Mercury, the main ingredient in "silver" or amalgam fillings, will be the subject of a United Nations conference to be held in Chiba, Japan on January 24 to 28.
Members of various nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), as well as dentists and scientists from groups such as the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT), will be attending and urging a ban on products containing mercury, including dental amalgam. The deliberations serve as the second of five intergovernmental negotiating committee (INC) meetings planned with the purpose of creating worldwide mercury regulations by 2013.
These meetings are the result of an agreement made by the Governing Council of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) in 2009, when it was deemed necessary to create global standards addressing risks related to mercury, a toxic element phased out of many consumer products but still used in dental amalgam fillings.
On its Web site, UNEP cites reasons for recognizing the impact of mercury on human health: "Mercury can produce a range of adverse human health effects, including permanent damage to the nervous system, in particular the developing nervous system … Mercury can be transferred from a mother to her unborn child, [and] infants, children and women of child bearing age are considered vulnerable populations."
Among the international delegates will be IAOMT dentist Graeme Munro-Hall of England, who represents a growing number of dentists and scientists from around the globe concerned about the toxic effects of mercury in silver amalgam fillings. Dr. Munro-Hall asserts, "International pressure to rid our world of toxic mercury will hopefully convince the FDA, CDC, NIH and ADA to acknowledge the perils of placing poison into the mouths of Americans."
Attorney Charles Brown, President of the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry, based in Washington, DC, made an impact on the first INC meeting in Stockholm last year and will also speak in Chiba. In a recent message to the World Health Organization, Brown stated, "UNEP has identified amalgam as one of the five major products contributing to the global mercury problem, so action is urgently needed."
Scientific studies substantiating the hazards of mercury fillings will be discussed by various international experts and organizations. Research that links autism to fetal exposure from maternal fillings will be provided by Mark Geier, M.D., Ph.D. Data collected by Joachim Mutter, M.D., published last week in the Journal of Occupational Medicine & Toxicology, will also be presented. Dr. Mutter's findings relate mercury fillings to various neurological diseases, ranging from Alzheimer's to multiple sclerosis.
At an FDA Dental Products advisory panel meeting in December, it was recommended that the FDA consider banning and/or issuing stringent warnings for mercury filling use in children, pregnant women and an unclassified hypersensitive population. Countries such as Sweden, Norway and Denmark have already banned the use of mercury in dentistry.
In the United States, Maestro Ben Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, speaks publicly about his complete recovery from Meniere's Disease after having his 15 mercury amalgam fillings removed. The neurological disease nearly cost him his career, according to Zander.