Archives for January 2013

The World’s First Global Mercury Ban

More than 140 nations adopt treaty to cut mercury – www’s column on NewsvineGENEVA – A new and legally binding international treaty to reduce harmful emissions of mercury was adopted Saturday by more than 140 nations, capping four years of difficult negotiations but stopping short of some of the tougher measures that proponents had envisioned.

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After a week of intense negotiations, the world’s first global mercury ban is clear. While no dental amalgam phase out date has been set,  during the negotiations that led to the new treaty on mercury, article 6 on products in Annex C  Part  II, requires countries to take steps to phase down dental mercury globally. “This is the beginning of the end of dental amalgam globally,” said Michael T. Bender, MPP director. “We applaud the leadership role the US played in jump-starting support for a phase down in 2011 along with the concrete steps in Nordic countries, Switzerland and Japan in phasing out amalgam.”

 

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UN treaty on mercury expected to phase down amalgam globally

Summary of The Fifth Session of The Iintergovernmental Negotiating Committee to Prepare A Global Legally Binding Iinstrument on Mercury: 13-19 January 2013. Earth Negotiations Bulletin 2013; 28, No. 22: 1-25.

 

UN treaty on mercury expected to phase down amalgam globally

Draws praise from consumer, dental and environmental groups:

Dental AmalgamsWhile no dental amalgam phase out date has been set, UN mercury treaty talks are expected to result in the phase down of dental mercury globally, says representatives of consumer and environmental groups attending the negotiations.  Amalgam phase down text incorporated in Annex C of Article 6 on products is expected to shortly be transmitted to the Intergovernmental Negotiation Committee plenary for its approval. [1]

“This is the beginning of the end of dental amalgam globally,” said Michael T. Bender, director of the Mercury Policy Project, a US-based NGO, who is attending the mercury treaty talks. “We applaud the leadership role the US played in jump-starting support for a phase down in 2011 along with the concrete steps of the Nordic countries, Switzerland and Japan in phasing out amalgam.”

“Countries that have phased out amalgam recognize that mercury-free dental fillings are readily available, affordable and effective,” said Charles G. Brown, Esq., World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry, a global coalition of NGOs, dentists and consumers from over 25 countries. “This pushes the reset button on dentistry. Now the rest of the world can benefit from the experience of those countries.”

The draft treat text outlines a variety measures countries can take to phase down amalgam, but shall include at least two of the several listed. These include setting national objectives minimizing dental amalgam use; promoting mercury-free alternatives for dental restoration; and discouraging insurance policies and programs that favor dental amalgam over mercuryfree alternative dental restorations.

Other measures are targeted at reducing global dental mercury pollution and involve restricting amalgam use to its encapsulated form and promoting best environmental practices in dental facilities. It also encourages dental schools to train dentists on using mercury-free alternatives and best management practice.

Many countries have already been considering similar measures, due to the significant use and release of dental mercury pollution globally. A 2012 report for the European Commission (EC) recommended phasing out amalgam in five years. [2]

The EC BIOS report also noted that mercury-free fillings appear more expensive than amalgam because of the negative external costs. Amalgam’s negative environmental effects are known and ultimately, society pays for the uncontrolled release of dental mercury, as explained in our 2012 report. [3]

According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the use of mercury in tooth fillings represents some 10% of global mercury consumption, thus being among the largest consumer uses of mercury in the world. UNEP estimates global use of dental mercury at between 300 – 400 metric tonnes per year. [4]

 

Endnotes:
[1] The Negotiating Process
[2] European Commission report by BIOS
[3] Real Cost of Dental Mercury Pollution, by Concorde
[4] MAP/UNEP 2008.  Source: Mercury Policy Project

 

Chemical Brain Drain (Lecture)

Brain development can be damaged by mercury and other environmental chemicals.

This is a lecture by Professor Philippe Grandjean who works at the University of Southern Denmark and Harvard School of Public Health in the United States. He tells in the presentation that there are 201 environmental chemicals currently identified as harmful for the brain. These toxic substances can cause the so-called brain drain, which means that the population’s skills decrease with more mental health problems and fewer highly intelligent people.

Grandjean also shows the magnetic resonance scanning of the brain when children make different finger movements. In children with high mercury levels are both right and left brain active instead of just one in children with low mercury load. This shows that the nerve impulses in mercury affected brains are not functioning optimally.