On October 22, 2014, EPA published a proposed rule establishing pretreatment standards under the Clean Water Act for discharges of pollutants — mercury in dental amalgam — into publicly owned treatment works (POTWs). Under the proposed rule, dentists would use amalgam separators and best management practices to control and reduce discharges. To minimize the burden on dental practices, the proposed rule would allow dentists to demonstrate compliance by proper use of the separators rather than by discharge monitoring. Recognizing the challenges of regulating an industry with over 100,000 facilities nationwide, EPA also is proposing to streamline permitting and oversight requirements.
EPA anticipates that compliance would reduce the discharge of approximately 4.4 tons of mercury per year into POTWs. In addition to soliciting comments on the proposed rule and its rationale, EPA is asking for data on a number of issues including, e.g., data on the number of dental practices that do not place or remove dental amalgam. However, EPA’s request for data is not a formal data call-in. Comments on the proposed rule must be submitted no later than December 22, 2014.