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J Dent Res. 1988 Sep;67(9):1235-42.

Determination of the rate of release of intra-oral mercury vapor from amalgam.

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Department of Dental Materials and Technology, Faculty of Odontology, University of UmeƄ, Sweden.


The experimental and analytical difficulties associated with the measurement of mercury vapor in the oral cavity are considerable. In the present paper, the objective was to measure the amount of intra-oral mercury vapor in subjects with amalgams, by means of two sets of equipment based on different functional principles. In addition, it was found that the type of mercury source prevalent in the oral cavity had to be evaluated. The measuring technique used to obtain correct results is discussed, and an evaluation of the conditions for the application of the measuring equipment available was made. It was found that the amount of mercury released from the oral cavity was time-dependent. Furthermore, the amount of mercury released with the time kept constant was almost independent of the pumping flow rate up to 8 L/min. It was found that the tissue, saliva, and the amalgam restorations were not depleted of mercury during the measuring time. The results of the Mercollector-Mercometer measurements carried out on seven subjects with nine or more occlusal surfaces restored with dental amalgam and on three subjects without any amalgam restorations revealed that the rate of mercury release was in the range 0.03-0.34 ng/sec in the former group and less than 0.01 ng/sec in the latter. Based on the experimental results and on theoretical considerations, it was concluded that the amount of mercury released per time unit is the only quantity measurable.

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