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Mercury recovery in situ of four different dental amalgam separators
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences, Air and Water Science.
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2006 (English)In: Science of the Total Environment, ISSN 0048-9697, E-ISSN 1879-1026, Vol. 366, no 1, 320-336 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Amalgam separators are used to physically remove dental amalgam from waste water in dental clinics. They are thereby supposed to reduce mercury (Hg) emissions to the municipal waste water system to acceptable levels. We here present results from a comparative study in situ of three amalgam separators available on the market, all with a claimed efficiency of 99% according to Danish and ISO protocols, and using sedimentation as the principle of separation. We also present corresponding data for an investigational prototype of an improved separator. The obtained efficiency of the three commercial separators is far below what is stated by the manufacturer and by authorities assumed to be the efficiency in clinical conditions. They reduced Hg emissions by 79 - 91%, leaving an average Hg content in outgoing waste water of 1.5 mg L(-1). However, the prototype separator participating in this study retained 99.9% of the waste water Hg emissions, leaving an average Hg content in outgoing waste water of 0.004 mg L(-1). Physical restrictions prohibit sedimentary type separators to recover the Hg fractions causing the largest damages in wastewater treatment plants. This fraction is not considered in the ISO protocol for testing amalgam separators, which therefore needs to be revised. Abolishing the use of dental amalgam and cleaning the tubing systems is the most efficient long-term solution to reduce Hg emissions from dental clinics. Until then, Hg emissions originating from placing, polishing or removing existing amalgam fillings, should be counteracted by the use of low-emission amalgam separators, already on the market or presently being developed for use alone or together with sedimentary type amalgam separators.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2006. Vol. 366, no 1, 320-336 p.
Keyword [en]
amalgam separator device, mercury pollution, mercury traps, prevention, recovery efficiency
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-14816DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2005.07.007ISI: 000239499200031PubMedID: 16182343OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-14816DiVA: diva2:42587
Available from: 2008-01-31 Created: 2008-01-31 Last updated: 2011-06-27Bibliographically approved

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Hylander, Lars D.Lindh, Ulf
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