Amalgam Regulations

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) issued regulations that require most dental practices and facilities in Massachusetts to install and operate amalgam separator systems, recycle mercury-containing amalgam wastes, and periodically certify their compliance with these requirements. The regulations, which took effect on April 24, 2006, were developed with assistance from a stakeholder workgroup including individual dentists, MDS representatives, sewerage authorities, and environmental groups. These regulations apply to all Massachusetts dental practices and facilities that generate or discharge wastewater from mercury amalgam-related processes.

New Amalgam Regulations

In December 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule requiring most dental offices nationwide to install amalgam separators, but withdrew the rule following the White House's memorandum ordering federal agencies to freeze all new or pending regulations. The rule became effective July 14, 2017, and compliance for most dentists will be July 14, 2020.

The rule mandates that most dental offices install, maintain, and monitor an amalgam separator that complies with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) American National Standard/American Dental Association (ADA) specifications. You may continue to operate an already-installed amalgam separator for its lifetime or 10 years (whichever comes first) as long as you comply with the rule's other requirements, including the specified best management practices, operation and maintenance, reporting, and record-keeping requirements. The date for compliance with this rule for existing offices will be at the end of 2019. Newly purchased or built offices must comply within 90 days of taking ownership.

Amalgam Compliance Exemptions

If your dental office does not place or remove dental amalgam, you may be exempt from amalgam compliance regulations.

In the final rule, dental offices that do not place dental amalgam, and do not remove dental amalgam except in limited emergency or unplanned, unanticipated circumstances are exempt from any further requirements as long as they certify such in their One-time Compliance Report to their Control Authority. In this way, if, over time, the use of dental amalgam is phased out as a restorative material, the requirements of this rule will no longer apply. By limited circumstances, EPA means, dental offices that remove amalgam at a frequency less than five percent of its procedures.  On average, this percent approximates to 9 removals per office per year (DCN DA00467).

Amalgam Scrap Waste, Separators, and Recycling

Amalgam Regulations

Certification Deadline: December 31, 2016

Record Keeping

Dental practices and facilities need to keep on-site records to demonstrate their compliance with the Amalgam Regulations for Dental Facilities (310 CMR 73.00). Records must continue to be kept for at least five years, pursuant to 310 CMR 73.06(2).