Dentists must keep mercury from reaching water treatment plants

Rule will reduce mercury discharges by 5.1 tons per year

Posted June 14, 2017

An EPA final rule requiring dental offices to reduce discharges of mercury into city sewers becomes effective on July 14, 2017. Dentists have until July 14, 2020, to comply with the new requirements.

Specifically, the rule establishes technology-based pretreatment standards under the Clean Water Act (CWA) to keep mercury and other metals found in waste dental amalgams, or fillings, from reaching municipal sewage treatment plants. The final rule requires dentists to use amalgam separators and two best management practices recommended by the American Dental Association.

However, the final rule also eases the oversight and reporting requirements found in EPA’s general pretreatment regulations that would otherwise apply under the CWA.

In the end, the new pretreatment standards are expected to annually reduce the discharge of mercury by 5.1 tons along with 5.3 tons of other metals to municipal treatment facilities.


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