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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Or We Could Just Tax Amalgam

The EPA has decided to being regulating dental pollution. It proposes a rule that will take effect in 2012. The EPA estimates that dental offices contribute 50% of mercury pollution to local water treatment plants, about 3.7 tons world wide. Their solution for regulating this water pollution (according to the article) is to require that all dental offices to install amalgam separators. These amalgam separators can catch 95% of all amalgam wasted by dentists.

Sounds like a great plan, right? Well not really. A much better, and cheaper way to regulate this pollution would be to impose a corrective tax. We can always tax pollution. Once we determine a $T (tax) that is greater than the marginal control costs, polluters (dentists) will regulate their pollution on their own, in order to save money. This way, each polluter will only pollute to the point where the cost of the tax of another unit of pollution is more expensive than the cost of controlling that unit.

Using this method will bring in revenue that can be used to manage the program, and will be able to support the cost of the "tax and pollution police" that will be needed to make sure that each business adheres. While the EPA's suggested method of requiring amalgam separators will loose money through paying to police businesses to make sure they have, maintain, and properly use these devices. Clearly the corrective "pollution" tax would be better, easier, and cheaper to impose.

Corrective tax on pollution is absolutely an excellent way to regulate dental pollution. You have provided great suggestions which are helpful in reducing dental pollution. Thanks!
amalgam separator
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