Mercury Amalgam Fillings
A lot of controversy surrounds the dental industry regarding the use of amalgam (silver) fillings for teeth. There are proponents that maintain the mercury inside the amalgam is bound to other materials and rendered harmless, or that the exposure to any mercury is too infinitely miniscule to cause health issues. Then there is the other side of the coin with patients and data collected over decades validating the very real cause for concern, even alarm.
Meanwhile the government entities who have been enacted to protect the public have done little to intercede or change the status quo. The MSD (Material Safety Data) on mercury, as reported by the FDA, clearly states that there are no safe levels of mercury exposure. Despite that the FDA has followed recommendations provided by the American Dental Association, regarding the safety of mercury amalgam dental fillings.
The International Treaty on Mercury
Internationally in 2013 the Minamata Convention was held and a global treated enacted to protect both human health and environmental health from the harmful, adverse effects of mercury. The highlights of this treaty were to include a ban on new mercury sources, phasing out old ones and control measures for emissions. Still the EPA and FDA remained silent, when the alarm should have gone out, the EPA and FDA maintained quiet indifference.
New EPA Proposal
At last, over a year later, the EPA has proposed new changes that validate that mercury in dental fillings is a problem. The proposed changes will not be finalized until fall of 2015 and are yet up for debate. Additionally the EPA is namely addressing the mercury emissions from waste water coming from dental offices and facilities.
Below you will find the press release announcing the new restrictions.
U.S. EPA proposes to eliminate mercury pollution from dentist offices nationwide
Release Date: 09/25/2014
Contact Information: Suzanne Skadowski, 415-972-3165, email@example.com
SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a proposal to eliminate mercury pollution from dental offices nationwide. These new Clean Water Act standards would cut discharges of dental amalgam – a mixture of mercury and other metals that dentists use to fill cavities. Under this proposal, dentists must use devices to remove mercury and other toxic metals before they go down the drain.
“This proposed rule would cut mercury and toxic metal discharges to public wastewater systems by at least 8.8 tons a year nationwide,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Bay Area communities already require dentists to use amalgam capture devices and have seen their mercury pollution levels drop nearly 75 percent. Now the rest of California and the nation will see these same benefits.”
About half the mercury that enters public water treatment systems comes from dental offices that do not use amalgam separators. When mercury from amalgam is discharged into water bodies, it can be transformed into methylmercury, a highly toxic form of mercury that builds up in fish, shellfish and fish-eating animals. People can be harmed by methylmercury when they eat contaminated fish and shellfish. Methylmercury is a neurotoxin which impairs brain and nervous system development and function.
Many states and local wastewater districts have started mercury pollution control programs that require amalgam separators in dentist offices. Amalgam separators remove 90 to 95 percent of mercury and other metal waste. Under the San Francisco Bay Regional Watershed Mercury control program, virtually all Bay Area cities and public water systems have successful mandatory dental amalgam separator programs, but this is not the case in most other communities and states.
EPA estimates that up to 120,000 dental offices in the U.S. use or dispose of amalgam fillings that contain mercury. Almost all of these offices discharge to sanitary sewers that flow to wastewater treatment plants. While most offices use some practices to reduce amalgam discharges to the sewers, they are not nearly as effective as amalgam separators. Because 40 to 50 percent of dentists across the country already use amalgam separators thanks to state and local programs, the new rule may result in installation of separators in up to 60,000 dental offices nationwide.
EPA estimates put the total annual cost of the proposed rule at $44 to $49 million and a new streamlining proposal will cut state and local oversight costs by a similar amount. This action is one way the U.S. is meeting the goals of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, an international environmental agreement that addresses human activities contributing to widespread mercury pollution.
EPA will accept public comments on the proposal for 60 days following publication in the Federal Register and expects to finalize the rule in September 2015.
More information: http://water.epa.gov/scitech/wastetech/guide/dental/
Clearly stated, this one proposed act is expected to cut mercury discharges to public water by 8.8 tons a year. *8.8 Tons Per Year. FDA: no safe level of mercury exposure.
For the health and safety of all of our patients our office uses only mercury free options for dental fillings. When mercury amalgam fillings are already present we safely, remove mercury amalgam fillings with procedures that ensure the lowest risk to the patient and the environment. It has always been our practice to put the patients health first and will continue to be our primary endeavor.
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