Dental Medical Waste: X-Ray Developer

X-ray developer from analog x-rays cannot be disposed of in the trash. Here’s why this chemical solution is hazardous waste and how dental offices can mitigate risk and maintain safety and compliance.

Caring for your teeth involves brushing and flossing twice a day, but more importantly, it means getting exams twice a year.  As part of those exams, a dentist will require an x-ray of patients’ teeth to look for abnormalities, cavities, and more.  X-rays may have gone digital, but many dental offices still rely on analog x-ray pictures as part of patient exams, and x-ray waste falls under the category of hazardous waste.

X-ray Developer: A Hazardous Waste

Medical radiographers (MRs) process x-ray films in a special room called darkroom, much like a photographer processes analog film.  To develop the x-rays, a series of solvents are used, which amplify and stabilize the x-ray films.  The solvents, while necessary, are actually quite hazardous, and contain chemicals such as gluteraldehyde, hydroquinone, potassium hydroxide, potassium sulphite, sodium, formaldehyde, thiosulphate, acetic acid, aluminum sulphate, ammonium thiosulphate, among others.

Hydroquinone, in particular, is a highly toxic substance. It is a skin irritant, and when exposed improperly, persons can develop symptoms such as dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, lack of oxygen in the blood, and any dust that gets in the eyes can lead to impaired vision, among other injuries. Only UNUSED developer is toxic; once it has been used, it is safe to dispose of in the sink or toilet.

Disposing of X-ray Developer

A licensed medical and hazardous waste hauler can help dental offices with proper disposal of x-ray developer. There are many products on the market that help absorb and bind the liquid waste of x-ray developer, but knowing what to use and when can often be confusing. Proper training in safety and compliance is essential for staff and patient health when disposing of unused excess x-ray developer waste. How do you know when liquid waste is safe enough to be deemed non-hazardous waste?

Contact Red Bags to discuss your x-ray hazardous waste disposal needs, along with other dental medical waste disposal programs.

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