Five Things Most Amalgam Separator Manufacturers Don’t Want You to Know- Part 1

The Dental Industry has been inundated with misinformation about amalgam separators, the EPA Regulation, and Local Requirements. Many large amalgam separator manufacturers have been releasing incorrect information to possibly mislead or persuade the public’s opinion on their product. This blog series will be discussing the five things most amalgam separator manufacturers don’t want you to know.


#1 – Not All ISO Tested Amalgam Separators Work

Many amalgam separator manufacturers would like you to think the ISO testing of their system is an indication of their ability to pass your Local Control Groups standard on amalgam separator compliance. The truth is, many areas of the United States are looking for the capture of soluble mercury, a form of mercury created when mercury amalgam is submerged in water. When the amalgam separator ISO was last updated in 2008, soluble mercury was not added to the criteria for testing. Without the requirement of testing for soluble mercury, this makes the current ISO standard for amalgam separators outdated as roughly 50% of mercury that escapes an amalgam separator is soluble.

Since the requirement of amalgam separators, there have been two studies that have shown ISO amalgam separators do not function as advertised by the ISO testing results and the manufacturer’s advertised separation rate. The first study was completed in 2002 by both the City of Toronto and the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario. They had found ISO tested amalgam separators do not meet their advertised separation percentages in clinical environments (2002; pg.5-6). The second and more recent study was completed in 2014 by William Purves of Purves Environmental. Mr. Purves’ study had found that most ISO tested amalgam separators create and release more mercury than they capture. According to the independent study, only the M.A.R.S LibertyBOSS has been found with the capability to capture TOTAL mercury, solid and soluble (2014; p. 5).

Amalgam Separator Manufacturers

#2 – Replacement Filters are Over Priced

Filter based amalgam separator manufactures know once a Dentist has installed an amalgam separator into their Dental Practice it is less likely they will change the system, regardless of the cost. These expensive and high maintenance amalgam separators run on the Gillette Principal. A marketing strategy in which the manufacturer gives a Dental Practice a “Free” amalgam separator, as long as you keep purchasing their filters. Once these filter based amalgam separator manufacturers have the market share they desire, there is nothing stopping them from significantly raising their filter costs. The reason the manufacturers know they can do this is that they anticipate that their customers will likely keep ordering their filters at an average of every 6-8 months without losing them as a customer.

How to Avoid Overspending on Your Amalgam Separator Costs?

1) Get a NO maintenance, filter-free amalgam separator. When you purchase a system with a long service life and no filters, you do not get trapped in the razor blade model.
2) If you are considering a filter system; ask for a guarantee of price and service life when being quoted by your service company.

As a point of reference; the average three chair one doctor/ two hygienist Dental Practice should pay no more than $400 (amortized) per year on their amalgam separator costs.

Please stay tuned to Part 2 of this Blog which will be discussing;
– Filter Service Life Does NOT Last as Long as Advertised – Low Maintenance vs. NO Maintenance Amalgam Separators.
– Service Companies Do Not carry all brands of Amalgam Separators; Why Don’t They All Sell the Best Available Technology?
– Just because you already have an Amalgam Separator does not mean you are Compliant.



1. Watson P, Adegbembo A & Lugowski S – A Study of the Fate of Mercury from the Placement and Removal Of Dental Amalgam Restorations Final Report Part 1: Removal of Dental Amalgam Restorations 2002; p. 5-6; p. 26-27

2. Purves W. Dental Separator Study 2014; p. 5

3. Justin Bynum – What is the Razor/Razorblade model?