At the annual meeting of the #2 U.S. amalgam manufacturer, a broad-based coalition of community, faith-based, and environmental groups called on Dentsply International to cease making amalgam. The speakers unveiled a letter from 23 organizations from Pennsylvania, around the nation, and from six continents — including several religious orders — calling for Dentsply to set a timetable to phase-out mercury amalgam, according to news reports. Shareholders also similarly weighed in.
There was news coverage today of a letter sent last month by 40 scientists and NGOs, urging HHS Secretary Sebelius to expedite release of an updated consumer advisory. “This policy update needs to be sent out for comment to ensure it’s in line with the latest science.” said MPP Director Bender. Several months ago, Sebelius assured 22 US Senators that “…completing the updated advisory remains a priority for the Administration,” in response to an earlier letter from the senators to President Obama about the 2010 Dietary Guidelines. Yet scientists pointed out to Sebelius in 2011 how they were flawed. To separate the facts from the ‘fishy’ fables, see: http://mercuryfactsandfish.org/.
A manufacturer-run program for collecting mercury thermostats is failing to keep the toxic heavy metal out of the the environment, according to a new report, Turning Up the HeatII , released today. The report estimates that the industry recycling program has captured only 8% of mercury thermostats over the past decade, resulting in over 50 tons of mercury into the environment. “Companies that profited from the sale of mercury thermostats are shirking their responsibilities,” said MPP Bender in a statement that received extensive media coverage.
After four years of deliberation, a new global regime rises today that will govern toxic mercury worldwide. “Adoption of a global legal agreement on mercury is a major accomplishment,” said Michael T. Bender, co-coordinator of the Zero Mercury Working Group in an overview and a press release. “Yet the instrument is hampered by weak controls on mercury emissions from major sources like coal-fired power plants.” For more details, see a short summary of the key articles of the treaty. A more extensive summary explains more details along with some media coverage.
While no dental amalgam phase out date has been set, during the negotiations that led to the new treaty on mercury, article 6 on products in Annex C Part II, requires countries to take steps to phase down dental mercury globally. “This is the beginning of the end of dental amalgam globally,” said Michael T. Bender, MPP director, in a press release in English and Francais, which received international coverage. “We applaud the leadership role the US played in jump-starting support for a phase down in 2011 along with the concrete phase out activities in the Nordic countries, Switzerland and Japan in phasing out amalgam.”
The Zero Mercury Working Group, in cooperation with scientists from the Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI) and with other prominent scientists, organized a global webinar to release new findings that demonstrate extensive mercury contamination and summarize studies that show health effects from methylmercury occurring below the level that was considered “safe” just a few years ago. This comes ahead of the final round of United Nations negotiations, scheduled in January 2013, for a global mercury treaty. Slides from the webinar presentations are now available along with the reports: BRI report; Dr. Groth’s report for ZMWG and ZMWG summary/recommendations.
Over the past decade, awareness about the risks of mercury in certain fish has increased and pregnant women in particular have been alerted to shop carefully and a recent study indicates that over one-third of American’s mercury exposure is from tuna. But what about the risks from fish children consume at school? In it’s 2011 Annual Report to the Governor, Legislature and Citizens of the State of Vermont, the state mercury advisory committee recommended: “….collaboration between the Vermont Department of Health and the Department of Education to communicate with Vermont schools and raise awareness among faculty, staff, and parents about the methyl mercury exposure risk to young children of consuming excessive amounts of tuna fish in school lunch programs,” see: page 2 and 5 of the 2011 report. To further investigate this, MPP announced today in a statement that it is co-releasing with other groups a first ever report on testing for mercury in tuna sold to schools, “Tuna Surprise,” which received extensive media coverage.
The EEB and MPP welcomed a new study for the European Commission, which recommends phasing out dental amalgam use in five years. The BIOS report noted that mercury-free fillings appear more expensive than amalgam because the negative external costs associated with management of amalgam are not factored in. MPP director Bender discussed the EU study in a recent youtube interview, and also said that “When factoring in external costs to society, the average price of an amalgam would be 15% higher than that of a composite,” referencing a recent study on the The Real Cost of Dental Mercury.
Joined by the EU, Canada and other developed countries, the U.S. opposed a separate health provision during the fourth (of five) mercury treaty negotiation earlier this week in Punta del Este, Uruguay. “This is an example of north–south double standard over whether health issues will be addressed equitably,” stated Michael Bender , MPP director, who provided a statement on behalf of the Zero Mercury Working Group during the negotiation. “Mercury is a basic human rights issue. Health strategies to address reducing exposure to mercury must be included in this treaty.”