Sec. Kerry Urged to Inform FDA to Conform with US Position & Minamata Convention to Reduce Amalgam

Sep 22, 2015, 18:45 ET from Mercury Policy Project

WASHINGTON, Sept. 22, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Sixty health, consumer and environmental groups from the US and around the world recently wrote a letter urging Secretary of State John Kerry to inform FDA to conform with US policy to reduce dental amalgam use. [i] The groups assert that a 2009 FDA rule is impeding mercury reduction and contrary to the US position taken during mercury treaty negotiations: 

"The United States supports further consideration of dental amalgam by the Intergovernmental Negotiation Committee such that the agreement is able to achieve the phase down, with the goal of eventual phase out by all Parties, of mercury amalgam upon the development and availability of affordable, viable alternatives."

This US Government position is reflected in the final text of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, as it requires Parties to "phase down the use of dental amalgam." [ii] Unaltered since that time, FDA apparently takes the opposite view when it reclassified amalgam as a Class II medical device in a 2009 rule, stating that:

"…any change away from use of dental amalgam is likely to result in negative public health outcomes…while there would be a decrease in mercury exposure, there is no evidence that there would be any reduction in adverse effects associated with mercury." [iii]

Announcing support for the Minamata Convention, the State Department website states that, "The United States has already taken significant steps to reduce the amount of mercury generated and released into the environment, and can implement Convention obligations under existing law." [iv] 

"However, unless FDA's policies toward amalgam phase down are changed, it may undermine mercury reduction efforts in the US," said Michael Bender, director of the Mercury Policy Project, who spearheaded the letter. "It also could send the wrong message to other Parties to the Convention." 

In 2013 the United States took the important step of being the first country to ratify the Minamata Convention on Mercury. The goal of controlling the anthropogenic releases of mercury throughout its lifecycle is the primary driver that shaped obligations under the Convention. 

Dental amalgam is now one of the largest consumer uses of mercury in the U.S. today. According to the latest U.S. Geological Survey report, 18-30 tons of mercury is used in dental amalgam each year accounting for between 35% and 57% of mercury use in 2010. [v] 

[i] http://mercurypolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/sec_state_kerry_ngo_letter_sept_21_2015.pdf 
[ii] http://www.mercuryconvention.org/ 
[iii]http://www.fda.gov/downloads/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/DentalProducts/DentalAmalgam/UCM174024.pdf 
[v] http://www.mercuryconvention.org/ 
[iv] http://www.state.gov/e/oes/eqt/mercury/ 
[v] http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2013/5137/ 

 

SOURCE Mercury Policy Project



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