Dental & Medical

Why it’s important to have and maintain an amalgam separator


Amalgam separators are simple, non-mechanical devices that sit within the drainage systems of dental practices. As their name implies, the purpose of an amalgam separator is to trap waste dental amalgam and separate it from wastewater that can then be safely discharged to the sewers.

With mercury contamination a big enough problem to give rise to a United Nations convention, amalgam separators play a critical role in reducing mercury pollution.

While there are dental clinics already fitted with amalgam separators, a large proportion of Australian dental practices remain without these front-line warriors in the war on environmental mercury contamination.

In the US, dental practices are the largest single source of the mercury that turns up in water treatment plants, so not surprisingly, plans are afoot to encourage all dental practices to install amalgam separators. It’s an initiative that should be replicated in Australia.

However, fitting an amalgam separator is only half the story. The other half is maintenance.

Amalgam separators do fill up and lose their effectiveness, and worst of all, some dental practices simply empty their separators into their general waste.

Not only is this defeating the whole purpose of having amalgam separators, it represents a health hazard to the practice staff and, potentially, patients.


Choose well

The key issues to be considered when choosing an amalgam separator have been detailed by the Department of Ecology, State of Washington. Naturally, effectiveness, fail-safe mechanisms and being “hands-off” are important factors, but two points stand out.

One is that the amalgam separator must comply with the international standard ISO 11143. This standard was first published in 1999, but the latest version was last reviewed and confirmed in 2011.

Not only does it set out requirements to ensure the efficiency and safe functioning of the separator itself, but also includes instructions for the operation and maintenance of the amalgam filter.

And, the Department of Ecology says, the captured amalgam must be recycled. It’s common sense, really, and the only way to ensure that the mercury contained in the amalgam is truly kept out of the environment.

Amalgam separators (pictured) can be easily attached to dental chairs to capture waste mercury, keeping it out of waterways.

Amalgam separators (pictured) can be easily attached to dental chairs to capture waste mercury, keeping it out of waterways.

Benefit from experience

Ecocycle is Australia’s oldest, most experienced and nationally approved and licenced recycler of mercury. We supply, maintain and swap all brands of amalgam separators everywhere in Australia. Naturally, we ensure that amalgam waste is safely recycled.

Our dental amalgam separator swap process takes just a few minutes and fits in with the needs of your dental practice. It couldn’t be easier to do the right thing by complying with ISO 11143.

To find out more about amalgam separators and how to have one installed at your dental practice, call Ecocycle on 1300 32 62 92 or fill out the form below and one of our specialists will get in touch.

« Show all news