X-Ray Waste Disposal – What You Should Know

X-rays are a critical tool for helping doctors and dentists manage their clients’ health. But if you’re not up to date on the latest record disposal processes, x-ray film disposal might come as a shock. It’s a little more complex than simply running them through the shredder. X-Ray film disposal and recycling can have negative environmental impacts if mishandled. That’s why it’s so important to work with an expert who understands the complexities of records management. Here’s a look at what it takes to do the job properly.   

Breaking Down the Process

Film recycling is an option for disposing of medical film in a way that both protects the information contained within and the environment at the same time. Happy Faces has been providing film recycling services for the medical industry for more than 20 years. Our process meets both EPA and HIPAA standards for disposal and management of these sensitive documents. Here’s how we do it at Happy Faces Records Management: 

Step 1. Separate paper from film and shred all PII (Personal Identifiable Information) from x-ray jackets. 

Step 2. Grinders reduce film into particle flakes only a half-inch in size making the film unusable and the information contained within incomprehensible.  

Step 3. The film particles are tested to measure silver content.  

Step 4. Silver coatings are separated from film through a four-stage process of chemical burns.  

Step 5. The emulsified silver and other coatings are sent to settling tanks. We then clean the plastics and send them to recycling companies for reuse in clothing and packaging.  

Step 6. The emulsion mixture is processed to allow the silver to precipitate and the water is then recycled.  

Step 7. The remaining silver is roasted to ash and all traces of water and other impurities are removed.  

Step 8. The ash is smelted until the silver liquefies and cast into ingot molds to cool. We then send the final product to silver refiners for further processing.  

Through this highly detailed process, we ensure that film is disposed of in a secure and environmentally friendly manner, while silver is recycled and sent out for reuse. The experts at Happy Faces Records Management understand this process intimately. We are laser focused on helping our customers accomplish their security and environmental goals when it comes to x-ray disposal.  

Why You Can’t Just Throw Them Out

Governments regulate most x-ray and film disposal as they contain silver. Silver is toxic to microorganisms which are the foundation of the natural food chain. It is very important to prevent silver film coatings from seeping into groundwater, streams or rivers to prevent toxins from contaminating fish and water supplies. Clinics are responsible for ensuring that all film is handled and disposed of properly. The consequences can be severe, both in terms of the reputation of a clinic as well as the health and wellbeing of their community.   

For more tips on how to effectively manage your medical records, connect with a Happy Faces Records Management representative today. 


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Securely and completely destroying documents is critical to maintaining privacy, security and complying with federal and state regulations. Failing to heed these laws and regulations can lead to fines or imprisonment.

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