Best Management Practices for Mercury and Mercury Amalgam Separation from Dental Office Waste Water
The purpose of this scientific review is to provide guidance for dentists, physicians and other health care providers for the rational scientific clinical application of biocompatible products, procedures, equipment, or information in dentistry for those who request such care or information.
Below is a link to the scientific review conducts in June 2015;
Impact on Waste Water Treatment Plants (WWTPs)
An exhaustive study was performed by the City of Elyria in Ohio that demonstrated a significant quantity of mercury is being discharged into their system by dental offices. When calculating the volume differences per hour the dental offices still generate more dissolved mercury entering the waste water treatment plant than both the residential and industrial influents. When complying with EPA discharge requirements many PTOWs are having difficulty meeting their limits. Based upon the data generated above, small PTOWs may have mercury issues that are directly attributed to dental office discharges.
To determine the effectiveness of Amalgam Separators used to remove Mercury from the environment.
Amalgam Separators were designed to remove amalgam from the environment and are effectively removing 99+% of the solid metal from the dental discharge. After an exhaustive study of dental office discharges at the street location (manholes), it became clear that very large quantities of mercury were still entering the environment (10 to 1600000 ng/L). These numbers indicated that there was still an issue with mercury entering the environment. In none of the separator studies performed by various states, academic and/or private companies is dissolved mercury examined. The ISO 11143 standard only examines physical separation. This type of separation assumes that the remaining 1-5% of amalgam (equal to 3400 pounds of dissolved mercury annually) discharging into the environment is not an issue or a hazard. The data below may change that assumption.
Purves Environmental Inc. sampled several separators in various offices only to find that the level of total mercury discharging to the environment at the separators ranged from 65,600 ng/L to 17,500,000 ng/L. This data is not addressed by the Dental community or the separator manufacturers. Separator designs were first established under the false assumption that the mercury remaining in the discharge was not an issue and that it remained in a solid form that could easily be removed at a waste water treatment plant. The other assumption that is now applied is; the discharge flow from a dental office is so small that the high levels of mercury would be diluted when mixed with the influents from other discharges. The premise of this study and research was to accumulate data from operating systems and determine the best separation systems now employed to handle the mercury discharge. It is focused primarily on dissolved mercury.
Dissolved mercury is far more dangerous to humans and wildlife than mercury which is bound to solid particles. Dissolved mercury is more readily absorbed by humans and aquatic organisms than mercury bound to solids. Dissolved mercury is converted into Methyl Mercury in the body through normal biological processes. The Methyl Mercury formed is far more dangerous than elemental mercury to humans because it attacks the Central Nervous system and causes a Parkinson’s like syndrome. In aquatic life (primarily fish) this process occurs in the same manner. Since fish is a food source for humans, the Methyl Mercury in the fish is even more readily absorbed by humans and can become a danger to human consumption. This is the primary reason that the consumption of fish in the Great Lakes and many rivers and streams is limited by EPA and many state natural resource departments. For this reason the mercury discharge limit concentration was reduced to 12 ng/L and 1.3 ng/L (Great Lakes) to protect both humans and wildlife.
Abstract: Exposure to mercury pollution could be hitting some wild birds’ reproductive prospects hard by causing males to pair with other males. American white ibises (Eudocimus albus) from south Florida that consumed methylmercury (MeHg), the most toxic and easily absorbed form of mercury found in the environment, were more likely to engage in same-sex pairings – a phenomenon unknown in wild populations of this species with no exposure to the pollutant.
Abstract: Bluefin tuna accumulate mercury by virtue of their position atop the ocean food web. Mercury levels in the upper ocean have tripled since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and human activities are to blame, researchers report today in Nature. Although several computer models have estimated the amount of marine mercury, the new analysis provides the first global measurements. It fills in a critical piece of the global environmental picture, tracking not just the amount of mercury in the world’s oceans, but where it came from and at what depths it is found.
As many as 180 million Americans have more than a half billion teeth restored with fillings made with mercury.
Channel 2’s consumer investigator Jim Strickland witnessed a Buckhead dental office become a hazmat zone. Everyone, including Strickland, was in full hazmat gear as Dr. Michaela McKenzie removed a mercury filling.
“Mercury is extremely toxic,” McKenzie said. “It’s more poisonous than arsenic. And you’re putting it in patients.