I Bought An Amalgam Separator Why Doesn’t It Work?

That will be the question asked more and more as we approach the year 2020 and beyond.  The Dental Rule 40CFR Part 441 has placed the dental office into the industrial category as a waste generator.  The specific waste in this category is Mercury.  Mercury is considered a hazardous/toxic waste.  The reason is clear.  It is a neurotoxin!  One of the most toxic neurotoxins is a mercury compound called Methyl Mercury, which is found in fish.  The primary source for this toxin is mercury dissolved in water.

The Dental office is now the largest discharger of mercury into the aquatic environment.  The data in table one is the average mercury discharge from four major environmental sources.

Table 1

Industry Average Mercury Discharge
All Industrial Users 121 ng/L
Residential 125 ng/L
Medical 365 ng/L
Dental 14300 ng/L

The data is an accumulation of actual data since 2003.  Outliers were eliminated.

To be more specific, a recent evaluation of 11 Dental office discharges in June 2019 in table 2 below not only supported that concern but showed an even more devastating average.

Office/Practice Amalgam Use Separator Type Mercury Discharge
Office 1 General Dentistry Places and Removes Amalgams none 11,600 ng/L
Office 2 General Dentistry Only Removes Amalgams DRNA 12,000ng/L
Office 3 Implants and General Dentistry Only Removes Amalgams HG 5 4,680 ng/L
Office 4 General Dentistry Places and Removes Amalgams HG 5 10,900 ng/L
Office 5 General Dentistry Only Removes Amalgams NXT 204,000 ng/L
Office 6 General Dentistry Only Removes Amalgams APAVEA 15,300 ng/L
Office 7 General Dentistry

 

Places and Removes Amalgams None 180,000 ng/L
Office 8 General Dentistry

 

Only Removes Amalgams HG 5 16,800 ng/L
Office 9 General Dentistry

And Pediatric Dentistry

Places and Removes Amalgams NXT 1,280,000 ng/L
Office 10 General Dentistry

 

Places and Removes Amalgams R & D 1,050,000 ng/L
Office 10 General Dentistry

 

Only Removes Amalgams NXT 49,600 ng/L
    Average 258000 ng/L

Table #2 tells a local story in a snapshot, however, the numbers are real and the situation is real.  The separators are removing 95% of the amalgam from the dental discharge but the 1-5% that is continuing to be released IS the problem.  Separators only remove the solid content, they do not remove the mercury that is being dissolved.  The dissolved mercury is the real issue.  That mercury comes from the amalgam that is dissolving in the separator.  There is a real solution. The solution is coming in the next blog.

 

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