Dental amalgam – a tooth filling material that is 50% mercury – is the leading intentional use of mercury in the United States. Half of the mercury in wastewater comes from dentistry. From there, microorganisms can convert dental mercury into even more toxic methylmercury that contaminates fish and harms children’s developing neurological systems even before they are born.
Dentists around the world – including virtually all dentists in Nordic nations, many European Union countries, and Japan – have stopped using amalgam, yet over half of U.S. dentists still place more than 15 tons of mercury into the mouths of Americans each year. Many dentists who use mercury refuse to even install amalgam separators – a filter designed to catch most dental mercury before it goes down the drain to wastewater treatment plants. And the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is letting these polluters get away with it!
In 2010, EPA announced that it would write a rule by 2012 requiring dentists to at least use best management practices, including installing and properly maintaining amalgam separators. Now after four years of excuses, secrecy, and delays, it appears that EPA Headquarters is ready to throw the brakes on the rule-making process.
What happened? The draft EPA dental mercury rule was written more than two years ago, then it was leaked, and apparently someone (guess who?) objected. Now some in EPA Headquarters are dragging their feet, even though their own staff is clamoring for the dental mercury rule to move forward.
If naysayers have their way, there will be no opportunity for public comment on the EPA dental mercury rule…no restrictions on dentists who dump mercury into our communities…and no protection at all for the many children who are subjected to dental mercury exposure twice – once from their own amalgam fillings and again from dental mercury pollution.
For more information:
Midnight Deal on Dental Mercury at http://mercurypolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/dentalmercurymidnightdealreportforweb.pdf
Consumers for Dental Choice at www.mercury-free.org
Join the discussion on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MercuryFreeDentistry?ref=hl
To abandon the long-promised dental mercury rule would be disastrous on all levels:
(1) Dental mercury would continue to be dumped into our environment – where microorganisms can convert it to even more toxic methylmercury. This methylmercury can contaminate fish and shellfish consumed by pregnant women, which can harm children’s developing neurological systems even before they are born.
(2) The U.S. just signed the new Minamata Convention on Mercury. Ditching its dental mercury rule-making only a few months later would send a clear message to the international community and the states: the U.S. government is not serious about cutting mercury pollution.
(3) Some insiders and perhaps industry have apparently already been afforded the opportunity to comment on the draft dental mercury rule. To end the rule-making process now would deny the public the opportunity to comment – even though it is our children’s health and the health of our future generations at stake.
We urge EPA to IMMEDIATELY release its dental mercury rule for public comment.