The Effects of Dental Amalgam on the Environment
The disposal of dental amalgam, specifically the mercury component, has become a controversial topic in the past twenty years. Due to the concern this issue brings, many studies have taken place regarding the effect of mercury on the environment and in humans.
Amalgam is the most common material used in restorative dentistry due to its low cost, ease of use and stability (Chin et al., 2000). The basic ingredients include silver, tin, copper and mercury. Mercury is the most abundant component in amalgam and can be toxic in different forms, such as dust or vapor (Drummond, Cailas & Croke, 2003).
Amalgam waste is generated during placement and replacement of restorative materials. There are two types of amalgam waste: contact and non-contact amalgam. Contact amalgam includes amalgam that has been in contact with the tooth surface. Non-contact amalgam includes excess material that was either not placed in the restoration or left in the capsule that the amalgam came in. Contact amalgam accounts for the majority of the contami…