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April 1, 2013   By Ross M. Fraker, DDS, PhD.  Seattle, WA

Through joint efforts between the elected representatives and the members of the Michigan Dental Association, Public Act 503 of 2008 was passed (Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed the bill (House Bill 6307) into law Jan. 12, 2009.) providing a straightforward approach to protecting the environment in Michigan from dental waste by the use of amalgam separators in dental offices.

Michigan became the 10th state to pass state wide legislation, and is an excellent example of how to approach the solution to regulating the disposal of amalgam-contaminated waste water. With the call for legislation requiring the use of amalgam separators in place, it is incumbent on the dentists in Michigan to become informed about amalgam separators and to proceed with the purchase and installation of this equipment.

First: Michigan dentists (see below for list of exceptions) are required by law (link to copy of bill) to have an amalgam separator installed by December 31, 2013.

Second: Michigan dentists must select an amalgam separator that satisfies the conditions specified in the ISO 11143 (1999) testing method.  The best approach to satisfying this requirement is to purchase a separator that is actually ISO 11143 certified. This will insure that the equipment does meet the requirements of the state mandate.

Third: Michigan dentists have a choice of chairside/single operatory installations or a single centrally installed separator. Both types of installation must ensure that all dental waste is treated to the minimum specified separation rate of 95% (Open4BioClean strongly encourages all dentists to select a separator that exceeds this minimum specification.)

There are two modalities of treatment for dental waste water:

1. The "Rapid Process" - treating the dental waste water immediately as it flows through the amalgam separator - market leader - Hg5® Series of Amalgam Separators, SolmeteX®

2. The "Catch & Hold Process" - catching the total outflow of dental waste water from the operatories and releasing the sediment free liquid later - market leader - The Amalgam Collector, R & D Services, Inc.

Besides the legalities required to comply with the legislation, there are several technical considerations that will help a dentist select a cost effective long term solution. There is always as initial cost. But it is the on going costs that requires the most serious consideration. The cost of one day slogged dwon will far exceed the life time cost of any amalgam separator. There are a number of patient health issues to be considered, should the selected separator cause slogging down, line blow back or infection through contact with the accumulated dental waste. 

We know of nine companies (worldwide) who manufacture separators that are ISO 11143 certified.  Five of these companies are based in the United States.

Follow this link for an explanation of the two modalities of dental waste water treatment.

List of Exceptions to the Michigan Bill.

a) Oral and maxillofacial surgeons.
b) Oral and maxillofacial radiologists.
c) Oral pathologists.
d) Orthodontists.
e) Periodontists.
f) Dentists while providing services in a dental school, in a hospital, or through a local health departments

Dr Fraker is the president of R & D Services, Inc - a leading provider of dental equipment to help protect the environment from the release of heavy metal contaminants.

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