The dentist's exposure to elemental mercury vapor during clinical work with amalgam

Acta Odontol Scand. 1995 Feb;53(1):44-8. doi: 10.3109/00016359509005944.


Continuous measurements of mercury vapor in the breathing zone of the dentist were made under ordinary clinical conditions. Fifty old amalgam fillings were removed and replaced by new ones. The mercury vapor measurements were performed by means of atomic absorption spectrophotometry. On the basis of the type of suction device used, the measurements were divided into seven groups, each of which consisted of a series of measurements. During the cutting, filling, and polishing operations the mean mercury vapor levels in the breathing zone of the dentist were in the range of 1-2 micrograms Hg m-3 air when proper mercury hygiene measures were taken. This is far below the currently valid threshold limit value (30 micrograms Hg m-3 air) in Sweden. The saliva extractor and the dental mirror-evacuator did not influence the mercury vapor levels when used together with the high-volume evacuator. However, when only a saliva extractor was used, the cutting of amalgam fillings caused highly fluctuating mercury vapor levels, which were 2-15 times higher than the threshold limit value.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution, Indoor / analysis*
  • Dental Amalgam / chemistry*
  • Dental Polishing
  • Dental Restoration, Permanent
  • Dentists*
  • Environmental Monitoring / instrumentation
  • Humans
  • Mercury / analysis*
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Spectrophotometry, Atomic
  • Suction / instrumentation


  • Dental Amalgam
  • Mercury