₯ΝΝ•΅₯Ή…Ρ”Ρ‘…Ё₯Ή™½Ι΅…Ρ₯½ΈΡΌ΅•΅‰•ΙΜΈ