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Dental Amalgam Waste Disposal


Wastewater treatment and disposal is an important part of our need to protect and preserve Minnesota’s water resources. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency works closely with many industries to provide requirements, guidelines and assistance to minimize wastewater pollution. Minnesota’s Voluntary Mercury Amalgam Separator Program outlines goals and recommended practices to reduce the amount of mercury waste released into the environment from dental operations.

Minnesota voluntary mercury amalgam separator program

In 2007, the MPCA and the Minnesota Dental Association (MDA) signed an agreement with the goal of reducing the use and environmental release of mercury in amalgam from dental practices statewide. The document includes individual and joint responsibilities for the MPCA and the MDA: Memorandum of Understanding

One of the MDA’s key responsibilities is to encourage the voluntary installation of amalgam separators by dentists in Minnesota, with the goal that by December 31, 2008, 100% of Minnesota dentists voluntarily install and maintain amalgam separators and follow American Dental Association Best Management Practices for amalgam waste in their clinical practice.

One of the MPCA’s responsibilities is to establish criteria and a process to identify approved amalgam separator models in consultation with the MDA.

Criteria and process for separator approval

The MPCA developed approval criteria and a process that was approved by the MDA Environment Committee in April 2012: Minnesota Amalgam Separator Approval Procedure

In order to be on the list of approved products, a separator must:

  1. be tested against the current ANSI/ADA Specification by an accredited testing laboratory
  2. meet the current ANSI/ADA Specification
  3. have at least a 99% amalgam particulate recovery rate, calculated as the average of the three empty and three simulated full tests in the Specification
  4. be issued a Certificate by an accredited certification body.

The MPCA sent the procedure to manufacturers of amalgam separators and requested submission of test reports and certificates by July 1, 2013. The MPCA has received documentation from manufacturers demonstrating that the following separator models meet the approval criteria.

Approved separators for installation in Minnesota

The statewide amalgam separator program and list of approved separators are built on the successful program established in the Twin Cities metropolitan area through the collaborative efforts of the region’s wastewater utility Metropolitan Council Environmental Services and the Minnesota Dental Association.



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