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Proper disposal and discharging to sanitary sewer in dental offices

Did you know?Happy girl sitting in dentist chair

  • Dental offices generate mercury, biomedical waste, fixer solutions, and lead wastes that cannot be disposed of with regular garbage.
  • Federal regulations require dental offices to have a pollution prevention plan for dental amalgam.
  • Ontario regulations require dental practices where dental amalgam is placed, repaired or removed to install and maintain an ISO standard dental amalgam separator.
  • Silver containing wastes as well as spent x-ray developer and fixer solutions should be recycled by the supplier.
  • The appropriate disposal of hazardous waste is required by both Ontario's waste management regulations and municipal sewer use bylaws.
  • Oxford County has concentration limits on mercury and other heavy metals that can enter the wastewater systems.


What should my office be doing?

  • Do train staff in proper handling, management, and disposal.
  • Do install and maintain an ISO-certified amalgam separator or equivalent and connect all dental units to it.
  • Do use disposable chair-side traps and filters in your dental units
  • Do remove the chair-side trap and place the entire trap into a break-resistant, airtight container labelled "Hazardous Waste: Contact Amalgam."
  • Do remove your vacuum pump filter from your dental unit. Fasten the lid securely onto the filter. Label the filter "Hazardous Waste: Contact Amalgam." Collect filters in a secondary container as provided by your supplier.
  • Do empty waste from reusable traps and filters into a marked waste container.
  • Do follow manufacturer's instructions regarding equipment maintenance
  • Do store all wastes in sealed containers and ship within 90 days of being filled.
  • Do collect human tissue in red liners marked with the universal biohazard symbol.
  • Do maintain written or computerized logs of amalgam waste generated and of amalgam waste removed from the vacuum system or plumbing
  • Do obtain receipts or other certified documentation from your recycler or hauler of all amalgam waste recycling or disposal shipments.


What shouldn't my office be doing?

  • Don't dispose of amalgam, human tissue, blood-soaked materials or sharps into the regular garbage.
  • Don't wash amalgam particles down the drain.
  • Don't place amalgam wastes into the biomedical waste/sharps container.
  • Don't self-transport amalgam.
  • Don't give amalgam to an uncertified scrap metal dealer.
  • Don't use chlorine-containing products to cleanse vacuum lines.
  • Don't pour chemicals or silver-bearing x-ray film processing solutions into the drain, sink or open environment.
  • Don't wipe traps/filters with paper towels or any other material.


Amalgam waste includes:

  • Contact amalgam such as extracted teeth containing amalgam restorations
  • Noncontact or scrap amalgam
  • Used, leaking, or unusable amalgam capsules
  • Amalgam captured by chair-side traps, vacuum pumps, screens, and other devices, including the traps, filters, and screens themselves


Categories of wastes from dental offices

Mercury has been declared a toxic substance under the CEPA, 1999. In addition, mercury-containing wastes, including dental amalgam wastes, may be classified as hazardous wastes.

Biomedical wastes are classified as hazardous wastes. Biomedical waste containers must be released to a certified biomedical waste carrier for transport to an approved facility.

Silver-containing wastes and untreated spent X-Ray developer, and fixer solutions should not be released to common waste streams.

Lead foil packets and lead aprons must not be disposed to the general waste stream. Approved waste carriers must be utilized to transport and dispose of this waste.