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Law Requires Dentists to Collect and Recycle all Mercury and Amalgam Waste

On September 17, 2002, New York State Governor George E. Pataki signed Chapter 506, Laws of 2002. The law bans the possession or use of non-encapsulated elemental mercury in dental facilities. The law also requires dentists to collect, and send for recycling, any mercury, dental amalgam waste from filters, traps and extracted teeth and amalgam capsule waste generated in their offices. These materials are prohibited from being disposed of along with medical waste, down the drain, or in the regular trash.

Effective March 16, 2003, it is illegal to dispose of any waste amalgam, extracted teeth with amalgam fillings or amalgam capsule waste or amalgam captured in vacuum filters and traps with medical waste, down the drain, or in the regular trash.

Dentists are required to comply with the law now. However, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is in the process of developing regulations which will clarify requirements and may require the installation of equipment designed to collect amalgam waste from dental facilities for recycling.

The DEC maintains a dental mercury waste management Web site which includes the text of New York State's Dental Mercury Recycling Law; a manual which details environmentally responsible mercury and amalgam waste management methods for dental offices; and a resource guide which lists mercury and amalgam recycling vendors and collection equipment in New York State. DEC will update it's dental mercury web site regularly to include news and progress regarding the law's implementation and the development of regulations.

If you would like a paper copy of the dental mercury and amalgam waste management manual and resource guide contact:

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Division of Solid and Hazardous Materials
Bureau of Solid Waste, Reduction and Recycling
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233-7253