Dr. Lillian Lasaten-Ebuen of Total Body Dentisty and Executive Director of the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) in the Philippines joins an IPEN meeting on toxic metals in Minamata this week.
During the meeting, she stated that, “IAOMT-Philippines is reaffirming its stand against mercury use, not only in the dental profession but also in other sectors and industries – from manufacturing to small-scale gold mining.”
Minamata Convention on Mercury signing this week
An international treaty on controlling and regulating the use of mercury is also up for signing this week. Known as the Minamata Convention on Mercury, in honor of the victims of mercury poisoning in Minamata, the convention clearly details steps in the phase-out and eventual elimination of mercury.
“As the Philippines is a signatory,” according to Dr. Ebuen, “The government should enact legislation that fulfils its obligation under the treaty. There are initiatives addressing mercury use in the health sector and small-scale mining,” Dr. Ebuen reports, “But we still have a long way to go with the dental sector.”
Dr. Ebuen notes that, even while European countries are actively banning dental amalgams and switching to mercury-free alternatives, dental associations and dental schools in the Philippines still endorse dental amalgams for treating patients or for filling much needed school requirements.
Often, recipients of this form of treatment come from low-income families dependent on free dental services offered by dental students and dental missions.
Dr. Ebuen asserts however that these obstacles only demonstrate the need to stress IAOMT’s promotion of equality, social justice, and the people’s right to information. “We are determined to take ongoing action to highlight the damage caused by toxic metal pollution to human health and the environment and to foster international support for further national and global governance measures to reduce, and where possible eliminate, sources of toxic metal pollution such as mercury.”
Dr. Ebuen adds, “We are calling on all dental organizations, the private, and the public sectors to swiftly commence on the phasedown of dental amalgams and to not wait for the law to order them so. This is not only for the health of the patients, the dentists, and laboratory assistants but this is to protect vulnerable populations such as women and children as well. The signing of the treaty now signifies the global agreement/consensus that dental amalgam is a pre-historic technology and one that is better left in the annals of history.”