Presented with the key findings of the Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER), the EU scientific community finally acknowledged that the continued use of dental amalgam fillings and its resulting wastes could cause second-hand mercury poisoning when tainted fish is consumed.
“While we are pleased with the announcement, we can’t help but wonder why it took this long.,” states Dr Lillian Lasaten-Ebuen of The International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) in the Philippines. “We have been talking about the dangers posed by dental amalgam fillings for years and this acknowledgement by the European scientific community validates our statement.”
Often regarded by supporters as harmless and safe, European scientists found that dental amalgam fillings can methylate and turn into methylmercury – mercury’s most toxic form – and can contaminate fish. Mercury does not dissolve or breakdown, but instead it accumulates and increases at every level. Once consumed by humans, mercury content in large predatory fish such as tuna, mackerel, and swordfish have exceeded acceptable and safe levels, leading to second-hand mercury poisoning.
With long-term exposure or consumption, mercury can wreak havoc on the body’s systems primarily targeting the brain and nervous system. Children and pregnant or women of child-bearing age are more vulnerable to mercury poisoning as the neurotoxin can accumulate in vital organs and can easily break the blood-brain barrier.
Recently, IAOMT-Philippines collaborated with social and environmental justice group BAN Toxics! and measured the levels of mercury emissions in locations where dental amalgam fillings are used or stockpiled. The tests yielded high results that confirmed Dr Ebuen’s suspicions all along.
“The astonishingly high mercury levels would require an evacuation by the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) but sadly, even some in the dental health profession remain resolute.” Dr Ebuen shares. However, IAOMT-Philippines is working with the Department of Health (DOH) and other concerned groups in pushing for a mercury-free approach to dentistry.
Through a series of training-lectures, dental outreach programmes, and information dissemination, IAOMT-Philippines is reaching out to vulnerable sectors such as dentists, women, and youth. Together with the removal and phasing out of mercury-containing products and devices in all (dental) healthcare facilities including dental institutions, IAOMT-Philippines is pushing for dental amalgam ban and a revision in the dentistry curriculum that endorses the use of the material.
“Our research and the EU’s stand are a wake-up call to the government and the dental health sector in the country. We all should take heed and impose a ban on the use of dental amalgam fillings and implement effective measures in handling dental mercury wastes.”
For more info on dental amalgam fillings, visit iaomt-philippines.