Jun 30, 2008

Recent Press Conference Discussed Significance of Removing Mercury from Dental Wastewater

Event highlighted DRNA's compliance with ISO 11143

Dental Recycling North America (DRNA) held a press conference recently in Washington, D.C., to announce its recent certification to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Standard 11143 for Dental Equipment - Amalgam Separators.

NSF Intl., an independent, not-for-profit, third-party certification organization based in Ann Arbor, Mich., recently verified that DRNA’s amalgam separator, BU10, is ISO-compliant. The press conference discussed the importance of these certified devices in removing dental amalgam, a major source of mercury in wastewater, from dental wastewater.

In attendance was former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator from 1993-2001 Carol Browner; former U.S. Congressman Tom Downey; and former U.S. Ambassador to Sweden Thomas L. Siebert. Representatives from NSF Intl. and DRNA were also present to answer questions regarding the certification to ISO 11143.

Mercury contained in dental amalgam has received increasing scrutiny from regulators in their efforts to reduce the discharge of mercury and mercury-containing materials into the environment. A study by Vandeven and McGinnis estimated that dental facilities contribute approximately half of the estimated total mercury load to publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) in the U.S. (Rule Proposal N.J.A.C. 7:14A-21.12).

According to Carol Browner, “Wastewater treatment facilities are faced with a serious challenge: how to more effectively deal with amalgam at the source. It is critical that we deal with this challenge because mercury is a neurotoxin that affects the brain and central nervous system, and amalgam contains 50% mercury.”

Amalgam separators installed in dental facilities have been reported to remove more than 95% of the released mercury. Dental amalgam is a durable conglomeration of metals (mercury, silver, tin, etc.) used to fill cavities. Amalgam separators, according to ISO 11143: Dental equipment – Amalgam separators, are designed to retain and reduce the number of amalgam particles entering the sewage system.

DRNA is the first manufacturer to be tested by a U.S. laboratory that is accredited to test to the ISO 11143 standard. Although many laboratories may have the capabilities to perform such testing, NSF sought lab accreditation to ISO 11143 through the International Accreditation Service (IAS).

“Compliance with ISO 11143 by an accredited third-party laboratory, such as NSF Intl., is crucial in ensuring that amalgam separators are meeting stringent testing requirements and continue to perform in accordance to these standards,” said Marc M. Sussman, DRNA president chief executive officer.

ISO 11143:1999(E) specifies performance requirements and test methods for amalgam separators used with dental equipment in the dental treatment center, requiring the separator remove at least 95% of amalgam from the dental wastewater.

“I would like to congratulate DRNA for taking the initiative to be the first manufacturer of amalgam separators to be certified to ISO 11143 by NSF,” said Bob Ferguson, NSF vice president. “While many manufacturers claim that their products are complaint to ISO 11143 standards, DRNA has taken steps to demonstrate their products’ regulatory compliance by choosing to proceed down this path of not only rigorous testing, but also certification.”

Ongoing audits performed by NSF field auditors at the manufacturing facility will ensure continued compliance with the ISO standard. The NSF Mark on an amalgam separator demonstrates conformity with all of the ISO 11143 requirements.

DRNA is also the only company to have its amalgam separation technology verified by the EPA’s Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) Program, which is administered by NSF. With assistance from EPA grants, NSF manages an ETV Center that provides independent performance evaluations of drinking water technologies. This particular technology was verified by NSF when in use at a local dentist office.