Dr. James Hardy DMD.
I want to thank the FDA for hosting this town meeting and listening to all different points of view on different issues.
I’m here as a mercury-free dentist and I learned about the mercury issue as a freshman in dental school in 1978. When I heard the fillings
were 45 to 70 percent mercury, I raised my hand. I said, “What about the Minimata Bay disaster in Japan where there were a huge number of birth defects,
stillborns and other things happening in Minimata Bay and it turned out it was mercury causing the problem, and what about the FDA taking tuna fish off
the shelves when it is one part per million or more and we are putting in fillings that are chewed on for 20 or 30 years at 700,000 parts per million, how
is that safe?” My professor said “Well, it’s all tied up.” I said, “Well, if it’s all tied up, why did they break down?”
They break down because the mercury comes out and it has been shown time and time again that mercury comes out of the fillings 24 hours a day,
sometimes at a greater rate, sometimes at a lesser rate. Every 10 degrees rise in temperature doubles the amount of mercury vapor that comes off the
Now, there is no need to use mercury fillings anymore. They were brought over here from Europe in 1833 before the Civil War. They are very old technology. They are not as good as the new
composites. I’ve been a dentist for nearly 30 years. I have never placed a mercury filling and I have not found a need to have a mercury filling in any restoration, that I couldn’t use something else,
that is safer, that doesn’t contain a heavy metal. So, there is really no need to use mercury. Now, there is a cradle to the grave problem with mercury fillings and that is when you first buy
the mercury filling, you buy it in capsules. Those capsules can break, or after you shake them up and open them, that stuff can fall on the floor and it will contaminate the office. So, there is a real
estate problem here.
Dental practices that have been in offices for awhile have most — most of them anyway, probably, and if not all of them, have had a mercury spill somewhere so there is mercury inside the office. If
someone came in during the sale of that piece of real estate and had a mercury vapor analyzer, like a Jerome mercury vapor analyzer, and analyzed the air in that office they would say, “Well, this real
estate really shouldn’t be sold. It should be plowed under because of the contamination in the air.”
There is another problem that the piece of mercury that the piece of mercury that is not put into the patient’s tooth has to be treated as a hazardous waste from cradle to grave; in other words, from the dental office to the recycler, you have to have paper work that shows that it was disposed of properly. After an amalgam is taken out of a patient’s tooth, it also is a hazardous substance; but, somehow inside the tooth it is not. I don’t quite understand that and any reasonable person should not be able to understand that.
Now, mercury fillings have caused other problems too, and I want to read you a quick story. It was late August in 1989. The place was Michigan. Four people, two men and two women, who lived in the same home lay dead. Less than a month earlier, they were hospitalized after complaining of chest pain, diarrhea, nausea and shortness of breath. Their breathing became more labored and
difficult. Four days into their hospital stay, it was learned that one of the men had been collecting mercury fillings. He had been heating them up in the basement so he could extract the small amount of
silver from the fillings to sell. Substantial respiratory support along with aggressive medical procedures to remove mercury from their bodies was initiated to no avail. All four died of mercury poisoning. Their house was extensively cleaned in the hopes of removing mercury; but, the cleaning failed and the contaminated house was declared unfit for habitation. It had to be torn down. We can only hope that the mercury laden rubble was disposed of as hazardous waste.
This is the same filling that may be in your mouth right now.
When a substance can create problems from cradle to grave and there are plenty of good substitutes to replace it, it makes absolutely no sense to continue using it. So, I’m here to support
ban on mercury used in dentistry. It is really the only, the only branch of medicine that uses something as dangerous as an implant inside the human body.