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.