A comprehensive and confidential service to assess occupational exposure to mercury for dentists and those working with mercury in an industrial environment
Mercury is a toxic element and is included in the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) document EH 40. By law the occupational exposure to mercury must be assessed and controlled, as described by the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH).
The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (2002). The Occupational Exposure Standard (OES) for mercury vapour in air is now 20µg/m³. The HSE guidance note MS12 relates this OES to a urinary health guidance value (HGV) for mercury of 20µmol Hg per mol creatinine.
The Health and Safety Executive recommends that, as part of a risk assessment, regular urinary mercury determinations be undertaken for staff occupationally exposed to mercury. Where these measurements exceed the advised level then working practices and controls should be reviewed to ensure compliance with the OES.
Personal mercury levels are determined through the analysis of a urine sample.
Analysis is by either cold vapour atomic absorption spectrophotometry or ICP-MS for mercury, and ultra violet visible radiation for creatinine analysis.
Creatinine is a constant biological marker, related to the individual, which is used to adjust mercury results to a comparable level.
The UKMSS strongly recommends the screening of a potential employee as part of the enrolment process.
Interpretation of Results
Where results are higher than would normally be expected, an initial consultation is included. This is generally an explanation of the results and advice on occupational house keeping. Should further consultation be required we will be happy to help.
- Personal mercury analysis
- Confidential service
- High accuracy
- First stage of risk assessment
- Compliance with COSHH
- Consultation, advice and follow up services are available
For prices, further information and sampling packs; please contact us.
Amalgams and Pregnancy
Government Advice to Dental Practitioners concerning the use of mercury amalgam restorations in pregnant women:
On 29th April 1998, the Chief Dental Officer of the Department of Health drew dental practitioners' attention to the statement by the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT), that "...it would be prudent to avoid the placement or removal of amalgam fillings during pregnancy."
Although COT found no evidence of harm to children following amalgam restoration treatment to their mothers, they felt that treatment of pregnant women should be avoided. Exposure to mercury vapour is greatest during the placement or removal of dental amalgam. Any mercury vapour that is released during these procedures could enter the lungs and pass into the blood system, ultimately crossing the placental barrier into the developing foetus (the effects of which are not yet fully understood).
In view of this, the Department of Health was advising dentists not to use mercury amalgam restorations in pregnant patients.
In support of this statement by the Department of Health, the UKMSS recommends that dental practitioners should offer mercury health screening to their staff. The dental team is at a greater risk from mercury vapour than the patient. Under COSHH, mercury must be controlled and needs to be part of the practice risk assessment programme.
The analytical data collated by UKMSS, covering the exposure level of the dental team over the last 10 years, shows that dental nurses consistently have the highest exposure to mercury vapour. Female dental nurses could potentially be working in the dental surgery during the first months of pregnancy.
Enquiries and Technical queries -
Telephone: +44 (0)114 231 2121
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