In preparation for this week’s discussions organised by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) to progress a globally binding treaty on the use of mercury, the Australian Dental Industry Association (ADIA) has published a paper that reviews dental amalgam use, separation and recycling in Australia.
There is already a local history of a closed-loop approach to the use of amalgam with the success of Victoria’s Dentists for Cleaner Water Program, and many leading lights in the profession supporting the use of amalgam separators as best practice.
The ADIA’s paper backs the Australian Government’s concerns with proposals to implement and immediate or short-term restriction on the use of dental amalgam.
“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 waste from wastewater produced by dental practices,” said Troy Williams, ADIA Chief Executive Officer.
According to ADIA, dental amalgam should be permitted for use only in jurisdictions which mandate the installation of amalgam separators in dental practices, thus facilitating recycling of the mercury.
“The demonstrated ability to collect this waste from dental practices and recycle the mercury in an environmentally sustainable fashion highlights that it is possible to permit the continued use of dental amalgam without increasing mercury pollution,” Mr Williams said.
ADIA supports a closed-loop approach to the continued use of amalgam insofar as its supply should be subject to appropriate controls and where dental practices install amalgam separators that permit the subsequent recycling of the mercury.
“It is this closed-loop approach that ADIA has encouraged the Australian Government to progress as it participates in negotiations through the UNEP to develop a global legally binding instrument on mercury,” Mr Williams said.
In noting concerns expressed in some quarters about possible adverse patient outcomes associated with the use of dental amalgam, ADIA notes that it relies upon the expertise and guidance of the relevant professional bodies representing the dental profession. In this respect, ADIA accepts the views of the Australian Dental Association (ADA) and the World Dental Federation (FDI) which have both issued definitive statements, backed by research, that dental amalgam is a relatively safe and highly effective restorative material.
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