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Dental Amalgam: Strategies to Reduce Its Environmental Impact

Categories: Infection Control

Author(s): Fiona Collins

Date: 02-25-2019 10:54:37 am

Dental amalgam has proved to be a durable restorative material. However, it also is a source, albeit a minor one, of the mercury released into the environment by human activity. Improper disposal of amalgam waste results in its ending up in landfills, wastewater sludge or incinerators. Additionally, publicly owned treatment works (POTW) cannot remove 100% of the mercury from wastewater. The American Dental Association released its Best Management Practices for Amalgam Waste several years ago, detailing how amalgam waste can be disposed of safely. The recent EPA Final Rule mandates the use of amalgam separators to segregate solid waste from evacuation lines before it leaves the office toward the POTW. In addition, new rules on evacuation line cleaners and on the disposal of amalgam waste apply. The Minamata Treaty also provides nine measures related to amalgam, of which signatories are intended to choose at least two: to reduce the use of amalgam in the long term and to reduce its environmental impact.

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