Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Am Dent Assoc. 2003 Aug;134(8):1054-65.

Purchasing, installing and operating dental amalgam separators: practical issues.

Author information

  • 1EnviroBusiness, Cambridge, Mass, USA.



Growing environmental concern over the accumulation of mercury in some fish has led some state and local environmental agencies to pursue stricter regulation of mercury in wastewater. Dental offices are an identifiable source of mercury in the form of dental amalgam. Although mercury in dental amalgam is not immediately bioavailable (that is, it has not been shown to contribute significantly to the problem of mercury in fish tissue), environmental agencies in some locales are asking dental offices to install amalgam separators in an effort to reduce amalgam discharges beyond those already achieved through chairside traps and vacuum filters. Field experience indicates that the configuration and operation of the dental office infrastructure can significantly affect the choice of separator, as well as the operation and maintenance of the installed equipment.


The authors review factors related to office infrastructure and operation that dentists should consider when investing in an amalgam separator. They also provide a cost-analysis worksheet and checklist that may be useful to dentists who are considering purchasing a separator.


Before purchasing or installing an amalgam separator, dentists should consider factors specific to the available models, including size and maintenance requirements. In addition, office-specific actors should be considered (such as the plumbing configuration, available space for installation and subsequent access to that space for equipment replacement and maintenance). Dentists also should research whether any local or state regulations exist that might influence product selection or installation. Dentists should consider the effect an amalgam separator could have on existing suction equipment. Finally, dentists will want to consider the short- and long-term costs (including maintenance and parts replacement) of the available options.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Support Center