Radiographic Chemicals

Reducing Dental X-Ray Chemical Use

A Pollution Prevention Perspective


We conducted a survey of dental radiography in the San Francisco area. This survey was part of a cooperative project sponsored by CDA, local dental societies, city agencies, and the US Environmental Protection Agency.
What We Found

Our dental co-researchers who responded to the survey told us:

  • average number of x-ray exposures = 70 / dentist / week.
  • spoiled exposures = 2 / dentist / week (about 3%), with main causes being patient movement, film orientation, and developing problems.
  • developer and fixer use on average = 0.5 oz of each / exposure.
  • digital radiography is used by 28% of the surveyed practices.

What We Recommend

These survey responses give us clues on how dental practices can reduce their radiographic chemical use. Three primary strategies are:

  • Check your developer & fixer use. If you are significantly above 0.5 oz of each per exposure, then investigate why. Also, check product mixing instructions.
  • Decrease your rate of spoiled exposures by resolving problems from film orientation, film processing, and other issues you discover.
  • If feasible, change to digital radiography.
    The last two of these approaches have the important added benefit of decreasing patient and staff exposure to x-ray emissions.

More Information
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