M.A.R.S often hears the same questions over and over from the Dental Industry. Many of these questions are formed by either getting incorrect information from the wrong source or getting the correct information from the right source and not understanding. M.A.R.S releases our weekly blogs with the hope of providing the right information that cannot be misinterpreted.
As more questions arise throughout the Dental Industry regarding amalgam separator, EPA Compliance, and evacuation line cleaners, M.A.R.S will keep posting versions of this ongoing blog series. These blogs will only have one general theme “common questions,” the questions may not be related, just answered in the order in which we receive them.
Today, we will be tackling the questions on why some amalgam separators fill faster than advertised and the misunderstanding of the stability of mercury amalgam.
Why Does my Amalgam Separator Fill Quickly?
Most amalgam separators that are ISO tested are sedimentation based. Those Amalgam separators that are sedimentation based capture any material heavier than water, i.e., prophy paste. The more prophy an office uses, the faster the amalgam separator tend to fill.
ISO standards are only looking for solid mercury; this is why most amalgam separators are created as pure sedimentation products, for the reason of being the best method of catching heavier material. The problem is that water treatment plants are the ones responsible for testing the discharge of Dental Practices; they use the EPA Standard 245.7 or 1631. These methods go beyond ISO Standard and test for dissolved mercury.
Isn’t the Mercury in Amalgam Bonded?
In 2014, a mercury expert, Mr. William Purves, was the first to provide proof of the dissolve rate of amalgam in water. Mr. Purves’ studies continue in testing the mercury discharge of Dental Practices with existing amalgam separators. His finding was that most ISO tested amalgam separators create and release more mercury than they capture due to the soluble mercury release from the amalgam caught in the systems. Over a two day period, four grams of mercury in 125 mL of water generated 600,000 ng/L of soluble mercury. The EPA discharge limits for mercury is 1.2ng/L.
Mercury always wants to resort back to its free state, which is a gas. In amalgam fillings, the ionic charge of tin helps mercury vapourize faster. When that mercury is submerged underwater, it dissolves into a soluble form.
This new information has shocked the Dental Industry because it is contrary to what they have been taught for years. Both the ADA and the EPA was presented with the findings of Purves Environmental, regarding the dissolve rate of amalgam fillings. If you wish to know more about Mr. Purves’ finds, you can contact him at 330-687-3360. William is the gentleman who works closely with Water Treatment Plants across the United States, providing mercury testing and assistance with ensuring the Water Treatment Plant’s meet their EPA discharge limits.
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