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Disposal of X-Ray Films

Updated March 23, 2017

Hospitals, clinics and dentists all make use of X-rays, leading to a large build-up of films each year. These films not only qualify as private documents, according the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, they also need to be disposed of according to Environmental Protection Agency uidelines. To meet the need for proper disposal, many X-ray film recycling companies offer their services across the nation.

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  1. Contact an X-ray film disposal company. X-rays can be stripped of their silver in a special chemical wash or shredded, envelopes and all. Stripping X-rays of their silver is totally safe to the environment. In this process all parts of the X-rays are recycled, including silver, film and paper envelopes. X-rays can also be destroyed according to EPA regulations and burnt to recover the silver. This releases pollution into the air.

  2. Prepare the X-rays for transportation. If the company will pick up the films for disposal, follow its preparation instructions. Some companies charge a fee for pick up or pick up for free if the batch is large enough. Other companies let you mail small amounts of film. Place these films into a sturdy, cardboard box with a brief letter describing the package and your contact information.

  3. Get a certificate of destruction. EPA guidelines require some proof that you properly disposed of the X-rays. This proof is provided as a certificate issued by the X-ray disposal company. Keep this document in your records.

  4. Contact company to ensure proper receipt and destruction. This applies primarily to those who mail their films in to be disposed. Requiring a signature-confirmation is one way of proving that the company received your package. Also, check to see if there is any cash payment in exchange for the silver extracted from the X-rays. Some companies do pay for X-ray films because the silver is so valuable.

  5. Tip

    Wash your hands after handling the X-ray films. They do contain some heavy metals. X-ray film is much heavier than it appears, due to the metals contained in it. A good option for disposal is to have a company pick up the film.

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About the Author

Faith Chandler
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