Apparently a significant amount of mercury exits the dental office and pollutes the waste water stream, thus putting many publicly owned treatment works (POTW) over the allowable limit as set by the EPA. POTW is a term used in the United States for a sewage treatment plant that is owned, and usually operated, by a government agency. In the U.S., POTWs are typically owned by local government agencies, and are usually designed to treat domestic sewage and not industrial waste water.
In my research I found that Wichita Kansas was once of the first cities to figure out that the influx of mercury was coming from dental offices. Becky Lewis from the city worked with Joeseph Baba DDS, to implement a system where dentists installed “amalgam separators”, equipment to capture a large percentage of dental mercury before it enters the waste water stream.