The Australian Dental Industry Association (ADIA) has recommended that the Australian government ratify the Minamata Convention on Mercury, an international treaty that established a number of provisions on the phasing down of dental amalgam. The association believes that the implementation of such provisions will allow ongoing manufacture and use of dental amalgam within a framework that will reduce overall environmental emission of mercury.
The Minamata Convention on Mercury is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury, and was finalised in January last year. To date, 100 countries have signed the treaty, and agreed on developing and implementing national strategies to reduce or eliminate the production and industrial use of mercury. However, only the US has formally ratified the treaty so far.
As dental amalgam contains about 50 per cent mercury, it is considered a significant source of mercury released into the environmental, according to ADIA. In response to the Australian government’s invitation to provide recommendations, ADIA has advised the government to ratify the convention, as it will allow continued manufacture and supply of amalgam in an environmentally sound manner. In particular, the association urged the government to promote the adoption of technologies that separate dental amalgam particles from wastewater at dental treatment centres, preventing amalgam waste from entering the sewage system.
Based on data provided by ADIA, alternatives to dental amalgam, such as resin composites, currently constitute about three-quarters of dental restorations. Nevertheless, dental professionals advise that dental amalgam is clinically superior in some cases. Therefore, ratification of the convention should not adversely affect the availability of mercury required for the manufacture of dental amalgam, the association stated.