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, 34 (1), 19-24

Health and Safety in the Dental Clinic - Hygiene Regulations for Use of Elemental Mercury in the Protection of Rights, Safety and Well-Being of the Patients, Workers and the Environment

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Health and Safety in the Dental Clinic - Hygiene Regulations for Use of Elemental Mercury in the Protection of Rights, Safety and Well-Being of the Patients, Workers and the Environment

Chunhan Ngim et al. Singapore Dent J.

Abstract

The rules governing the use of metallic mercury, a toxic and hazardous chemical, is in most jurisdictions identical to widely accepted standards and practices for handling the same chemical in industry for the protection of humans and their work environment. There cannot be exceptions solely for the practitioner dentists and their patients. Any workplace must be safe for both workers and visitors. The latter being dental patients waiting in the dentist's work environment. We reviewed the literature for toxic health effects of elemental mercury upon humans and present information about the Minimata Convention convened by the United Nations Environment Programme. A study conducted among dentists in Singapore and their personal work environment almost 30 years ago contributed to the workplace standard for elemental mercury, which was reduced, and is still currently enforced as a global standard. We recommend that dentists, with a large alternative battery of restorative materials today, make selection of a restorative material a more seriously considered choice, and not to make use of amalgam without the proper use of personal protective equipment for themselves (members of the dental operating team) and their patients, (amalgam traps and judicious monitoring of their workplace air quality). Mercury is ubiquitous in our presence due to human activities; any reduction in the dentists' workplace contributes to a global reduction.

Keywords: Mercury toxicity; Occupational health; Safety of workplace.

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