ADIA is the peak business organisation representing manufacturers and suppliers of dental products. Our vision is for an industry that empowers oral health professionals to advance the health and wellbeing of all Australians...................... — ADIA Strategic Plan


Government To Promote Amalgam Separator Installation

Government To Promote Amalgam Separator Installation

10th Jan 17

Summary —

Australia's dental industry has backed proposals by the Australian Government for a national communications campaign promoting the voluntary installation of dental amalgam waste traps and separators, an outcome arising from the likely ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

Key Issues For The Dental Industry —

The Minamata Convention on Mercury is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury.  The interests of the dental industry rest in the fact that dental amalgam is one of three products that represent the most significant sources of mercury in this category, the other two being pesticides and dental amalgam.

Dental amalgam contains approximately 50% mercury and is used in around one-quarter of new fillings.  As a result of the dental industry’s development of new and innovative pathways, dental professionals have now adopted the use of alternative, non-mercury containing products such as resin composite and glass-ionomer in the majority of their dental restoration work.

Although the use of dental amalgam is showing a sustained decrease in Australia, mercury may be released into the environment from the removal of existing amalgam fillings from patients during dental procedures such as replacement fillings, crowns and extractions.

In the coming months, the Australian Government will be considering ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, an outcome considered likely.  To assess what actions are needed to reduce the amount of mercury released into the environment, and the benefits and costs of taking those actions, an Exposure Draft Final Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) on ratifying the Minamata Convention on Mercury is now available for public comment.  It can be downloaded from the link below:


Australian Government Consultation Document —


Final Regulation Impact Statement Exposure Draft - National phase down of mercury [PDF]

Extracted amalgam materials are either rinsed into sewage systems or are disposed of as municipal waste. There is currently no national regulation governing the use, control or release of mercury waste from dental practices.

The Australian Government has accepted advice from ADIA that the best management practice to reduce mercury releases from dental facilities is to install traps and separators that collect the mercury-containing waste before it enters the sewage system; the trapped waste can then be recycled for reuse as dental amalgam.  Thus, the discussion paper puts forward a recommendation that after ratification of the Convention, it runs a national communications campaign promoting voluntary installation of dental amalgam waste traps and separators.  It is estimated that this measure would collect approximately 1,300 kilograms of mercury each year.

This outcome is a result of a sustained advocacy effort by ADIA at a departmental and parliamentary level which has been focussed on securing ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, something now considered likely.  ADIA is currently supporting the Australian Government as it as it moves towards ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury and then putting in place the necessary arrangements to ensure that Australia meets its obligations.

Member engagement —

The ADIA-DRC Dental Regulation Committee is responsible for setting policy on matters associated with dental products.  Periodic updates are provided to members attending the quarterly series of ADIA State Branch Briefings.

Further Information —

To keep up to date on development associated with ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, follow ADIA on Facebook at or subscribe to the Twitter feed @AusDental.  Questions concerning this policy issue can be sent to or you can telephone 1300 943 094.

Currency Of Information & Disclaimer —

This update was issued on 10 January 2017 and please note that changes in circumstances after the publication of material or information may impact upon its accuracy and also change regulatory compliance obligations. The statements, regulatory and technical information contained herein are believed to be accurate and are provided for information purposes only. Readers are responsible for assessing its relevance and verifying the accuracy of the content. To the fullest extent permitted by law, ADIA will not be liable for any loss, damage, cost or expense incurred in relation to or arising as a result of relying on the information presented here. 

This publication is available for your use under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia licence, with the exception of the ADIA logo, images and where stated.

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