Mercury in dentistry, strong bans in the EU and the US

Mercury in dentistry, strong bans in the EU and the US

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The European Union will ban mercury fillings in 2018

The Council of the European Union approved a series of new measures to limit mercury pollution, and thusraise the level of protection against a toxic substance constituting a serious global risk to human health and the environment.

The new regulation introduces greater legal clarity and transparency to regulate anthropogenic emissions and the release of mercury and its components into the air, water and the measures for the member states and the Union to approve and ratify the Minamata Convention to reduce pollution by mercury internationally.

Specifically, it establishes measures and conditions at European level forcontrol and restrict the use and storage of mercury, its competitors and alloys and its trade, the manufacture and use of products with mercury and its trade, as well as the use of mercury in dental fillings and to ensure the proper management of mercury waste.

In fillings

The Commission will report in mid-2020 on the feasibility of phasing out dental amalgam, preferably before 2030, to be accompanied by a legislative proposal, if appropriate.

The first step will be to prohibit,as of July 2018, the use of mercury fillings in the treatment of milk teeth, children under 15 years and pregnant or lactating women.

And from 2019 this substance can only be used in dental amalgam if it is encapsulated. In addition, the obligation for dentists to use devices that prevent the use of mercury from endingpolluting the water.

This type of fillings consists of an alloy composed of 50% mercury along with other metals, such as silver, copper and tin.

USA, other countries and the ban on dental mercury

The United States lags far behind other Western countries, and perhaps more than some large developing states, when it comes to cracking down on the use of mercury in dentistry. "It has done nothing to protect the most vulnerable populations from exposure to mercury from amalgams," reads the petition submitted by Consumers for Dental Choice to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

In Norway and Sweden, this type of dental amalgam is no longer used; in Japan, Finland and the Netherlands it is gradually withdrawn; and in Mauritius and EU countries, its use in children is prohibited.

For its part, Denmark only uses dental amalgams in five percent of restorations, and in Germany, in 10 percent. In Bangladesh, it will be withdrawn in 2018, and in India there is a requirement to exchange them for other alternatives.

In Nigeria, the government printed and distributed consumer information brochures, while the Canadian government recommended that all dentists stop using mercury amalgams on children and pregnant women, as well as patients with kidney problems.

The petition from consumers in the United States presents arguments from various sources, such as the World Health Organization, the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks of the European Commission, and the Pan American Health Organization.

3 key measures are called for

Consumers demand three key measures from the FDA to eliminate the use of mercury in children under 15 and pregnant and lactating women:

  • First, issue a safety alert to dentists, parents, and dental consumers so that the target population stops using amalgams;
  • Second, to force manufacturers to distribute labels that include an alert so that this sector of the population does not use the amalgams in question.
  • Third, develop and implement a public information campaign to alert dentists, dental, parent, and consumer associations that amalgam is not used by the target population.

In addition, it recalls that the Minamata Convention on Mercury, which obliges nations to "gradually eliminate the use of dental amalgam," was signed by the United States on November 6, 2013.

The agreement will enter into force, and will be binding, as of August 16, after its ratification by Jamaica, which in the last week of July became the 71st state to do so.

The organization that presented the petition seeks to “educate consumers on the use of mercury in dentistry so that they can make informed decisions, curb dental mercury contamination, protect consumers, especially vulnerable populations such as children or fetuses, empower to dental assistants and hygienists to protect themselves from mercury in their employment and to promote mercury-free amalgam alternatives ”.

Translated by Verónica Firme

With information from:

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