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Vol. 70, No. 11
ISSN: 1488-2159
December 2004


Estimated Quantity of Mercury in Amalgam Waste Water Residue Released by Dentists into the Sewerage System in Ontario, Canada


• Albert O. Adegbembo, BDS, DDPH, MSc, FRCD(C) •
• Philip A. Watson, DDS, MScD •

A b s t r a c t

Aim: To estimate the quantity of dental amalgam that Ontario dentists release into waste water.

Methods: Information from a self-administered postal survey of Ontario dentists was combined with the results of other experiments on the weight of amalgam restorations and the quantity of amalgam waste that bypasses
solids separators in dental offices. Algorithms were developed to compute the quantity of amalgam waste leaving dental offices when dentists used or did not use ISO 11143 amalgam particle separators.

Results: A total of 878 (44.0%) of 1,994 sampled dentists responded to the survey. It was estimated that Ontario dentists removed 1,880.32 kg of amalgam (940.16 kg of mercury) during 2002, of which 1,128.19 kg of amalgam (564.10 kg of mercury) would have been released into waste water in Ontario if no dentists had been using a separator. Approximately 22% of the dentists reported using amalgam particle separators.

On the basis of current use of amalgam separators, it was estimated that 861.78 kg of amalgam (430.89 kg of mercury or 170.72 mg per dentist daily) was released in 2002. The use of amalgam separators by all dentists could reduce the quantity of amalgam (and mercury) entering waste water to an estimated 12.41 kg (6.21 kg of mercury, or 2.46 mg per dentist per day).

Conclusion: Amalgam particles separators can dramatically reduce amalgam and mercury loading in waste water released from dental offices.


MeSH Key Words: dental amalgam/analysis; dental waste/analysis; mercury/analysis; water pollution, chemical/analysis
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