Do you know how to dispose of contaminated dental equipment? This could include an old amalgamator or a dental pump that has sat dormant in your practice’s storage. Maybe you have some forgotten collector cups and filters, tucked away in a cupboard that you have only just gotten round to emptying.
If contaminated by a hazardous product, a regular piece of dental equipment may have to be subject to more stringent waste disposal measures.
As you look to clear out your storage spaces, some items will need to be sent to a separate waste stream. Classic bottles of free mercury, for example, can easily be sent to amalgam disposal.
Similarly, items such as study casts are gypsum-based, and will need to be disposed of accordingly, following the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2010. By separating and recycling gypsum waste wherever possible, clinicians can avoid the potential adverse effects on the environment if it were landfilled. This includes the production of hydrogen sulphide gas following decomposition in a landfill, which is known to cause long-term headaches, tiredness, and poor psycho-motor function.1
However, as you clear through your storage areas, you may be unsure of what to do with larger pieces of technology in particular.
Blurring the lines
Clinicians will know the threats some X-ray materials will present when they are no longer needed, and fixers and developers must be disposed of with care. Spent fixers should be mixed with water and developer before being disposed of down a septic system or sewer after de-silvering, with developer following a similar process using water alone. The silver must be passed on to a certified biomedical waste carrier.2
But what happens to an old X-ray machine? If it has been exposed to such elements, and presents a radiation threat when live, how should it be safely managed?
Firstly, disposal of X-ray equipment must follow Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations. The machine is declared inoperable when, once switched off and separated from the mains supply, the electrical power cable is cut.3 Items may be recycled, but you should also remove or obscure any trefoils or other indications of an ionising radiation hazard – otherwise coming across it without knowing it is ‘inoperable’ could be distressing.
The safest way to dispose of this type of equipment reliably is by contacting a specialist waste management service, who can ensure such equipment is disposed of in line with all relevant regulations.
Choose Initial Medical
You may find that there are a variety of pieces of equipment like X-ray machines – including dental chairs, pumps, motors, and aspirators – that you simply don’t know how to dispose of safely. Initial Medical is here to help, as experts in waste management that ensure you have the best environmental outcomes too. We will carefully handle contaminated equipment and recycle appropriately, as part of our immense offering of dental waste management. This even extends to the likes of clinical and pharmaceutical waste.
Dental waste demands can be difficult, especially with old, contaminated equipment. But, with a little help, your practice’s cupboards can be cleared and ready for growth in 2024.
Contact us to dispose of your dental waste.
- Ismail, Y. M. H. B., & Rosli, N. L. M. (2022). DIFFERENT CONCENTRATIONS OF SODIUM HYDROXIDE CAUSTIC LEACHING OF CR6+ FOR REFINEMENT OF CALCIUM SOURCE FROM DENTAL MOULD WASTE. Malaysian Journal of Microscopy, 18(1).
- Singh, H., Bhaskar, D. J., Dalai, D. R., Rehman, R., & Khan, M. (2014). Dental biomedical waste management. International Journal of Scientific Study, 2(4), 66-68.
- Public Health England, (2020). Guidance Notes for Dental Practitioners on the Safe Use of X-ray Equipment. (Online) Available at: https://www.rqia.org.uk/RQIA/files/44/449bdd1c-ccb0-4322-b0df-616a0de88fe4.pdf [Accessed January 2024]