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Oral Health Topics

Amalgam Waste Best Management


Less than one percent of the mercury released into the environment comes from amalgam1, and even this amount is in the form of amalgam and not methylmercury, the form of mercury which is of particular environmental concern. However, dentistry is committed to recycling dental amalgam.

To help in that endeavor, the ADA developed “Best Management Practices for Amalgam Waste” (BMPs), a series of amalgam waste handling and disposal practices.

They include (but are not limited to):

  • Using chair side traps
  • Installing amalgam separators compliant with ISO 1114322
  • Using vacuum collection
  • Inspecting and cleaning traps
  • Collecting and recycling amalgam.


  1. Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, Office of Research and Development. Mercury Study Report to Congress. Volume II: An inventory of anthropogenic mercury emissions in the United States. Washington, D.C.: Environmental Protection Agency. Publication No. EPA-452/R-97-004. December 1997, p. ES-6.
  2. International Organization for Standardization. ISO No. 11143—2008, Dentistry—Amalgam Separators. Geneva:ISO.

Amalgam in Plumbing

Because dentists are good stewards of the environment, they are encouraged to limit the release of dental amalgam waste into the environment, whenever feasible. When there is a need for plumbing work or other activities that might dislodge amalgam waste adhering to the inside of pipes, some simple steps can be followed to minimize potential health or environmental issues.

Additional Resources

Dentists are encouraged to use BMPs to help reduce the effects of amalgam waste on the environment.