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

Nov 02, 2001, 00:00 ET from Consumers for Dental Choice

    WHO:       Congresswoman Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles), community
                leaders, anti-Mercury consumer and environmental activists
     WHAT:      Press conference to announce Rep. Watson's bill to end the
                use of the dangerous toxin Mercury in dental fillings by 2007
     WHERE:     DWP Building, 4030 Crenshaw (at MLK Blvd.)
     WHEN:      Monday, November 5 at 1:30 p.m.
     WHY:       So-called "silver" fillings are composed mainly of Mercury,
                a highly toxic material.  Mercury is being removed from
                ALL other health care uses.  Scientists agree that poisonous
                Mercury vapors constantly emit from fillings and can collect in
                the brain and other organs.
     Congresswoman Watson has a long record of working for disclosure of the
 risks of Mercury-based dental fillings.  While a California State Senator in
 1992, Rep. Watson authored a first-of-its-kind law that requires the state
 Dental Board to issue a "Fact Sheet" on the risks of Mercury.  Similar laws
 have since been adopted in Arizona and Maine.
     In California over the past six months, the issue of Mercury-based dental
 fillings has become a subject of major controversy (see coverage at
 Consumers for Dental Choice's web site,  In June,
 consumer groups filed suit against the American and California Dental
 Associations for deceptively referring to mercury-based fillings as "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 of the dangers of
 Mercury fillings.  Governor Davis signed the bill into law last month
 (along with a bill outlawing Mercury thermometers), saying "Mercury is a
 persistent and toxic pollutant that bioaccumulates in the environment ..."
     "It is no longer a question of if, but when, Mercury dental fillings will
 be history," said Congresswoman Watson.  "Mercury has been -- or is being --
 removed from all other health care uses, including in thermometers, vaccines
 and disinfectants.  It is politically and medically illogical to be removing
 Mercury from all other medical uses and at the same time continuing to place
 it in peoples' mouths."
     Mercury poses a particular risk to children and pregnant women, as well as
 other subpopulations (e.g. people with kidney disease or who wear braces).  A
 1999 government report (by the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry
 of the United States Public Health Service) says that the Mercury vapors from
 fillings go to the brain, which puts a child's developing brain at the most
 risk.  The report further states that the Mercury goes through the placenta
 into the developing embryo and that it goes through the mother's breast milk
 into the baby.
     While the American Dental Association still supports using Mercury
 fillings (and in fact receives a fee from Mercury amalgam manufacturers for
 endorsing their product), there is increasing opposition to the continued use
 of Mercury among dentists and other dental professionals.  For example,
 smaller groups such as the Carmel-based American Academy of Biological
 Dentistry and the Orlando-based International Academy of Oral Medicine &
 Toxicology support an end to Mercury amalgam.
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SOURCE Consumers for Dental Choice