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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 4-8

Managing amalgam phase down: An evaluation of mercury vapor levels in a dental center in Lagos, Nigeria

1 Department of Restorative Dentistry, Lagos State University College of Medicine, Lagos, Nigeria
2 Department of Preventive Dentistry, Lagos State University College of Medicine, Lagos, Nigeria
3 Department of Restorative Dentistry, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Lagos, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
Afolabi Oyapero
Department of Preventive Dentistry, Lagos State University College of Medicine, Ikeja, Lagos
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jdrr.jdrr_20_17

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Background: Occupational exposure to elemental mercury vapor in a dental setting is mainly through inhalation exposure during preparation, insertion, polishing, and removal of amalgam fillings including storage of amalgam waste before disposal. This study aims to determine the indoor air levels of elemental mercury vapor in the dental operatories and ancillary sites at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH). Materials and Methods: Samples of the ambient air were taken at seven locations the Dental Center of LASUTH by a trained technician between 9:00 and 11:00 a.m. This was done at a predetermined height (41/2feet) above the floor for mercury vapor concentration using Lumex 915 light data logger mercury vapor analyzer manufactured by Ohio Lumex Company Incorporation, USA®. Results: The highest level of 1434 ng/m3 of mercury vapor in the air was found in the restorative clinic while the lowest of 23 ng Hg/m3 was found in the ambient air at the entrance of the dental Center. The Oral Surgery clinic had mercury vapor level of 318 ng/m3 which was slightly higher than Environmental Protection Agency recommended value of 0.3 μg/m3. Conclusion: An unacceptably high level of mercury vapor was detected, especially in the restorative clinic. Every dental clinic should have its ambient air evaluated for mercury vapor level for the purpose of forming a baseline data for monitoring purposes during the period of phase down of amalgam use. Best practices should also be instituted to reduce the level of exposure of patients and dental care workers to mercury vapor.

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