Science Fair Projects

The Effect of an Acidic Environment on Dental Amalgam


The objective: The objective is to determine if dental amalgam will release mercury when it is placed in an acidic environment for 48 hours.


Three different acids (citric, phosphoric, and sulfuric) as well as tap water were collected. These acids were used to create solutions with pH levels of 7, 5, 3, 2, 1, and 0. Dental amalgam was created by combining silver, tin, and copper with mercury in an amalgamator instrument. That amalgam was placed inside six nylon fasteners that simulated teeth. These "teeth" were each placed in one of the different acidic solutions and left for 48 hours. Then mercury test swabs were swirled around in each solution for one minute. If mercury was present, the swabs turned purple. This process was repeated twice.


In all three trials, soulution #6 (pH 0) was the only solution in which mercury was released and the nylon fastener completely dissolved. In solutions #1 (pH 7), #2 (pH 5), #3 (pH 3), #4 (pH 2), and #5 (pH 1), no mercury was released and the nylon fasteners were not dissolved.


My conclusion is that mercury can be released from dental amalgam, but only at a pH level of 0 or below, which is far below what human saliva can consistantly be.

This project is about whether or not mercury can be released from dental amalgam when placed in an acidic environment

Science Fair Project done By Kevin R. Kocher


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