Mercury release from dental amalgams into continuously replenished liquids

T. Okabe, B. Elvebak, L. Carrasco, J. L. Ferracane, R. G. Keanini, H. Nakajima

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Objective: Studies have been performed using high- and low-copper amalgams to measure the amounts of mercury dissolution from dental amalgam in liquids such as artificial saliva; however, in most cases, mercury dissolution has been measured under static conditions and as such, may be self-limiting. This study measured the mercury release from low- and high-copper amalgams into flowing aqueous solutions to determine whether the total amounts of dissolution vary under these conditions when tested at neutral and acidic pH. Methods: High- and low-copper amalgam specimens were prepared and kept for 3 days. They were then longitudinally suspended in dissolution cells with an outlet at the bottom. Deionized water or acidic solution (pH1) was pumped through the cell. Test solutions were collected at several time periods up to 6 days or 1 month and then analyzed with a cold vapor atomic absorption spectrophotometer. After dissolution testing, the specimens were examined using SEM/XEDA for any selective degradation of the phases in the amalgam. Results: Except for the high-copper amalgam in the pH1 solution, the dissolution rates were found to decrease exponentially with time. The rate for the high-copper amalgam in pH1 solution slowly increased for 1 month. The total amounts (μg/cm2) of mercury released over 6 days or 1 month from both types of amalgam in deionized water were not significantly different (p ≥ 0.05). The high-copper amalgam released significantly more mercury than the low-copper amalgam in the pH1 solution at both time periods. For both amalgams, the dissolution in pH1 was significantly higher than in deionized water. Significance: Mercury dissolution from amalgam under dynamic conditions is enhanced in an acidic media, and most prominently for a high-copper formulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-45
Number of pages8
JournalDental Materials
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2003


  • Dental amalgam
  • Dynamic dissolution
  • Mercury release

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Dentistry(all)
  • Mechanics of Materials


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