Dental Practices Must Follow EPA Regulations

Dental practices today are required to abide to strict federal (EPA) and state regulations that require them to dispose their bio-hazardous materials properly. Every day, your dental practice accumulates infectious, hazardous and pharmaceutical wastes that when not properly disposed, could impose harm to many people. As EPA’s Resource Conservation regulatory requirement, dental offices should forge proper management of both hazardous and non-hazardous solid materials in order to minimize waste and promote beneficial recycling of materials. 

In general, there are only small amounts of infectious and hazardous waste that are produced in dental practices. Meanwhile, the disposal requirement highly depends on the location and state of your practice. In some states, small quantity generators have other requirements to comply with, such as obtaining an EPA identification number as well as providing additional standardized hazardous waste material storage. 

3 basic waste management requirements: 

  1. All practice-generated hazardous waste material should be identified. 
  1. Storing hazardous waste on site that weighs more than 2,200 pounds is not allowed. 
  1. All hazardous waste to an off-site treatment, recovery or disposal facility should be delivered. 

Hire a professional to reduce risk 

There are certain risks in managing hazardous materials and tapping the help of reputable companies that specializes in transportation, disposal and professional handling of waste could help reduce the risk and uncertainty of your practice. With the help of a professional, you can acquire: 

  • On-site waste containment and management 
  • Regular scheduled pickup 
  • Record of office-produced regulated waste 

It’s necessary for you to understand that EPA RCRA regulations stipulate all-inclusive cradle to grave hazardous waste management system. It tracks how your practice disposes the waste from when it was collected. You have to make sure that you follow the given state requirements, which can be found on EPA’s online resource (http://www.envcap.org/statetools/hzrl/). The link provides a complete breakdown of all requirements and regulations within your state, as well as guidance, contact information and other important resources.  

EPA is strict in mercury discharges 

The mercury pollution is a global issue that requires immediate solution. It negatively affects the environment and stays there for a long time. It is bioaccumulative, meaning it can cause severe neurotoxic to humans. Bioaccumulation is actually condition when organisms absorb adverse substances like mercury, in a fast rate that can be removed through excretion or catabolism.  

The EPA found out that dental practices are the main sources of mercury, and that is often discharged into public water works systems. According to research, 5.1 tons of mercury is discharged each year and most of this is subsequently released in the environment. Because of this, EPA proposed new technology-based, pre-treatment water standards under the Clean Water Act. It is meant to control the discharge of such chemical into public water treatments and sewers – all coming from dental practices, both existing and new.  

It was concluded that the easiest way to remove concentrated mercury from public water stream is to regulate it from the dental practices directly. According to EPA research, dental practices have installed amalgam separators in order to implement the best management practices and ancillary metals are now found in dental amalgam, into public water systems.  

New EPA regulation update 

Just this past July 14, 2017, the EPA approved a regulation, requiring dental practices and schools today that discharge waste into public water system to install an amalgam separator by July 14, 2020.