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Congress Called on to Hold Dental Mercury Polluters Accountable at U.S. House Oversight Hearing
Date:7/8/2008

WASHINGTON, July 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- At a U.S. House Government Oversight Subcommittee Hearing today, a mercury watchdog group called on Congress to stop dental mercury pollution by phasing out amalgam, requiring dentists to install amalgam separators, and holding manufacturers of amalgam accountable for paying for the clean up technology necessary to prevent dental mercury pollution.

"Practically speaking, the age of amalgam is over," said Michael Bender, director of the Mercury Policy Project. "Recent improvements in technology for the non-mercury filling -- most commonly the 'composite' -- have rendered the mercury tooth filling obsolete. One only has to look at the recent bans on new amalgam placement in Norwegian or Swedish dental patients to document mercury-free tooth restoratives as a viable substitute."

So why do over 60 million mercury tooth fillings still get placed into Americans' mouths every year, asked Bender, along with the following additional questions.

-- Is it because it is simply cheaper and quicker for your dentists to place an amalgam and they make more money doing so?

-- Or is it because the US dental sector, led by the American Dental Association and its state associations, remains in denial that mercury is a neurotoxin -- a hazardous material before it is placed in the mouth, and a hazard that releases toxic vapors after it is in the mouth? And could concerns about potential legal liability reinforce this denial?

-- Or is it because dentists are not aware or held accountable to the fact -- undisputed by the U.S. EPA since it was presented to the US House subcommittee last fall -- that the continued use of amalgam is resulting in the release of upwards of 10 tons -- and growing -- of mercury into the air and water each year in the U.S.?

According to Bender, up until now significant hidden environmental health costs of using amalgam -- the so-called "externalities" -- have not been f
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SOURCE Mercury Policy Project
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