For the first time in history, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) is evaluating international regulations that would ban mercury-containing products including silver/amalgam dental fillings, which contain 50% mercury and are already in the mouths of more than 122 million Americans.
The DOS will present their official position on the use of mercury in amalgam fillings and other medical devices at a stakeholder meeting on Monday, October 24th, from 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM at the DOS headquarters on 2201 C Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. Members of the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) will attend the meeting to encourage a ban on mercury/silver dental amalgam fillings.
The U.S. government's monumental decision about mercury fillings is being made in preparation for the third session of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC3), scheduled for later this month in Nairobi, Kenya. The committee was created with the specific purpose of developing a global, legally-binding instrument on mercury due to its significant negative effect on human health and the environment.
Mercury, a potent neurotoxin used in dental amalgam fillings, can damage the brain, kidneys, and nervous system, and is particularly harmful to the fetus and young children. Substantial, peer-reviewed, scientific evidence proving these dangers is documented in IAOMT's Petition for Reconsideration, which was filed with the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2009.
The hazards of mercury filings have also been addressed by other international groups. In 1991, the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded that dental amalgam is "the greatest source of mercury exposure for the general population, exceeding those from food and air."
In the United States, President Obama has recognized the hazards of mercury since 2008, and he emphasized the need to protect children from being exposed to mercury in his September 8, 2011 speech to Congress.
Yet, no actions to defend the American public from the known risks of mercury/silver dental fillings have been taken, although a recent submission by the U.S. to UNEP's Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee supports "further consideration of dental amalgam by the INC...with the goal of potential or gradual phasedown of dental amalgam and ongoing research for affordable, viable alternatives."
Such a position is unacceptable to Dr. David Kennedy, past president of IAOMT, who explains, "Using the excuse of alternative materials to further delay protecting the public is illogical because safe alternatives to mercury fillings have already been used for more than 20 years."
Leo Cashman, executive director and volunteer for the non-profit, consumer advocacy group Dental Amalgam Mercury Solutions (DAMS), agrees: "Dental amalgam is not viable when the costs of mercury poisoning to the individual, to families, and to the healthcare industry are considered."
"If we accept the current treaty language of UNEP, WHO, and the U.S. State Department, as well as their associated health declarations that I completely disagree with, the treaty will be about an 'infinite phase down' which won't even begin phasing down mercury/silver amalgam dental filling placement until 2020 the soonest, but more likely 2030, with requested exemptions by the FDI", says Dr. David Simone, who will be representing IAOMT at the DOS meeting. He reiterates, "The way it stands now, the UNEP Mercury Instrument is designed to keep placing mercury amalgams in all populations for another 20 years at least."
Freya Koss, President of the PA Coalition for Mercury-Free Dentistry, was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis after having an old mercury amalgam filling drilled out and replaced with a new one, and she will be at the meeting to insure that the DOS keeps mercury fillings in a proposed ban portion of the INC treaty.
Marie Flowers, President of Dental Amalgam Mercury Solutions (DAMS), experienced neurological symptoms following the removal of a mercury amalgam filling and will likewise be at the DOS meeting on Monday. Flowers has commented, "The U.S. lags behind countries such as Sweden, who initiated a mercury phase out in 1987, followed by Denmark and Norway, who banned dental mercury amalgam in 2009.
Nashville's Fox 17 anchor Stacy Case told her personal story of mercury poisoning to the FDA at a recent Town Meeting in San Francisco: "I had four amalgams unsafely removed and replaced with four shiny mercury fillings, and I got out of bed one day and couldn't walk." However, Case recovered from her diagnosis of multiple sclerosis after her fillings were safely removed. Her message to the U.S. government is clear: "Use your power and position for good. Please right this wrong!"
IAOMT and other groups are strongly urging the DOS to support the position of the U.S. Government as stated in February 2009 by Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, who announced, "Mercury poses a serious threat to public health in communities around the world...The United States will play a leading role in working with other nations to craft a global, legally binding agreement that will prevent the spread of mercury into the environment and improve the health of workers, pregnant women, and children throughout the world."
Monday's DOS meeting about the U.S. position on the INC treaty will set the international stage for the future of mercury in dentistry, which many hope will be the end of drilling a potent neurotoxin into the mouths of an unsuspecting international public.