A new convention finalised under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has confirmed a role in dental care for dental amalgam containing mercury. A member of the Australian Dental Industry Association (ADIA) dental regulation committee, Ms Pam Clark, was a participant in the negotiations that concluded on 19 January 2013 in Geneva, Switzerland. These negotiations settled upon a phased-down approach to the use of dental amalgam over many years, an outcome supported by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and professional organisations representing dentists.
“There was widespread acceptance that dental amalgam is a major source of mercury pollution, particularly in waterways. In this context, the dental industry is supportive of moves towards alternative restorative materials,” said Troy Williams, ADIA Chief Executive Officer.
Beyond phasing down the use of dental amalgam, the treaty also specifies a best practice approach to minimising the release of waste dental amalgam, currently typified by the use of amalgam separators in dental practices that permit the capture, separation and eventual recycling of mercury.
“ADIA acknowledges that dental amalgam waste generated by dental practices represents a real source of mercury pollution in the environment. Accordingly, ADIA supports the rapid installation of equipment that separates dental amalgam from wastewater produced by dental practices,” Mr Williams said.
The new treaty will be referenced as “The Minamata Convention on Mercury” which refers to a city in Japan where serious health issues arouse a result of mercury pollution in the mid-twentieth century.
Currently the Australian Dental Association (ADA) and the World Dental Federation (FDI) have both issued definitive statements, backed by research, that dental amalgam is a relatively safe and highly effective restorative material.
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