Mercury debate shifts to environmental impacts

04/3/2013 | Chicago Tribune (tiered subscription model)

Advocates are taking a new approach in efforts to ban mercury from silver fillings or dental amalgam. Instead of emphasizing health concerns, the group is focusing on the environmental effect of mercury. The FDA and the American Dental Association have said that silver fillings are an important option in dentistry, but more than 140 countries have signed a treaty to reduce the use of mercury in dental fillings, and at least one dental school is de-emphasizing instruction on placement of the materials. About 3.7 tons of mercury from dental amalgam waste enters wastewater treatment facilities each year, according to Environmental Protection Agency data.

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