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Br Dent J. 2001 May 26;190(10):558-60.

Mercury vapour release from a dental aspirator.

Author information

1
Coventry University, School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, UK. clivestonehouse@hotmail.com

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To investigate the release of mercury vapour from a dental aspirator which vented its waste air through its base directly into the surgery environment.

METHODOLOGY:

Mercury vapour in air concentrations were measured at the breathing zone of the dentist during continuous operation of the aspirator. Further series of mercury vapour measurements taken at the aspirator exhaust vent were carried out to determine the sources of mercury vapour from this particular device.

RESULTS:

At the dentist's breathing zone, mercury vapour concentrations of ten times the current occupational exposure limit of 25 micrograms/m3 were recorded after 20 minutes of continuous aspirator operation. A build up of amalgam contamination within the internal corrugated tubing of the aspirator was found to be the main source of mercury vapour emissions followed by particulate amalgam trapped within the vacuum motor. As the vacuum motor heated up with run time, mercury vapour emissions increased. It was found that the bacterial air exhaust filter (designed to clean the contaminated waste air entering the surgery) offered no protection to mercury vapour. In this case the filter trapped particulate amalgam which contributed to further mercury vapour contamination as high volume air was vented through it.

CONCLUSION:

It is not known how many dental aspirators are in use that vent their waste air directly into the surgery or if this aspirator is representative of others in existence. The safety of dental aspirating systems with regard to mercury vapour exposure requires further investigation.

PMID:
11411891
DOI:
10.1038/sj.bdj.4801034a
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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