Rep. Diane Watson Introduces Bill to End Use of Mercury in Dental Fillings

Nov 05, 2001, 00:00 ET from Consumers for Dental Choice

    LOS ANGELES, Nov. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Congresswoman Diane Watson (D-Los
 Angeles) announced today that she is introducing a bill that will warn
 consumers about the risks of Mercury in dental fillings and phase out the use
 of Mercury in dentistry over five years.
     The bill is the first legislation on the federal level to address the
 issue of Mercury in dental fillings.  So-called "silver" fillings are composed
 mainly of Mercury, a highly toxic material.  California and several other
 states have recently enacted laws that address the health risks of Mercury.
     "Today, I am announcing legislation to disclose and phase-out the last
 major use of Mercury in the human body," said Congresswoman Watson.  "The
 fillings that most of us know as 'silver' are mainly composed of Mercury, not
 silver.  Mercury is an acute neuro-toxin.  It is the most toxic
 non-radioactive element and the most volatile heavy metal.  It's time to
 remove Mercury from the practice of dentistry."
     "It is no longer a question of if, but when, Mercury dental fillings will
 be history," said Charles G. Brown, the former West Virginia state Attorney
 General and lead attorney for Consumers for Dental Choice in the national
 fight to end the use of Mercury in dentistry.  "Mercury has been -- or is
 being -- removed from all other health care uses, including in thermometers,
 vaccines and disinfectants.  It is politically and medically untenable to be
 removing Mercury from all other medical uses and at the same time continuing
 to place it in peoples' mouths."
     "I know from first hand experience the effect that Mercury fillings can
 have on one's health," said Anita Vazquez-Tibau, a Consumers for Dental Choice
 activist.  The medical risks -- particularly to pregnant women and children --
 are great, and we must stop the use of Mercury in the dental profession as
 soon as possible."
     In California over the past six months, the issue of Mercury-based dental
 fillings has become a subject of major controversy (see coverage at /).  In June, consumer groups filed suit against the
 American and California Dental Associations for deceptively calling
 mercury-based fillings "silver" and for secretly accepting payments from
 Mercury amalgam manufacturers while endorsing their product as safe.
     In September the California Legislature voted to abolish the Dental Board
 and replace it with an entirely new Board, largely because of its refusal for
 nearly ten years to adopt a Fact Sheet that properly warned consumers of the
 dangers of Mercury fillings.  Governor Davis signed the bill into law earlier
 this month (along with a bill outlawing Mercury thermometers), saying "Mercury
 is a persistent and toxic pollutant that bioaccumulates in the environment."
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SOURCE Consumers for Dental Choice