Dental facilities & mercury

 Dental facilities & mercury


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Wastewater treatment plants play an important role in protecting Colorado’s watersheds and sensitive ecosystems by treating wastewater from households, industries and small businesses. However, when mercury - a heavy metal associated with serious health effects - enters one of our wastewater treatment plants, it either settles out into the biosolids or passes through the plant and is discharged into Fountain Creek.

When mercury from medical, industrial, commercial or household sources is released into Fountain Creek, microorganisms convert some portion of this mercury into methylmercury, a toxic compound. Bioaccumulation of methylmercury in fish can present a health risk to humans and wildlife that consume the fish. As a neurotoxin, mercury slows fetal and child development, causes irreversible brain damage, and harms human ability to walk, talk, see and hear.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has promulgated pretreatment standards to reduce discharges of mercury from dental offices into publicly owned treatment works (POTWs). Review the Dental Effluent Guidelines on the EPA's website.

EPA states that amalgam fillings placed or removed by dental offices are the primary source of mercury discharges to POTWs. A practical, affordable and readily-available means of capturing mercury, and other metals, before they are discharged into sewers is through the use of an amalgam separator. Dental offices that place or remove amalgam must operate and maintain an amalgam separator. Additionally, they must not discharge scrap amalgam to the POTW, and must use specific kinds of line cleaners.

Existing and new sources must submit a one-time compliance report. Existing sources, operating prior to July 14, 2017, are required to comply by July 14, 2020 and must submit their one-time compliance report by October 12, 2020. New sources, operating after July 14, 2017 must comply upon opening their business, and must submit their one-time compliance report within 90 days of the commencement of wastewater discharge.

Forms may be submitted to our Industrial Pretreatment Program via U.S. Mail or fax.

Mail: Dental Amalgam Control Program, 701 E. Las Vegas St., Colorado Springs, CO 80903
Fax: (719) 668-4748

Please email us any questions regarding the Dental Amalgam Control Program.