Dental Report Highlights Reasons For Mercury Phase Out


Advocates released a report supporting recommendations by the Vermont Air Pollution Control Division and the Advisory Committee on Mercury Pollution to phase out the use of mercury dental amalgam. The report outlines the many reasons to phase out mercury in dentistry–ranging from indirect toxic releases into wastewater, landfills and farmers’ fields to more direct releases from dental clinics, human wastes and cremation.

Two years ago, the Vermont Legislature mandated requirements for dental clinics to install pollution control equipment. But advocates maintain that the legislature has not gone far enough, and a growing number of Vermont agencies, officials and committees.

In its “2007 Annual Report to the Governor, General Assembly and Citizens of the State of Vermont,” the Advisory Committee on Mercury Pollution stated its support for “an eventual phase-out of mercury-containing dental amalgam…and recommends that the Legislature consider this [in order] to virtually eliminate the release of anthropogenic mercury in Vermont.” In addition, the Committee recommends that the Legislature consider legislation to ban the use of dental amalgams in the two highest risk populations, pregnant women and children under 18. “Mercury tooth fillings are one of the largest pollution sources in Vermont today,” said Michael Bender, Director of Mercury Policy Project in a statement. “While mercury releases from human wastes and cremation may be an uncomfortable topic, most people understand that if they have mercury in their teeth, it will eventually be released into the environment.” Legislation is currently being considered in VT to phase out dental mercury use.

Department of Energy to Continue to Store Mercury Stocks

In a response to a letter from Senator Barack Obama, Department of Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman cites recognition of both health and environmental concerns for reasons why the DOE “has no current plans to sell” their stockpile of over 1,200 metric tons of mercury. According to a draft background document, “DOE will continue to store its mercury stocks while investigating alternative long-term storage options.” The December 18, 2006 background draft also states that “.. the U.S. Government’s actions not to sell mercury on the open market sends a positive message to both private and state domestic mercury holders, as well as to global mercury policy makers…By committing to long-term storage of U.S. owned mercury, the U.S. Government can develop a position for the UNEP Governing Council meeting that: 1) Indicates that the U.S. has committed to storing 70% of its stocks, and 2) the U.S. Government has in place a stakeholder process that will develop options for management of its remaining nonfederal stocks of mercury.”