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Dental Offices & Laboratories - Occupational and Environmental Exposure Concerns

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Published on Oct 28, 2015

In the United States alone, there are hundreds of thousands of dental workers employed at dental offices and laboratories that provide essential services for the rest of the population. These same professionals may face potential occupational hazards due to exposure risks inherent in the profession.

In addition to exposure risks associated with biological and blood-borne pathogens, there are a number of other potential material and chemical hazards that may be present in dental facilities. In fact, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “Dental office and lab workers may be exposed to beryllium, which is used to make crowns, bridges, and partial dentures. Beryllium is listed as a human carcinogen in the Thirteenth Report on Carcinogens published by the National Toxicology Program. Dental workers may face potential reproductive health risks from exposure to heavy metals, organic solvents, sterilizing substances, and anesthetic gases. They may develop respiratory diseases after long-term exposure to dental drills made of cobalt, a hard metal. Dental workers may also be exposed to phthalates, which are used to make plastic medical devices; formaldehyde-resin adhesives; glues; and coatings. If dental workers use latex gloves, they may develop latex allergies or occupational asthma.”

The U.S. National Library of Medicine also reports that, “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has concluded that there is no evidence to show that amalgam fillings that contain mercury cause harm to patients. However, dentists and dental workers should handle amalgam materials with care.”

The anesthetic gases and vapors that may leak into the surrounding room during dental procedures are considered waste anesthetic gases. According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), “It is estimated that more than 250,000 health care professionals who work in hospitals, operating rooms, dental offices and veterinary clinics, are potentially exposed to waste anesthetic gases and are at risk of occupational illness.”

Currently, there are no specific OSHA standards for dentistry. However, exposure to numerous biological, chemical, environmental, physical, and psychological workplace hazards that may apply to dentistry are addressed in specific standards for the general industry.

These are just partial list of some of the potential indoor environmental and occupational exposure concerns that may be present in dental offices and laboratories. To learn more about this or other occupational, environmental, indoor air quality, health or safety issues, please visit the websites shown below:

Clark Seif Clark http://www.csceng.com
EMSL Analytical, Inc. http://www.emsl.com
Indoor Environmental Consultants, Inc. http://www.iecinc.net
LA Testing http://www.latesting.com
Zimmetry Environmental http://www.zimmetry.com
Healthy Indoors Magazine http://www.iaq.net
Hudson Douglas Public Adjusters http://HudsonDouglasPublicAdjusters.com

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