Cornerstone Dental and Amalgam Separators
Amalgam separators – an important water filter.
Helping protect Brisbane’s waterways.
The presence of mercury in Brisbane’s sewerage systems not only limits the recovery of waste and recycling of water, it compromises both environmental and human health. Amalgam separators help filter mercury from waste water before it reaches our sewerage systems.
The Mercury Problem
Mercury is being released into Queensland’s sewerage systems from a range of industrial, commercial and domestic premises. It is believed that dental practices are contributing to this problem through the extraction and treatment of amalgam fillings. Some European countries, such as Sweden, have been trying to phase out the use of amalgam dental fillings for environmental reasons. We at Cornerstone Dental rarely place new amalgam fillings. This is not because it is due to any health concerns: dental amalgam has low mercury content and is considered safe for most people. It is a strong, inexpensive metal alloy still widely used to restore teeth and treat tooth decay. We have found that alternative tooth-coloured filling materials are requested more often by patients, are becoming equally as affordable, and are almost as strong physically (technology in restorative chemistry is always improving).
Although mercury occurs naturally in the environment, incorrect disposal of materials like dental amalgam can add to mercury levels in the environment that concentrate in the food chain. Installation of amalgam separators will make a significant contribution to the process of eradicating mercury from our sewerage systems. Installation of amalgam separators is not compulsory in Queensland, but we at Cornerstone Dental believe that this is a valuable way of protecting our waterways and minimising the environmental impact of our practice. And it is also a way of future proofing, as Victoria is leading the way in clean amalgam handling in Australia.
The Dentists for Cleaner Water project is a partnership between the water industry in Victoria, the Australian Dental Association Victorian Branch (ADAVB) and the Environment Protection Authority Victoria. This program aims to promote the installation and use of amalgam separators in private sector dental practices, to help eliminate mercury from Victoria’s sewerage systems.