Dentist Offices and Mercury Waste

Over the years, mercury concentration in certain areas around the United States continues to rise. Manufacturers and corporations are still manufacturing products that result in high levels of mercury waste in the water, yet what is surprising is that dentist offices are one of the largest sources of mercury in waste water. One study suggested that dentists are the third largest user of mercury in the U.S. It is accounted for over 20% of the estimated 200 metric tons used as of 2012 and nearly over 40 metric tons of mercury released into the environment. So why are dentist offices considered one of the largest source of mercury wastes? According to the EPA, dental amalgam, a tooth filling material that is 50% mercury, is one of the leading intentional use of mercury in the US. Yet, most amalgam waste gets flushed down the drain without proper protocols. This mercury waste amounts to about 3.6 tons each year, most of which escapes into landfills, while some is incinerated, either pollinating the air and polluting fish and wildlife by seeping into the waterways.
Despite the EPA announced a rule requiring dentist offices to conduct management practices back in 2010,  the rule has been only applied to 11 states as of 2012. There should be a stricter rule that regulates dentist offices if they continue to use dental amalgams. As suggested by the EPA, mercury management at dentist offices are relatively inexpensive and can be done by an amalgam separator, which is a separator that installed at the source, which then can remove 95-99% of the mercury in the waste water and if necessary, dentists can switch to an alternative materials for filling. Though, these solutions will take a while to be in full effects since the American Dental Association still supports the use of dental amalgam uncontrollably, according to a recent report. However, we, as consumers can help push this rule into effect a bit faster by bring up this issue to our dentists and encourage them to apply the solutions suggested by the EPA.

For more info about dental amalgam, visit
http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/mwu/epas_common_sense_rule_on_merc.html

http://www.epa.gov/mercury/dentalamalgam.html

For more info about amalgam separator and where to purchase one, visit
http://www.healthfirst.com/dental-waste/Amalgam-Separators/index.html

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