Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Congressional Hearing Targets Dentists as Major Source of Mercury Pollution

/PRNewswire/ -- Testimony today by a mercury watchdog group charges that the American Dental Association has provided misleading information that dentists are voluntarily controlling their mercury pollution and that the toxic metal doesn't get taken up in fish that people eat. The Mercury Policy Project will provide evidence to the contrary during a 2 PM hearing today of the U.S. House Government Oversight Domestic Policy Subcommittee in Rayburn House Office Building 2154.

"Dental mercury ends up in the fish we eat, although ADA denies it," said Michael Bender, director of the Mercury Policy Project (MPP). "Dentists are the largest polluter of mercury to wastewater. Yet ADA ignores the latest science from the U.S. Navy[1] and others, and pretends that dental mercury doesn't end up in fish."

Bender says the following statement on ADA's website is "misinformation":

"Dental amalgam has little effect on the environment...Even this amount is not in the form found in fish, which is the greatest concern."[2]

Yet EPA states on its website that dental mercury pollution does contaminate fish:

"When amalgam enters the water, microorganisms can change it into methylmercury, a highly toxic form that builds up in fish."[3]

MPP also charges that ADA has intentionally misled EPA into believing that voluntary pollution prevention initiatives were sufficient to reduce dental mercury pollution. This was reflected in the voluntary agreement[4] that EPA signed with ADA in 2008.

Evidence of the failure of voluntary programs was extensively documented by a 2008 Domestic Policy Subcommittee report, following hearings.[5] Since then, the Quicksilver Caucus, a coalition of state government officials, has found that amalgam separator installation rates are low unless there is a mandatory component.[6]

Again, according to ADA's website, ADA convinced EPA:

"...that a national pretreatment standard for dental offices was not necessary because dentistry was already acting voluntarily to address environmental impacts from dental amalgam. The ADA pointed out support of its position that the use of amalgam separators is part of the ADA's Best Management Practices (BMP). The EPA agreed and concluded that a national standard was not warranted at that time. Following this, EPA proposed an agreement among EPA, ADA and National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) to further promote voluntary compliance with ADA's BMPs, including the use of amalgam separators."[7]

ADA messaging is contradictory when it comes to promoting pollution prevention, Bender said.

"The need for dentists to install amalgam separators was well-established years ago," Bender said. "Yet, working with its state chapters, ADA has blocked any further mandates for separators since 2008, pretending that voluntary programs work."


[1]-Stone,ME et al, "Determination of methylmercury in dental-unit wastewater," Dent Mater. 2003 Nov;19(7):675-9;



[6]-Letter from Mark McDermid, Quicksilver Caucus, Lead ECOS Representative to the EPA Water Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2008-0517, March 31, 2010.

[7]-See: s_flyer.pdf

Fayette Front Page
Georgia Front Page
Follow us on Twitter:  @GAFrontPage

No comments: