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Exposure to Mercury From Dental Fillings

  • Published: 2010-11-24 : Author: International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology
  • Synopsis: Dental fillings referred to by dentists as amalgam or silver are actually 50% mercury.

Main Document

Exposure to Mercury From Dental Fillings Exceeds Safe Levels

A new risk assessment report submitted by the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology this month to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that mercury from dental fillings is estimated to cause 67.2 million Americans to exceed the Reference Exposure Level (REL) of 0.3 ug/m3 established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) in 1995. If the more protective REL of 0.03 ug/m3 established in 2008 by the California Environmental Protection Agency is used, then the current safe-dose is probably exceeded by 122.3 million Americans.

Dental fillings referred to by dentists as "amalgam" or "silver" are actually 50% mercury. A 2006 Zogby poll indicated that 76% of Americans were not aware that silver fillings are half mercury.

Contrary to FDA's 2009 ruling that exposure from mercury fillings presents no health risks, the latest assessment, by lead author G. Mark Richardson, Ph.D., of SNC-Lavalin, concludes that the mercury vapor continually emitted from these fillings is absorbed and distributed into every tissue and organ in the body including the brain. Chronic (long-term) exposure to elemental mercury can cause kidney damage, crosses the blood brain barrier and is neurotoxic.

Prompted by four petitions challenging its 2009 no-risk classification, FDA scheduled public hearings December 14-15 to review the science related to the health risks of mercury fillings, particularly for pregnant women, children and other sensitive populations. The report states "Numerous studies have demonstrated that Hg levels in blood are increased in persons, including pregnant women, with amalgam." Dr. Richardson's report explores how the release of mercury vapor from fillings in a mother's mouth can cause harm to the fetus via cord blood and infant children via breast milk.

Adding to the significance of the SNC report, a review of more than 100 studies published November, 2010 in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease confirmed that mercury is likely a contributing cause of Alzheimer's, a disease at epidemic proportions affecting an estimated 5.3 million Americans.

The Report concludes " is essential that precaution be applied in the determination of updated and revised reference exposure levels for the protection of public health." The use of mercury in dentistry has already been banned in Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

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