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The American Dental Association's Response to the Problem of Mercury Amalgam Wastes





  • "There is much 'fuzzy science' and doublespeak in the ADA's 'Initiative'--which should more appropriately be called 'Impediment'," said Charles Brown, Esq., of Consumers for Dental Choice. "The upshot is that ADA recommends doing little more than what the law requires." The Environ report's cost analysis for capturing dental mercury--estimated at between $45,000 to $141,000 per pound--is wildly off-base, compared to real life examples in dental clinics in both the US and Canada, say the groups. "I am surprised that the ADA would stand behind such wildly erroneous cost estimates for capturing dental mercury, when their own scientists have recently evaluated amalgam separators," said Bender. "Based on the latest government estimates, the average cost for dental clinics to operate amalgam separators is about $60 per month, with a one time upfront cost of between $1,000 to $1,500 to purchase an amalgam separator. How that equates to over $40,000 to capture a pound of dental mercury is beyond me." Read the full MPP analysis of the Environ Report.


ADA Statement: Dental Amalgam in Dental Office Wastewater


The American Dental Association (ADA) and its members are committed to providing the best possible health care in an environmentally responsible manner. Since the early 1980's, the ADA has advocated for the proper handling and recycling of amalgam tooth-filling wastes from dental offices.

In addition, the ADA developed a comprehensive action plan that addresses amalgam in dental office wastewater, including an assessment of the release of mercury from dental offices, educational activities for dental office personnel and the effectiveness of current amalgam reduction technology. The plan is being implemented now, starting with the scientific assessments on which all ADA policy is based.

In the meantime, the ADA has evaluated the efficiency of commercially available amalgam separators, a dental office device that filters amalgam particles from wastewater. The results of that study were published in the May 2002 issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association as a guide to ADA members.

The ADA is aware that some waste amalgam particles generated during the placement and removal of amalgam restorations (fillings) end up in dental office wastewater. However, a 1996 study found that when amalgam particles were subjected to simulated wastewater treatment processes, no soluble mercury was detected, even at a concentration of one part per billion.

Nonetheless, dentists around the country, with leadership from organized dentistry, are increasingly adopting a best management practices approach to environmental issues.

The ADA does not endorse any single pretreatment source reduction method but believes that any reduction method should consider factors specific to a dental office. In addition, the ADA will continue to evaluate new reduction technology as it becomes available and actively address the issue of amalgam in dental wastewater.

Page Updated: December 21, 2002



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