It seems that the tide is turning against metal amalgam fillings around the world. Can changes in the US be far behind? (Yes, but let’s hope not!) In the latest major victory against these potentially toxic fillings, the European Parliament has enacted a partial ban on metal amalgam. This is partly in compliance with the principles of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, which seeks to reduce the use of mercury worldwide. It envisions the end of mercury-based fillings and replacement with tooth-colored fillings.
What Does the Partial Ban Cover?
In mid-March, the EU Parliament followed up on the agreement in principle it had made in December 2016, establishing a partial ban of metal amalgam fillings. This ban is intended to protect the most vulnerable from the potentially toxic effects of metal amalgam. The ban says that metal amalgam should not be used in:
- Children age 15 and under
- Pregnant women
- Nursing mothers
With this ban, the EU will be significantly reducing the number of mercury fillings used on the continent, but it’s just the first step.
The European Commission, which develops the legislation that is ultimately voted on by the European Parliament, has until 2020 to come up with a plan to completely phase out metal amalgam fillings by 2030. If practicable.
Although noteworthy, the European Parliament’s actions are actually trailing those of many of the EU’s member states. Sweden has recently phased out metal amalgam use altogether. And several other member states have restrictions on their use similar to what the Parliament just agreed to. This includes Finland, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Spain, and Italy. With this kind of leadership and the growing wariness of dentists in other countries such as France about the fillings, it seems likely that Europe will meet its complete phaseout by 2030.
What about the US?
With this dramatic move on metal amalgam fillings in Europe, can we expect any movement in the US?
Possibly, but we shouldn’t expect it to be as fast or comprehensive as it has been for Europe. The US is also a signatory of the Minamata Convention. Signatories of the Convention pledge to reduce their use of mercury for all purposes, including the use in metal amalgam fillings. The convention is named after the town of Minamata, where many residents experienced high levels of mercury exposure, resulting in numbness, loss of senses, involuntary muscle movements, paralysis, insanity, and death.
We know that there’s really no safe level of mercury in the body. We also know that mercury in fillings doesn’t stay put. And having a high number of fillings can increase your blood mercury levels by 150%! It could even increase levels of highly toxic methylmercury. In the past, the safety of amalgam was justified partly because it contained only elemental mercury, which is less harmful, but the increase in methylmercury is alarming.
Hopefully health officials hear this alarm and respond accordingly.
But if you’re looking for a dentist in New Jersey today who doesn’t use metal amalgam fillings and who can remove your old metal amalgam, please call 201-343-4044 today for an appointment at the River Edge Dental Center for General & Cosmetic Dentistry.