Dental Mercury Restricted in Europe
Mercury can be toxic to humans, and concern about its use as a material in fillings has caught international attention. The European Union made the decision in July 2017 to ban the use of mercury-containing amalgams in pregnant and breastfeeding women and children under the age of 15.
The ban was first proposed at the UN Minamata Convention in 2009, although nations and interest groups have long been concerned about the impact of mercury exposure. With the enactment of the Regulation on Mercury through the Minamata Treaty, EU countries have signed on to reduce the release of mercury into the environment with a phase-out plan as part of the process. By July 2019, each member state must have a plan for how it will eliminate the material.
One representative says, “This partial ban on dental amalgams is excellent news, especially for children’s health. It will not only help protect the health of mothers and children, but also contribute to reducing everyone’s environmental exposure to mercury. We hope each member state will now take seriously its duty to reduce amalgam use for everyone.”
As one of the largest users of dental amalgam, Europe’s choice to ban mercury may signal a global trend, as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has also discussed regulation. Concern is especially high for the use of the material on young children and pregnant mothers, leading to the EU’s decision to ban the material from these vulnerable sectors of the population. Evidence points to potential health risks, especially to the nervous system, during these crucial periods of development.
Bernice Teplitsky, DDS, is the owner of Wrigleyville Dental, located at 3256 N. Ashland Ave., in Chicago. For appointments, call 773-975-6666 or visit WrigleyvilleDental.com.