Mandatory Amalgam Best Management Practices (BMPs)

Mandatory Amalgam Best Management Practices (BMPs)
Concern about the effects of mercury in the environment has
increased over the years. Mercury in the form of amalgam is
commonly introduced into dental wastewater as a result of
amalgam placements and removals.
Mandatory Amalgam Best Management Practices (BMPs)
For Minimization of Mercury in Wastewater Discharges from
Dental Practices
Concern about the effects of mercury in the environment has
increased over the years.
The American Dental Association (ADA) discourages the use of bulk elemental
mercury, also referred to as liquid or raw mercury, for use in dental offices. Any bulk
elemental mercury must be recycled or disposed of as hazardous waste. Do not pour
bulk elemental mercury waste in the garbage containers, red bags or down the
Use precapsulated alloys and stock a variety of capsules sizes on hand to
more closely match the amount triturated to the amount needed in the restoration in
order to minimize the amount of amalgam waste generated. Recycle used disposable
amalgam capsules. Do not put used disposable amalgam capsules in biohazard
containers, infectious waste containers (red bags) or regular garbage containers.
Install plastic disposable chair-side amalgam traps in both the vacuum system and
cuspidor of each operatory where restoration work is done.
Change these chair-side amalgam traps frequently.
Recycle the content of the traps. Never rinse these traps in the sink.
Change vacuum pump filters and screens at least once per month or as directed by
the manufacturer. Carefully seal the vacuum screen in its plastic container, including any
water that may be present, and store it in an airtight container with
other amalgam waste for recycling purposes.
Refrain from using sodium hypochlorite (bleach) to disinfect vacuum lines. The use
of bleach speeds the release of mercury in the sewer system.
Consider installing an approved amalgam separator in the vacuum line at each
chair or in a central location that receives vacuum line wastewater from all chairs
to remove amalgam waste particles from dental office wastewater. Contact a dental
equipment supplier, vendor or the manufacturer of the amalgam separator to confirm
that the amalgam separator you have selected from the approved list is compatible with
your system and appropriate for your office. Make arrangement for proper and regular
monitoring and maintenance of the unit.
Contact an amalgam waste recycler about any special requirements that may exist
for collecting, storing and transporting amalgam waste. It is important to select a
reputable amalgam recycler that complies with applicable federal and state laws and
provides adequate indemnification for its acts and omissions. A directory of
Amalgam Recyclers has been compiled from information supplied by companies listed in
website and other public information sources at the American Dental Association
(ADA) website:
Amalgam waste includes:
• Non-contact amalgam (scrap): excess mix leftover at the end of a dental procedure.
Many recyclers will buy this clean scrap.
• Contact amalgam: amalgam that has been in contact with the patient
(E.g. extracted teeth containing amalgam)
• Amalgam sludge: amalgam captured by
chair-side traps, vacuum pump filters, screens,
and other devices.
• Used amalgam capsules
• Leaking or unusable amalgam capsules
Store amalgam waste in a covered plastic container dated and labeled “Amalgam for
Recycling” or as directed by your recycler. Consider keeping different types (e.g.,
contact and non-contact) of amalgam wastes in separate containers as instructed by
your recycler. Do not use disinfectant solutions with oxidizers, such as bleach, to
disinfect the amalgam. Do not add water or waste fixer to the
waste containers.
Obtain receipts or other certified documentation such as hauling manifests from your
recycler or hazardous waste hauler for disposal of all amalgam waste.
Keep these receipts on file for at least three years, and make them available to
authorized City inspectors upon request. Maintain a written or computerized log of
amalgam waste that you generate and you dispose off.
Store your waste fixer solution in a properly labeled container and dispose of
through a licensed hazardous waste hauler/ recycler. Waste fixer solution may be
treated on- site using a Silver Recovery Unit.
Train staff in the proper handling, manage
ment, and disposal of mercury-containing
solutions. Maintain a training log.
For more information, contact
Water Resources Protection Programs:
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