The removal of mercury from dental-operatory wastewater by polymer treatment

Environ Health Perspect. 1999 Jan;107(1):3-8. doi: 10.1289/ehp.991073.


The mercury (Hg) content of dental-operatory wastewater has become an issue in many localities, and Hg removal is rapidly becoming a matter of concern for all dental clinics. This preliminary study tested the efficacy of polymers for the removal of Hg contaminants from the dental-unit wastewater stream. Two commercially available polymers were used to treat dental-operatory wastewater. Used separately, each polymer removed from 74.9% to 88.4% of the Hg from dental-wastewater supernatant. The polymers used in combination, within the recommended pH range, removed up to 99.9% of the total Hg from dental-wastewater supernatant. The estimated optimal concentration of the two polymers is approximately 2.33 ml of each per liter of waste, and more than 90% of the Hg may be removed with 0.13 ml/l. Results indicate that a combination of the two polymers may sufficiently reduce Hg levels to allow discharge of clarified supernatants into public sewer systems.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Dentistry*
  • Mercury / analysis*
  • Polymers*
  • Water / chemistry*
  • Water Purification / methods*


  • Polymers
  • Water
  • Mercury