Saturday, 19 April 2014

Activists look to ban mercury-based fillings

ČTK |
2 January 2013

Prague, Dec 28 (CTK) - Czech environmentalists push for a ban on the use of amalgam fillings in dentists's surgeries since they contain harmful mercury, representatives of the Arnika association told reporters Thursday, referring to a study of mercury content in dentists' hair.

They point out that mercury from the fillings can get into the body and harm people's health.

The Czech Dentists' Chamber has questioned the alleged danger saying it has not been scientifically proved.

Moreover, there is no other filling fully covered by health insurance to replace amalgam, dentists point out.

A study that Arnika carried out in cooperation with independent experts has proved a higher mercury content in dentists' hair compared to other people. Its co-author Jiri Kristian presented it to reporters Thursday.

Health Minister Leos Heger (TOP 09) was also in the tested group. Though he is not a dentist, his sample contained a higher amount of mercury than the average probably because he loves seafood.

"Czech dentists and their aides are threatened with toxic mercury about twice more than other people. One of the reasons may be their common use of amalgam for dental fillings," Kristian pointed out.

Arnika representatives will demand a complete ban on the use of mercury in stomatology and other fields in the last round of international talks in Geneva, Switzerland, on January 11, Jindrich Petrlik, from the association, said.

The use of mercury in dental care is banned in Sweden, he added.

Czech Dentists' Chamber head Pavel Chrz told CTK that no country bans the use of amalgam fillings. They are allowed in Sweden and Finland to a limited extent as well, he added.

"No one has ever invented a better material at a more reasonable price for fillings," he said.

The environmentalists had hair samples from 15 dentists and 13 people from other branches tested. The average mercury content in dentists' hair was 0,373 milligrammes per kilo of hair, while in other samples it was 0.180 milligrammes on average. Heger had 0.323 milligrammes.

The dangerous level for human health is from 10 milligrammes. A mercury source should be sought from one milligramme.

Primarily seafood is a source of mercury. People living close to incinerators, water treatment plants and crematoriums and their employees are more exposed to mercury.

Mercury can also leak from amalgam fillings to patients' body. Dentists can get it from the air as mercury is evaporating from the prepared fillings.

According to the U.N. data, mercury in dental fillings makes up to 25 percent of its total consumption in the EU. This year it will be 95 tonnes in the EU, including 3.6 tonnes in the Czech Republic.

The Czech Republic is placed fifth in the use of mercury for amalgam fillings and fourth in mercury emissions from crematoriums.

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