Minamata Convention Debates and Rejects Dental Amalgam Ban

Dentistry Today

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A proposal to ban dental amalgam was debated and rejected during last week’s Minamata Convention on Mercury third Conference of the Parties (COP3) in Geneva, Switzerland, last week.

Annex A, Part II of the Convention’s agreement subjects mercury-added material to a phase-down in use in participating countries. Botswana, Chad, Gabon, Guinea Bissau, Niger, and Senegal proposed an amendment to Annex A to phase out or ban dental amalgam.

The proposal specifically sought to end amalgam use in deciduous teeth, children under the age of 15, pregnant women, and breastfeeding women by 2021 and end all dental amalgam use except where no mercury-free alternatives are available by 2024.

Many countries opposed the proposal, arguing that information on dental amalgam use and the feasibility of alternatives is needed before deciding on a phase-out approach. The FDI World Dental Federation and the International Association for Dental Research argued against the proposal and called for the continued phase-down of dental amalgam to safeguard public health.

The World Health Organization (WHO) also echoed concerns about the proposal, noting that phasing out dental amalgam isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer for all nations. Also, WHO said, substantial preliminary work would be needed at national and global levels before moving toward the proposal’s goals.

After lengthy discussion, COP3 delegates rejected the proposal and agreed to maintain the convention’s nine phase-down measures in Annex A, Part II. To accelerate the phase-down of dental amalgam, the convention agreed to:

  • Encourage parties to take more than the two required measures in accordance with Annex A, Part II, to phase down the use of dental amalgam
  • Ask the Secretariat to request information from parties on the implementation of any such additional measures taken by parties related to Annex A, Part II
  • Call on the Secretariat to request information from parties and others on information pursuant to paragraph 7 of Article 4 by July 1, 2020
  • Ask the Secretariat to compile the information received pursuant to paragraph 3, clearly identifying the sources of the information it includes, and provide that information to parties no later than December 1, 2020
  • Request the Secretariat prepare by April 30, 2021, an information document for the fourth conference of the parties that includes the information received from the parties pursuant to paragraph 2 and the compilation of information from paragraph 4, respectively

In light of this decision, dental amalgam will be on the agenda of the fourth COP meeting, which will be held in Bali, Indonesia, from October 31 to November 5, 2021.

As of November 2019, there are 128 signatories to the Minamata Convention and 115 ratifications.

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