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E-M:/ Report find dentists a major mercury source
- Subject: E-M:/ Report find dentists a major mercury source
- From: Mary Beth Doyle <email@example.com>
- Date: Wed, 5 Jun 2002 11:31:07 -0400
- Delivered-To: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Delivered-To: email@example.com
- List-Name: Enviro-Mich
- Reply-To: Mary Beth Doyle <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Title: Report find dentists a major mercury
Dental Uses Among Largest Sources of Mercury Pollution; American
Dental Association Obstructs Protection Efforts
June 5, 2001
Jeff Gearhart, Ecology Center, 734-761-3186, ext. 17
Michael Bender, Mercury Policy Project, 802-223-9000.
Stacy Malkan, Health Care Without Harm, 202-234-0091, ext.
comprehensive report that looks at the environmental impacts of the
dental industry's use of mercury is being released June 5 by the
Ecology Center, the Mercury Policy Project and Health Care Without
Harm. Among other significant findings, the report reveals that the
dental industry is now the third largest user of mercury in the U.S.
and the industry is the single largest discharger of mercury to the
nation's wastewater treatment plants.
The report -- "Dentist the Menace? The Uncontrolled Release of
Dental Mercury"-- also charges the American Dental Association
with working vigorously to impede regulations that would protect the
"Despite substantial scientific evidence that mercury is
dangerous to the environment and human health, the American Dental
Association is actively working against safety measures that would
require dentists to trap and recycle this toxic metal," said Jeff
Gearhart, Campaign Director of the Ecology Center.
A 1995 report by the Michigan
Mercury Pollution Prevention Task Force issued eight recommendations,
including improved mercury waste management, but no systematic
programs to remove dental mercury from the waste stream have been put
into place. One successful endeavor, a bulk mercury collection
effort by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, in conjunction
with an education campaign for dentists on best management practices,
resulted in the collection of over 1300 pounds of mercury. The success
of that one-time, voluntary project underscores the need for a more
comprehensive dental mercury collection effort.
Mercury is a potent neurotoxin
that can affect the brain, spinal cord, kidneys and liver. One in 10
reproductive-age American women already carry so much mercury in their
blood to pose a threat of neurological damage to the fetus if they got
pregnant, according to a 2001 Centers for Disease Control &
"While many other industries, including hospitals, are phasing
out the use of mercury products, the dental industry continues to use
large amounts of mercury and dispose of it improperly. We call
on ADA, and on dentists everywhere, to pledge to stop polluting our
environment and endangering our health," stated Michael Bender of
the Mercury Policy Project.
In the process of restoring teeth with so-called "silver"
fillings - which are actually 50% mercury - dentists use approximately
40 metric tons of mercury each year, most of which is eventually
released into the environment.
Fortunately, alternative filling
materials are available, and there are cost effective devices to
properly manage waste dental mercury. "For about $50 a month,
slightly less than the cost of a single filling, dentists could stop
mercury from going down the drain," Bender said.
Yet only a small percentage of
dentists nationwide are taking steps to collect and recycle mercury
waste, including installing amalgam separation filters necessary to
reduce mercury discharges.
The report is available at
Mary Beth Doyle, MPH
Environmental Health Project
117 N. Division
Ann Arbor MI 48104
734-663-2400 ext 108