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There is continuing controversy about the desirability of having mercury containing restorations in the mouth. Governments of other countries (Canada, Germany, Sweden, France, Norway and the United Kingdom) have placed restrictions and/or issued advisories against the use of mercury in dental fillings - particularly in children and pregnant women. Austria, Denmark and Finland also plan to stop the use of dental mercury.

Dental amalgam "silver" fillings contains roughly 50% mercury. In 1988 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classified dental amalgam a hazardous waste. The metallic mercury used by dentists to make dental amalgam for fillings is shipped as a hazardous material to the dental office. When amalgam fillings are removed, they are treated as hazardous waste and are required to be disposed of in accordance with OSHA regulations. So it seems that the only safe place for mercury (according to the American Dental Association) is in your teeth!

On April 10, 2002, in the House of Representatives, Rep. Diane Watson of California introduced a bill, H.R. 4163, "to prohibit after 2006 to use mercury in dental fillings and for other purposes."
This bill states:

"The Congress finds as follows:

(1) Mercury is a highly toxic element.

(2) A dental amalgam, commonly referred to as a 'silver filling', consists of 43 to 54 percent mercury.

(3) Consumers may be deceived by the use of the term `silver' to describe a dental amalgam, which contains substantially more mercury than silver.

(4) Dental amalgam may contain about 1/2 to 3/4 of a gram of mercury, depending on the size of the filling.

(5) The mercury in a dental amalgam continually emits mercury vapors.

(6) Mercury toxicity is a retention toxicity that builds up over years of exposure.

(7) According to certain scientific studies, Health Canada, and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry of the Public Health Service of the Department of Health and Human Services, children and pregnant women are at particular risk for exposure to mercury contained in dental amalgam.

(8) According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the mercury from amalgam goes through the placenta of pregnant women and through the breast milk of lactating women, giving rise to health risks to an unborn child or a baby.

(9) The Environmental Protection Agency considers removed amalgam filling and extracted teeth containing amalgam material to be hazardous waste.

(10) The use of mercury in any product being put into the body is opposed by many health groups, such as the American Public Health Association, the California Medical Association, and Health Care Without Harm.

(11) Consumers and parents have a right to know, in advance, the risks of placing a product containing a substantial amount of mercury in their mouths or the mouths of their children.

(12) Alternatives to mercury-based dental fillings exist, but many publicly and privately financed health plans do not allow consumers to choose alternatives to mercury amalgam."

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