Amalgam Waste Best Management Practices Program

If you don't recycle your amalgam waste, now is the time to start. In spring 2005, PDA and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) kicked off the Amalgam Waste Best Management Practices (BMPs) program. Pennsylvania dentists are encouraged to voluntarily implement amalgam waste BMPs in their practices. DEP will monitor dentists for amalgam waste BMPs compliance.

When DEP radiation specialists inspect your X-ray units, they also will check for your voluntary participation in the amalgam BMPs program by using a simple checklist PDA helped develop. The DEP radiation specialists will be looking for the following information to determine amalgam waste BMPs compliance:
  • Number of dentists in the practice.
  • Total number of dental chairs.
  • Number of dental chairs with amalgam collection equipment, such as vacuum filters, traps and separators.
  • Containers of contact and non-contact amalgam.
  • Proof of recycling amalgam waste.
    • Name of company recycling amalgam waste.
    • Receipts from the recycling company.
    • Containers storing amalgam waste that will be recycled when full.
PDA and DEP will review the findings to determine how effectively Pennsylvania dentists are implementing amalgam waste BMPs in their offices. As long as the participation rate of the dentists is high, DEP will not pursue potentially burdensome regulations. However, if the participation rate of dentists is low, then DEP will consider enacting the following costly regulations:
  • Eliminating amalgam as a restorative material.
  • By-rule permitting dentists for amalgam waste.
  • Mandating dentists to install amalgam separators.
If you haven't already implemented BMPs, start now and make them part of your office routine. If you need assistance implementing BMPs in your office, PDA has several resources available to you. The Waste Management Guidelines provide recommendations for properly handling and disposing of typical dental office waste. The Quick Reference Card lists the latest contact information and processing requirements for approved waste handlers who recycle or dispose of these materials.

Contact your district's representative to the PDA Environmental Issues Committee. Many EIC members received training on how to explain BMPs to dentists and municipal water authorities through ADA's Train-the-Trainer program. PDA staff also can assist you. If you need more information on amalgam waste BMPs, call (717) 234-5941.