Indian Initiative Tackles Dental Mercury Pollution

Marc Sussman


Mahesh Verma, MDS, PhD, is the president of the Delhi Dental Council as well as director and principal of the Maulana Azad Institute of Dental Sciences (MAIDS). MAIDS recently partnered with Dental Recycling International (DRI) in an effort to help reduce dental mercury pollution thanks to a Clinton Global Initiative Commitment called the New Delhi Mercury Reduction Initiative. 

Through this initiative, DRI equipped MAIDS with amalgam separators and chairside amalgam recycling kits. The separators capture dental mercury waste that is produced when a cavity is filled or removed, preventing it from ending up in the environment. This captured waste then can be recycled. Verma discusses the project as well as his thoughts about the future of dental amalgam recycling in India in this Q&A.

Q: Why did you become involved with DRI’s Clinton Global Initiative Commitment project? 

A: MAIDS has long been at the forefront of advocating for and adopting best mercury management practices. In fact, we were among the first institutions to formulate and implement our own management policies in 2007. However, we did realize our limitations at both the technological and infrastructural levels.

When we were introduced to DRI and the Clinton Global Initiative, we found that they were dedicated to the same cause but had the expertise and means to make an impact. We were glad to become the first institution in India to install amalgam separators. 

Q: What does MAIDS do with the captured amalgam waste? Are there facilities in India where this waste can be recycled?

A: Currently, we take these steps to mange the amalgam waste that’s generated at MAIDS:

  • Elemental mercury (if any) is stored in safe and puncture-proof collection containers containing either water or a solution that suppresses mercury vapor.
  • Every specialty clinic handling amalgam has contact and non-contact (scrap) amalgam jars, where all excess and scrap amalgam is stored.
  • Used amalgam capsules are stored separately and sent back to the supplier for proper recycling.
  • Due to the lack of recycling facilities in India, we are presently storing amalgam waste in our toxic waste room, but are discussing further courses of action with the Delhi Pollution Control Board (DPCB) and the Ministry of the Environment. 

Q: Do you predict that more dental professionals will capture and recycle amalgam waste going forward?   

A: Yes, definitely. Now that the Minimata Convention has been put into action (India is a signatory), there is an increased awareness among dental professionals regarding best mercury management practices. Some dentists are reducing the number of amalgam restorations being done, while others are capturing the generated waste. With an increased number of active campaigns and educational meetings, I am sure that dental professionals will become even more aware of the importance of amalgam capturing and recycling in the near future.

Q: Do you believe that the use of social media could help make the Indian dental community more aware of the need to recycle amalgam waste?

A: Absolutely. Social media platforms play a major role in broadcasting information to a relatively large group of individuals. MAIDS actually intends to start a social media platform that would be dedicated to this particular cause. 

Q: What barriers do other dental practices face when installing amalgam waste kits similar to the ones that DRI provided MAIDS with?

A: The biggest challenge regarding installing waste kits is that both financial and technological assistance is needed. 

Mr. Sussman is the founder, president, and CEO of Dental Recycling North America (DRNA) and of Dental Recycling International (DRI), which was created to operate in all markets outside the US. Some of the most renowned dental clinics in the United States, including the US Air Force Academy, the Cleveland Clinic, and the University of Colorado Dental School, have sought out DRNA’s 360° compliance solution for amalgam recycling requirements. He can be reached at

Related Articles

What Every Dentist Needs to Know About the New Amalgam Regulations

Amalgam Concerns Grow in South Africa

What Dentists Need to Know About Installing and Maintaining Amalgam Separators