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Water Quality | Mercury Publications

Mercury Publications, Outreach Resources, and Guidelines

Publications: Northeast States Succeed in Reducing Mercury in the Environment

NEIWPCC collaborated with the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM) and the Northeast Waste Management Officials’ Association (NEWMOA) to produce four reports that document the results of regional mercury reduction programs.

Outreach Resources

* Overview of Mercury for the Public

* Fish Consumption Advisories

Statewide fish consumption advisories have been issued for all of the New England states, and well as New York State. Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont have issued statewide advisories for all freshwaters. Massachusetts, Maine, and New York, have issued statewide advisories for all freshwater and coastal or estuarine waters.

In general, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency advise that women and young children eat 8-12 ounces per week, limiting consumption to fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury. The most commonly eaten fish that are low in mercury are shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, tilapia, cod, and catfish. Canned albacore “white” tuna has more mercury than canned light tuna, so only 6 ounces of this fish should be consumed per week. Women and children should not eat tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico, shark, swordfish, or king mackerel because these types of fish contain high levels of mercury.

States offer more specific advice based on their fish tissue monitoring data. Some states provide information only for women of childbearing age and children, while other states also provide information for the general population. All of the states post fish consumption advisory information on their respective websites.

* Dental Mercury / Dental Amalgam

Mercury is used in making dental amalgam, which is a filling material for teeth. Amalgam contains approximately 45 to50 percent mercury, with the remainder consisting of silver, copper, and tin. When dentists remove and place amalgam fillings, small particles of amalgam enter the waste stream and are released to wastewater treatment facilities. Mercury that reaches wastewater treatment facilities is concentrated in the biosolids, which can then be released to the environment when biosolids are incinerated, land-filled, or beneficially re-used.

Amalgam separators can remove most of the amalgam from dental wastewater. In 1999, the International Standardization Organization (ISO) developed a standard for dental amalgam separators (ISO 11143) that included a laboratory test method for determining amalgam removal efficiency of separators and established a minimum amalgam removal efficiency of 95 percent.

In New England, all states require installation of amalgam separators. All of the states have developed Best Management Practices for dental offices.

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