Serial measurements of intra-oral air mercury: estimation of daily dose from dental amalgam

J Dent Res. 1985 Aug;64(8):1072-5. doi: 10.1177/00220345850640081001.


Serial measurements of Hg concentration in intra-oral air were made during and after chewing stimulation in 35 subjects with occlusal amalgam restorations. Hg concentrations remained elevated during 30 min of continuous chewing and declined slowly over 90 min after cessation of chewing. By curve-fitting and integration analysis of data during these time periods (including corrections for respiratory volume, retention rate of inspired Hg, oral-to-nasal breathing ratios, and consumption of three meals and three snacks per day), we calculated that all subjects received an average daily Hg dose of approximately 20 micrograms. Subjects with 12 or more occlusal amalgam surfaces were estimated to receive a daily Hg dose of 29 micrograms, whereas in subjects with four or fewer occlusal amalgam surfaces, the dose was 8 micrograms. These Hg dosages from dental amalgam were as much as 18-fold the allowable daily limits established by some countries for Hg exposure from all sources in the environment. The results demonstrate that the amount of elemental Hg released from dental amalgam exceeds or comprises a major percentage of internationally accepted threshold limit values for environmental Hg exposure. It is concluded that dental amalgam Hg makes a major contribution to total daily dose.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Air / analysis*
  • Dental Amalgam*
  • Dental Restoration, Permanent
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Humans
  • Mastication
  • Maximum Allowable Concentration*
  • Mercury / analysis*
  • Mouth / metabolism*
  • Respiration
  • Time Factors
  • Volatilization


  • Dental Amalgam
  • Mercury