Dental Recycling International, Inc. (DRI) commits to the endowment of its line of Amalgam Separators to the Maulana Azad Institute of Dental Sciences in New Delhi, India. DRI will also provide the University with chair-side amalgam recycling kits.
The units will be installed in the dental facilities on-site in order to capture and store the finer particulate amalgam waste produced at the facilities. The units will be installed for the duration of one year, whereupon the units will be sent to a proper recycling facility and analyzed for their contents. The chair-side amalgam recycling kits, which store the solid amalgam waste, will be recycled at the end of the year along with the Amalgam Separator units.
The commitment will be implemented through the shipment of the technology to the Maulana Azad Institute and the installation of the technology by faculty at the Institute. Mahesh Verma, Principal of the Maulana Azad Institute, is also President of the Indian Dental Association. Our project at the Institute will set up a process for future work throughout India and serve as a basis for replication projects in other dental facilities throughout the country.
Historically, engaging dentists directly has expedited the adoption of amalgam waste management practices. With Mahesh's prominence in Indian dentistry, this adoption process will be accelerated. In the absence of regulation, the driver for future adoptions will be the tangible results this initiative yields.
DRI specializes in dental waste management and recycling that is coupled with educational services. The aim of this project is to not only install DRI's technology, but also to advance local expertise in amalgam waste management among Indian dental professionals. Thus, the project has two primary components: logistical and educational. The logistical components involve the shipment of DRI's products, the installation of the Amalgam Separator units, and the recycling of the particulate and solid amalgam waste. The educational components involve the dissemination of best management practices for dental amalgam waste to Indian dental professionals at the Maulana Azad Institute and the training in the operation and maintenance of the Amalgam Separator technology.
The Amalgam Separator units being provided are ISO 11143 certified by the NSF, a nonprofit standards development, testing and certification organization. The units have also been certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Technology Verification program.
- Technical staff from DRI to visit Maulana Azad Institute to determine needs of the facility (October 2014)
- Shipment of DRI Amalgam Separator units to the Maulana Azad Institute (November 2014)
- The shipment process takes 2-3 weeks. After faculty at the Institute receive the units in early December, the installation will take place. The installation process can take anywhere from 1-4 weeks.
- Installation of DRI Amalgam Separator units at the Institute (January 2015)
- A portion of this Commitment will involve a research study, wherein the waste water effluent at the facility is tested for mercury content before and after the installation of the units. The influent characterization test will take place before the installation, followed by a verification testing period. The testing periods will occur during 10-day business cycles. The results from this testing will be available in February/March 2015.
Q2-Q3/15: Once installed, the Amalgam Separator units require little maintenance. DRI will issue monthly check-ins at the Institute to ensure proper functioning of the units and advise staff on best management practices for the waste produced at the facilities. Existing DRI literature on best management practices to be translated into local languages for distribution. Outreach initiative with public sector dentistry to be established with Mahesh Verma utilizing DRI's translated literature.
Q4/15: Preparation of shipment of replacement Amalgam Separator units and chair-side amalgam recycling kits for the Institute (November 2015)
- Installation of replacement DRI Amalgam Separators units at the Institute (January 2016)
- The used units will be shipped back to DRI along with the chair-side kits (February 2016)
- The used units will then be sent to a reclamation facility for content analysis (February 2016)
- The testing period will take one month and the results will take another two weeks
- The results of the analysis will be available March 2016
- The content analysis will demonstrate the exact quantity of mercury that has been prevented from entering the waste water stream in New Delhi through DRI's technology
Q2/16: Conference planned in New Delhi on mercury waste management issues in Indian dentistry (April 2016)
Mercury is a universal danger to human and environmental health. Nearly 340 tonnes of mercury are used annually in dentistry across the globe, of which between 70 to 100 tonnes likely enter the solid waste stream (UNEP Global Mercury Assessment 2013).
Mercury-containing amalgam waste enters the environment when new fillings are placed or old mercury-containing fillings are taken out, and the waste generated is then flushed into chair-side drains through which this harmful element enters the local ecological cycle.
Once elemental mercury is released into the environment through untreated discharges into rivers and lakes, it is broken down into methylmercury, which is taken up in the aquatic food chain, especially by fish. Consumption of fish and shellfish are the main sources of methylmercury exposure to humans. Mercury is a concern for human health because it is a persistent bioaccumulative neurotoxin that affects the brain and nervous system. Children in utero and early in life are at particular risk for mercury exposure.
With very conservative estimates, the city of Delhi releases around 51 kilograms of mercury each year through dental practices alone (India: Report - Moving Towards Mercury-Free Health Care: Substituting Mercury-Based Medical Devices in India by Anu Agarawal - Toxics Link , November 2009).
The challenge is that mercury-generating sources are largely unregulated throughout India and no laws or guidelines are in place to govern the release of anthropogenic sources of mercury from dental facilities.