The dental sector provides a vital service in the capital region. As part of the normal operation of a dental facility, liquid and solid wastes are generated. Generating waste products is not necessarily an environmental issue. However, how we manage the waste can have significant impacts on our natural resources, public & private infrastructure, and human & environmental health associated with stormwater, wastewater & septic systems. The following resources are specific to the dental sector.

Common Regulations and BMP for stormwater, wastewater and septic systems use

Waste generators are required to comply with all federal, provincial, municipal and regional regulations for proper waste disposal.

Under the Provincial Environmental Management Act and the Federal Fisheries Act, a waste generator may be held liable for any contamination or harm created as a result of the deposition or discharge of that waste. Proper disposal and management of wastes significantly reduces risks of environmental contamination and the requirement for remediation.

Proper storage, inventory of products and wastes, spills response plans and employee education on managing dental wastes are important factors in keeping our receiving waters clean.

Requirements and BMP specific to sanitary sewer

All industrial, commercial or institutional facilities that discharge non-domestic wastewater to the sanitary sewer system operated by the CRD must follow the requirements of CRD Bylaw 2922 - Sewer Use Bylaw. The dental sector, as with many other sectors, has specific requirements under a code of practice with in the Sewer Use Bylaw.

Code of Practice for Dental Operations prescribes the requirements and conditions for preventing or limiting the discharge of prohibited and restricted wastes into the sanitary sewer system.

The following is a summary of the key requirements under the Bylaw and Code of Practice (Schedule "L").

  • Follow the code for proper transport and disposal of hazardous wastes such as mercury and silver
  • Install and properly maintain treatment works (amalgam separators) in your dental office
  • Maintain comprehensive records, to ensure wastes are being disposed of properly

Please submit a Waste Discharge Assessment Form if you are unsure whether this code of practice applies to your business.

Although compliance with Sewer Use Bylaw may help you meet other municipal, provincial or federal conditions, other agencies may have additional requirements. Use BizPaL to help you identify additional permits and licenses required to operate your business.

Requirements and BMP specific to septic system

Wastewater pretreatment is not specifically required under CRD Bylaw 3479 - Onsite Sewage System Maintenance Bylaw. However, a dental amalgam separator waste should not be discharged to a septic system as this can create a contaminated site. At minimum, the discharge of a dental amalgam separator waste will significantly increase maintenance costs of the septic system and reduce its useful life span.

Requirements and BMP specific to stormdrains and catch basins

Prevent stormwater contamination and protect our aquatic environment by ensuring that dental waste does not enter the storm drain network (which includes ditches, catch basins and roadways, etc.).

  • Educate staff about the spill prevention and response
  • When hosing or washing equipment or surfaces outside, do not let the runoff water enter the storm drain.
  • Regularly inspect and maintain any parking lot catch basins
  • Store waste products under covered areas with appropriate spill containment

If you operate on the Saanich Peninsula (North Saanich, Central Saanich and Sidney) then you need to know about Bylaw 4168 requirements.

Requirements and BMP specific to Trucked Liquid Wastes

Liquid waste haulers can be hired to responsibly manage any fluids associated with dental operations. Visit the trucked liquid waste directory to find a hauler.

It is important to note that the waste generator retains ownership of the waste even after it has been turned over to a waste hauler. This means the generator can be held responsible for spills or improper disposal of waste.

For that reason it is important to ensure that the hauler you hire can demonstrate that they are:

  • Properly licensed;
  • Have properly trained staff and;
  • Will deal with your waste in a safe, responsible, legal and diligent manner.

Why wastes from dental operation are a concern in our stormwater, wastewater and septic systems

Studies have shown that wastewater from dental offices contains elevated concentrations of heavy metals such as mercury, silver, copper, tin and zinc. The sources of these metals include placement and removal of amalgam fillings (mercury, silver, copper, tin and zinc) and disposal of spent x-ray fixer solution (silver). Elevated levels of heavy metals discharged to the sanitary sewer system or to septic fields can pose a significant risk to the environment. Discharges of dental waste in to storm drains has a direct negative impact to the environment.

What is considered a dental operations?

A dental operation means any operation that carries out dental care, dental hygiene or dental laboratory activities and which produces liquid waste containing mercury or silver.