By Dr. Mercola
Since you read this newsletter, you probably already know that amalgam dental fillings are 50 percent mercury and that mercury-free filling choices are available. But not everyone can make that choice. Whether insurance companies refuse to pay for mercury-free fillings or vulnerable children are subjected to it without their parents' knowledge, mercury-based amalgam fillings still account for almost half of all fillings in the United States today.
Mercury Poisons Our Children
Mercury — a potent poison — is not safe for anyone, but it is especially dangerous for children, whose developing brains are very sensitive to the neurotoxic effects of mercury. That is why it is never a good idea to implant an amalgam filling centimeters from your child's brain.
But as long as dentists use amalgam, no child — including those without amalgam fillings — is safe from the long reach of its mercury. Why? The environmental reason: Dental amalgam is the largest use of mercury in America today. Amalgam's mercury goes into the air we breathe, the ground soil that grows our vegetables, the lakes we fish from, and the community water supply we drink from. Children are still exposed to dental mercury by such everyday activities as:
- Going to dental offices that use amalgam, which have higher levels of mercury in their air
- Living or going to school near crematoria, which emit mercury from cremated bodies with amalgam in them
- Eating fish with high mercury content, some of which comes from amalgam that is released into the environment
This week (August 20 through August 27), I am proud to match your donation dollar for dollar to the champion of the cause of mercury-free dentistry, Consumers for Dental Choice. Consumers for Dental Choice has a great track record of success. Led by my friend, Charlie Brown, a former state attorney general, this nonprofit group ended the state gag rules which directed silence by dentists about the mercury in "silver fillings" (a false name if there ever was one).
Consumers for Dental Choice created and led the world alliance that brought home the bacon at the Minamata Convention on Mercury, imposing a duty on every nation to scale down amalgam use and providing a road map on how to do it. And Consumers for Dental Choice prevailed over the pro-mercury forces to gain a spectacular visit in Europe this year. Here is your chance to keep the momentum going.
Victory in Europe!
Big policy changes don't happen overnight. Take Sweden, famous for banning amalgam use in its country. Actually, Swedish policymakers needed a series of baby steps that led to a total ban. The one giant step among them was to ban amalgam use in children and pregnant women. Consumers for Dental Choice and its European allies were determined to see the Swedish success replicated.
It took six years of meeting with government officials, submitting comments, presenting testimony, organizing the grassroots, collecting signatures for petitions, building a united team of European allies and meeting separately with each branch of its complicated government structure. It was all worth it. In banning amalgam for children and for pregnant and breast-feeding women, the European Union took the giant step toward banning mercury fillings!
Last December, the three major institutions that decide policy for the European Union (EU) — the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council of the European Union — reached a provisional agreement to partially ban amalgam use. The European Parliament voted 99 percent (663 to 8) to approve the agreement. As a result, on July 1, 2018:
- Amalgam use in children under age 15 will be banned
- Amalgam use in pregnant women will be banned
- Amalgam use in breast-feeding mothers will be banned
But there's more! First, in 2019, each country in the European Union will be required to set a national plan on how it will reduce amalgam use. Second, in 2020 the European Commission must make its up-or-down recommendation on whether to phase out amalgam. Small wonder, then, that the European Parliament's press release proclaims: This new regulation "aims to phase out the use of mercury in dental amalgam."
FDA Fails America's Children
Now it's time to bring the EU's victory home to the United States, one of the only developed countries in the world that refuses to even warn parents about the risks amalgam poses to their children. That is why Consumers for Dental Choice is leading the charge to get the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to act. While the EU is taking steps to protect the children from amalgam, FDA's 2009 amalgam rule fails to protect American children.
Under the Code of Federal Regulations governing FDA, the agency must offer reasonable assurance that medical devices, like amalgam, are safe. But FDA's 2009 rule admits that there is no assurance of safety for children. In fact, FDA admits that amalgam puts children at a serious risk:
"The developing neurological systems in fetuses and young children may be more sensitive to the neurotoxic effects of mercury vapor. Very limited to no clinical data is available regarding long-term health outcomes in pregnant women and their developing fetuses, and children under the age of six, including infants who are breastfed."
Their rule was so problematic, FDA was forced to ask its advisory panel of scientific experts to review its 2009 dental amalgam rule only a year later.
At that second hearing in December 2010, again and again the panelists made their concerns about amalgam use in children known, saying "definitely not in pregnant women and definitely not in those below 6 years of age;" "why put amalgams in children if we know they're going to live with that for the rest of their lives? And we don't know what that's going to do;" "I think that there really is perhaps no place for mercury in children."
The man in charge of reconsidering FDA's abysmal amalgam rule, FDA Center for Devices and Radiological Health director Jeffrey Shuren, acknowledged that "Now, the panel did … point out that there may be certain populations who are more sensitive to dental amalgam, like young children and pregnant women." And later in response to the panel's concerns, he promised an announcement by the end of 2011.
Did FDA make such an announcement in 2011? No. Nor in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 or 2016. For FDA, the time is truly up. A couple of years ago, Shuren had the nerve to claim that "Under the EU system, the public are being used as guinea pigs … We don't use our people as guinea pigs in the U.S." But the European Union is starting to protect its children while FDA's own amalgam rule promotes using children as guinea pigs for a mercury product that FDA knows can cause harm and admits is not proven safe for children.
Rather than to smugly accuse the European Union of treating consumers like guinea pigs, perhaps it may be time for Shuren to look in the mirror. Keep the momentum going for mercury-free dentistry. I will double your donation if you give today — or any day up through August 27, 2017.
Consumers for Dental Choice Takes Action — And You Can Too!
FDA staff members complain to each other that "this topic [amalgam regulation] seems to be cursed." Consumers for Dental Choice made that discovery via repeated use of public right-to-know laws. Since the FDA — before the end of the Minamata Convention, before the European Union partial ban — already saw amalgam as a "cursed" arena, well, as the saying goes, "You ain't seen nothin' yet."
Consumers for Dental Choice has filed a citizen petition to insist that FDA catch up with Europe and ban amalgam use in children under age 15, pregnant women and breast-feeding mothers. Now FDA and Shuren need to hear from you! It's time for FDA to catch up with the European Union. Here are some ways to make your voices heard today: