The Ongoing Fight Against Dental Mercury Amalgam
Posted on Friday, February 18th, 2011
Late last month, the Second Session of the World Mercury Treaty negotiations was held in Chiba, Japan. The World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry (WAMFD) – a coalition of consumer organizations from around the globe – was there to advocate for a provision to phase out mercury fillings. Charlie Brown, National Counsel of Consumers for Dental Choice and President of the WAMFD, recently sent this progress report:
- Our meeting kicked off with the announcement that the World Health Organization has withdrawn the biased paper that the American Dental Association so heavily cited as “reinforc[ing] dental amalgam as a safe and effective restorative material.” The alleged WHO report had been passed off as the conclusions of the team of scientists, environmentalists, and dentists who met in November 2009 to discuss the future of amalgam. We exposed the paper as nothing more than a propaganda piece slapped together by a rogue dentist inside WHO who failed even to consult the other meeting participants before signing their names to his paper (needless to say they were furious; they did not remember ever declaring amalgam safe). Then, we organized the worldwide condemnation of this paper that led to its hurried retraction. You can learn how we accomplished this feat step-by-step by watching this video interview, courtesy of filmmaker Kelly Gallagher.
- Because of our work, the first draft of the treaty lists amalgam as one of only five mercury products to be phased out. While the war is not won, we did succeed in keeping it on the list for now.
- Thanks to the efforts of our regional vice presidents Dr. Naji Kodeih and Dominique Bally, both the Arab League and the African region announced that they support the phase-out of amalgam and the promotion of alternatives.
- We gained a valuable new ally dedicated to ending dental mercury: Health Care Without Harm. We congratulate Health Care Without Harm for convincing the Mexico City Health Secretariat to deauthorize the purchase of amalgam in the city’s hospitals and obtaining a discussion paper from Argentina calling for a phase down of amalgam and use of alternatives.
Unfortunately, adds Charlie, “The delegates made no major decisions in this early round, not on amalgam, not on anything. Thus how amalgam will ultimately be addressed in this treaty will not be determined until the third negotiating session, to be held in an African city in October.”
Meanwhile, The Guardian reports that the “European commission is due to publish the findings of its review on dental amalgam fillings in March. In a preliminary report, published online in July, the company tasked with the study, Bio Intelligence Service, recommended phasing out mercury in dental care in Europe.”
Of course, it was just a few years ago when the EC’s Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) released its report (PDF) touting the safety of mercury fillings. “SCENIHR recognises that dental amalgam is an effective restorative material,” they wrote, “and may be considered the material of choice for some restorations….We conclude that dental health can be adequately ensured by both types of material [mercury amalgam and composite]. All the materials are considered safe to use and they are all associated with very low rates of local adverse effects with no evidence of systemic disease.”
That’s what they said. But their report was greatly flawed. Now, a paper by Dr. Joachim Mutter recently published in the Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology casts a very bright light on those flaws. The main problem? According to Dr. Mutter,
SCENIHR disregarded the toxicology of mercury and did not include most important scientific studies in their review. But the real scientific data show that:
(a) Dental amalgam is by far the main source of human total mercury body burden. This is proven by autopsy studies which found 2-12 times more mercury in body tissues of individuals with dental amalgam. Autopsy studies are the most valuable and most important studies for examining the amalgam-caused mercury body burden.
(b) These autopsy studies have shown consistently that many individuals with amalgam have toxic levels of mercury in their brains or kidneys.
(c) There is no correlation between mercury levels in blood or urine, and the levels in body tissues or the severity of clinical symptoms. SCENIHR only relied on levels in urine or blood.
(d) The half-life of mercury in the brain can last from several years to decades, thus mercury accumulates over time of amalgam exposure in body tissues to toxic levels. However, SCENIHR state that the half-life of mercury in the body is only “20-90 days”.
(e) Mercury vapor is about ten times more toxic than lead on human neurons and with synergistic toxicity to other metals.
(f) Most studies cited by SCENIHR which conclude that amalgam fillings are safe have severe methodical flaws.
Dr. Mutter’s paper provides an excellent overview of the research record on mercury in dental amalgam and its links to a variety of illnesses, including ALS, MS and Alzheimer’s. It’s a must-read for anyone concerned about the dangers of “silver” fillings and is freely accessible here.
Will critiques such as this, coupled with the new recommendation against mercury be enough to get the EC to ban mercury in dentistry? Stay tuned…