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Projects Database

Mercury Removal From The Dental-Unit Wastewater System

Project Information

Award Amount:$130,000.00
Dollars Leveraged:$0.00
Start-End Dates:9/1/99-9/30/03
This Great Lakes Naval Institute conducted research to evaluate and characterize mercury in dental-unit waste water, and education and outreach to dentists on mercury reduction practices.

Environmental Results/Products:
Speciation studies on dental unit waste water identified different forms of mercury present in dental-unit waste water. This data helped design a dental amalgam separator that can remove particulate bound mercury as well as dissolved mercury species. These characterization studies were the first to demonstrate the presence of organic mercury in this waste stream.

Residual mercury in amalgam capsules was also characterized and found to be a substantial source of mercury (up to 29.5 mg Hg per capsule). Based on this finding, it is recommended that used amalgam capsules be recycled or sent to hazardous waste landfills. The disposal of municipal solid waste facilities may result in incineration of the capsules which could result in volatilization to the atmosphere of the residual mercury.

Outreach included the design and publication of a web site that presents commercially available amalgam separator technologies, publications on separators, wastewater characterization, EPA methods, links to environmental web sites, speakers’ bureau information, course work and dental amalgam best management practices.

Twenty-three presentations were made to dentists, dental staff members, researchers and the general public about the removal of mercury from dental amalgam. A booth was set up at dental society meetings to distribute information on the environmental aspects of the dental practice and amalgam separators to prevent mercury from entering the wastewater.


  • Amalgam Recycling
  • Biofilms in Dental-Unit Waterlines.
    Ernest D Pederson, Mark E Stone, James C Ragain, and J Robert Kelly. Scientific Review of Issues Impacting Dentistry. Vol. 1 No. 1. December 1999. (Naval Dental Corp Electronic Publication)
  • Dental Mercury
  • Determination of Methyl Mercury in Dental-Unit Wastewater.
    Mark E Stone, Mark E Cohen, Lian Liang, Patrick Pang. Dental Materials Volume 19 (7) pp. 677-681. 2003.
  • Mercury Removal from Dental Operatory Waste Water by Polymer Treatment.
    Ernest D Pederson, Mark E Stone, and Victor G Ovsey. Environmental Health Perspective, Vol. 107, No. 1, January 1999.
  • Residual Mercury Content and Leaching of Mercury and Silver From Used Amalgam Capsules.
    Mark E Stone, Ernest D Pederson, Mark E Cohen, James C Ragain, Ronald S Karaway, Richard A Auxer, Abel R Saluta. Dental Materials Volume 18 (4) pp 289 - 294. 2002.
  • Solid Waste Disposal Issues and Dental Amalgam
    Mark E Stone, Ernest D Pederson, Mark E Cohen, James C Ragain, Jr., CAPT, DC, USN, Gordon K Jones, CAPT, DC, USN, Ronald S Karaway, John W Simecek, Kim E Diefenderfer, CDR, DC, USN, Howard Roberts, Lt. Col, DC, USAF. Scientific Review of Issues Impacting Dentistry. Vol. 2 No. 2. December 2000 (Navy Dental Corps Electronic Publication).
  • The Effect of Amalgam Separators on Mercury Loading to Wastewater Treatment Plants.
    Mark E Stone. Journal of the California Dental Association Volume 32, No. 7, pp. 593 - 600. 2004
  • Waterline Biofilm and the Dental Treatment Facility: A Review.
    Ernest D Pederson, Mark E Stone, James C Ragain, John W Simecek. General Dentistry Volume 50 (2) pp. 190-195. March - April, 2002

Funding Organizations

Below is a list of organizations with individual contacts that are funding this project.

U.S. EPA Great Lakes National Program Office - Primary Contact

77 W Jackson Blvd
Chicago, Illinois 60604
There are no individuals in this organization
associated with this project.

Organizations Receiving Funding

Below is a list of organizations with individual contacts that are receiving funding for this project.

Naval Institute for Dental & Biomedical Research - Primary Contact

Department of Bioenvironmental Sciences
Building 1-H, 310A B Street
Great Lakes, Illinois 60088
p: 847/688-1900 Ext. 83619
Individual Contacts

Associated Organizations

Below is a list of associated organizations that are NOT giving or receiving funding for this project.

U.S. Air Force Dental Investigation Service - Partner

Detachment 1, USAFSAM
310C B Street, Bldg 1H
Great Lakes, Illinois 60088-5259
p: (847) 688-7676
f: (847) 688-7667


Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable (GLRPPR)
One East Hazelwood Drive Champaign, IL 61820
(217) 333-8940

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