The U.S. EPA has enacted dental discharger standards to reduce the amount of mercury making its way into the Publicly Owned Treatment Works and the Environment. The Township is proactively enforcing this ruling by requiring the following:
- Complete the Dental Discharger survey/application or exemption form.
- Install amalgam separator within 90 days of notification by Cranberry Township (Must meet 2008 ISO Standards).
- Adopt two best management practices spelled out in the dental amalgam educational document.
- Hold a wastewater permit with Cranberry Township.
- Track maintenance records on dental amalgam separator.
- Submit to yearly inspections to verify amalgam separator and use of best management practices.
Mercury in wastewater
Dental amalgam is composed of mercury, silver, copper and other trace metals. Mercury makes up 50% of the amalgam mixture. When placing or removing amalgam fillings, mercury travels into the sanitary system and is delivered to the Brush Creek Wastewater Plant. The mercury contained in the amalgam causes wastewater treatment issues because of its toxic effects on the microorganisms. We rely on the thriving bacteria population to decompose the organic wastes entering the plant on a daily basis. When the bacteria are affected, their ability to breakdown organic pollutants is disabled and there is a greater chance for pollutants to pass through the system. A small percentage of the mercury also passes through the treatment technologies and enters Brush Creek.
Health and environmental concerns
Once in the environment, mercury can wreak havoc on biological life at very minute levels. It bio-accumulates in fish and shellfish working its way up the food chain as it is consumed. In humans, it accumulates in the organs and muscular tissue. An extended period of time is required for the body to detoxify from mercury. It is a known neurotoxin and enzymatic disrupter.