Group warns vs mercury in dental fillings
DAVAO CITY — An environmental group has stepped up its campaign to ban mercury devices and products in the Philippines, calling on dental institutions, clinics and suppliers to halt the distribution and use of so-called “silver filling” materials for teeth restoration, as these allegedly contain a high volume of mercury, a toxic substance.
Myline Macabuhay, of the nongovernment organization Ban Toxics, cited tests that their group conducted in at least five locations nationwide that found that the use of silver fillings resulted in contamination and mercury vapor emissions as high as 35,000 nanograms per cubic meter in working areas.
Macabuhay claimed that mercury vapor emissions from the use of dental amalgam could be “substantial” and “usually exceeds general and accepted human exposure limits.” She said that in one dental school in southern Mindanao, where Ban Toxics conducted one of its studies, some parts of the new building were safe from mercury vapors but that the old buildings had “significant mercury vapor emissions.”
Macabuhay said there was a need for immediate intervention to protect people working inside the restoration sections of these five test areas because mercury is persistent and can transform from one form to another.
The dean of the University of the Philippines’ (UP) College of Dentistry, Dr. Vicente Medina III, however, described the group’s claim as “scare tactics.”
Citing scientific literature by the United States Public Health Service and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Medina said in a letter sent to the Inquirer that there was no scientific evidence that linked dental fillings that contain mercury to any health condition.
He said the UP College of Dentistry was “strongly opposed” to proposals to ban the use of dental amalgam in the Philippines, adding that alternatives were “two times more expensive.”
The US Environmental Protection Agency has declared silver amalgams safe for use by dentists.
A report by the Scientific Committees of the European Commission also noted in 2008 that alternative materials were not without clinical limitations and toxicological hazards, the American Dental Association added.
On July 28, 2009, FDA issued its final rule on encapsulated dental amalgam and reaffirmed the agency’s position that the material is a safe and effective restorative option for patients.
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