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To Reduce Mercury Pollution, 'Dentists need a mandatory requirement,' According to US House Oversight Report; Mercury Group Concurs

WASHINGTON, Sept. 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A US House Government Oversight subcommittee released a 33-page report yesterday indicating that 'Dentists need a mandatory requirement' to reduce mercury emissions. The Mercury Policy Project welcomed the findings, after having testified at two congressional hearings over the past several months on dental mercury pollution and control technologies.

The Subcommittee report found that the best way to prevent mercury pollution is for dentists "to implement a mandatory program or a voluntary program underpinned by the threat of a mandatory provision."

"Dentists are, by far, the largest polluters of mercury to wastewater in the US today," said Michael Bender, director of the Mercury Policy Project. "However, it's like pulling teeth to get dentists to stop polluting the environment and poisoning people who eat fish dosed with dental mercury."

To keep mercury out of wastewater, installing amalgam separators "costs as little as $0.54 per patient," according to the US House Subcommittee report.

Testimony provided by MPP and others during the hearings revealed significant disparities between the EPA's data on dental mercury emissions and estimates by MPP and other witnesses. For example, MPP testimony showed, for the first time, that dental mercury air emissions may be more than five times higher than recent EPA estimates.

In response to concerns about environmental impacts of dental mercury, Subcommittee activities included the following:

-- Based on the testimony provided during the first Hearing last November, the Subcommittee began an investigation to determine if EPA had underestimated dental mercury emissions. During the hearing, even EPA staff expressed a lack of confidence in some of its estimates.

-- In a February 11, 2008 letter, Chairman Dennis Kucinich requested that EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson provide specific information to the Committee on EPA's dental mercury releases and the new information provided by those providing testimony, including MPP.

--To access the letter, see: ue0229085PMdoc.pdf

-- In a July 28, 2008 letter to FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach, Chairman Kucinich called on FDA to reform its rulemaking on dental mercury, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Kucinich reminded FDA of its statutory duty under NEPA to prepare an environmental impact statement or conduct an environmental assessment as part of the rulemaking process in reclassifying dental mercury, classifying encapsulated amalgam alloy and dental mercury or issuing special controls for amalgam alloy.

-- To access the letter, see:

"What the Hearings also revealed is that the American Dental Association continues to speak out of both sides of its mouth on dental mercury controls," said Bender. "On the one hand, they say they support amalgam separators, while continuing to oppose making it happen," said Bender.

For more information:

SOURCE Mercury Policy Project
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