Maine Legislature Fails to protect Pregnant Women and Children from Mercury, Kills Amalgam Bill in Committee

maine-sealIn 2003, I was on the committee that required all dentists to install mercury separators in their dental offices to trap the excess elemental mercury or scrap mercury that is not placed in the mouth. The reason these separators are required and are now law is the severe environmental damage elemental mercury causes to our air, land and water.

After realizing that excess mercury was going down the drain and into the water system and that this was harmful to the environment, a first-in-the-nation law was passed and supported by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. At first the dentists did not want this bill because it proved mercury fillings to be harmful, at least to the environment. Because of this law, in 2008 the Maine Dental Association persuaded the Legislature to exempt mercury fillings from the Kidsc-Safe Products Act, which was a real cop-out for all involved in that legislation.

Despite testifying before the Legislature again in 2005 and 2007, I was unsuccessful in getting legislation passed. One small victory was that the DEP was directed to measure how much mercury was used in dental offices.
From the time I started testifying in 1999 to today, Maine dentists have placed more than 2,400 pounds of elemental mercury in the mouths of Mainers, with the most going into our children and woman of childbearing age. Now that we have this information, the DEP has a formula to calculate the loading of how much of this mercury is ending up in our environment through wastewater, crematoriums and dental offices.

The Legislature needs to direct the DEP to do this study to prove that even though we are trapping the excess mercury in the separators, a large percentage is still making its way back to the environment. Maine residents have a right to know the amount of mercury that makes its way to our lakes, rivers and air, and how it is affecting our health and well-being.

There are no longer any excuses for using mercury because of various safe materials of the modern dental era. My husband has practiced dentistry in Maine since 1988 and has never once used a mercury filling for any reason. The only exposure he has is when old mercury fillings break or a patient asks to have an old filling replaced.

To quote the new governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, “When you do something bold you get detractors.” The principal detractors to the end of mercury fillings always have been, and have been only, the American Dental Association and all the agencies they have lobbied in their attempt to make sure that this can never happen. True science always has shown evidence of great harm to health and the environment when mercury is placed inside the body.

Great lengths have been taken to prevent mercury from outside the body entering the body. Button cell batteries, auto switches, fever thermometers and the new CFL light bulbs have been restricted. We have to take extreme measures for less than 5mg of the same elemental mercury in a CFL bulb if one gets broken. But what are you going to do about the 82 mg in an average mercury filling that has been placed in a child or women of childbearing age?

It’s time to overthrow this hostile regime that has for more than 170 years defended the use of a poisonous substance that has been linked to various health and environmental problems. It’s also time to end the ADA’s directing state dental boards to silence any dentist who would question their authority.

Even though the federal government has called for a mercury amalgam phaseout, we cannot afford to wait for this action to be completed. We must take immediate action to stop this act of putting poison in the mouths of our most vulnerable population.

Pamela J. Anderson works in her husband’s dental office in Houlton.

COMING UP: A LIST OF THE REPRESENTATIVES WHO VOTED AGAINST THE BILL.


 

April 5, 2011 
Testimony by Pamela J. Anderson
In favor of LD146 To the Joint Standing Committee on Health and Human Services

The Honorable Senator Earl L. McCormick Chairman
The Honorable Representative Meredith N. Strang Chairwoman
Fellow Members of the Committee on Health and Human Services

I would like to sincerely thank my Representative Joyce Fitzpatrick for allowing this important issue to be revisited again in the halls of Augusta. It is amazing that it has been over 12 years since I first came to Augusta in 1999, and asked the Legislators to consider supporting an informed consent law on this issue. At that time LD 640 was not very well received by the Legislators, the Department of Health or the DEP and violently opposed by the ADA and Maine Dental Assn. and the bill was killed in committee. My Representative Mike Michaud told me not to give up, and in 2001then Senate President Michaud and I brought forth LD 1409 “An Act to Address the Health Effects of Mercury Fillings” Initially this was opposed by the Health Dept., the DEP and the Maine Dental Assn., but after great testimony by world renowned scientists, dentists and many Maine citizens we were finally able to produce an informational brochure that is required to be provided in all dental offices that use mercury. Governor Angus King signed it into law in June 2001and this brochure is the best and first in the nation for accurate information on filling materials, and many other states have used it as model for their legislation. I still have questions on the compliance of this law, and how it is enforced. I have my doubts that some Maine dentists take this law seriously, due to a comment by a Maine dentist at a recent seminar at Tufts University, the dental school my husband graduated from in 1978. I was fortunate join my husband for lunch on a break from the seminar and he was sitting with a fellow Maine dentist, we got on the subject of mercury in dentistry, and I asked him about the law requiring the brochure and poster in his office. He arrogantly told me that he thought that law was a joke and that he was not providing the information, and that no one could tell him how to run his practice! I was stunned and I did not mention to him that my husband and I were the ones that played a major role in that law’s passage. We have also been told by people in our town that some of our local dentists are not in compliance with that law, and that mercury amalgam had been placed in their teeth unknowingly. That is why we need this legislation we have to demand that no more mercury, the same elemental mercury that is banned in fever thermometers, is ever place in a child or women of childbearing age in Maine. 

In 2003 I was on the committee that required all dentists to install mercury separators in their dental offices to trap the excess elemental mercury or scrap mercury that is not placed in the mouth. The reason these separators are required and are now law is because of the severe environmental damage elemental mercury causes to our air, land and water. After realizing that excess mercury was going down the drain and into the water system and that this was harmful to the environment, the law was passed and supported by the DEP. At first the dentists did not want this bill because it proved mercury fillings to be harmful, at least to the environment. After passage the MDA took credit for this, and it was because of this law that mercury fillings were not added to the Children’s Toxic Materials bill. It was explained to me, that because the dentists were using the separators, that exempted mercury fillings from being included in the bill! I felt this was a real cop out by all involved in that legislation.
I came again to Legislature on April 5th, 2005 in favor LD 1327 and 1338 “An Act to Limit Human Exposure to Mercury”. And in 2007 I spearheaded LD 637 ‘An Act to Limit Mercury Exposure. Once again no help from The Maine CDC the DEP or the Dental Assn. Despite excellent testimony by mercury free dentists, scientists and Maine citizens, the bills did not pass committee. One small victory from LD 637 was that the DEP was directed to calculate the number in pounds per year of elemental mercury the dentists were using in Maine. These numbers were very alarming because they were averaging around 200.lbs per year from 2006-2008. So if you take that into consideration from the time I started testifying in 1999 to today, Maine Dentists have placed over 2,400 pounds of elemental mercury in the mouths of Maine citizens, with the most going into our children and women of childbearing age. Now that we have this information the DEP has a formula to calculate the loading of how much of this mercury is ending up in our environment through wastewater, crematorium, and dental offices. The legislature needs to direct the DEP to do this study to prove that even though we are trapping the excess mercury in the separators a large percent is still making its way back to the environment. Maine citizens have a right to know the amount of mercury that makes its way to our lakes, rivers and air, and how it is affecting our health and well being. 

I have learned by experience to speak the truth and not get angry, and I have tried to do this for the past 12 years, and on this issue not to get angry is a real test. In this era of political change I have come before you today asking you put aside politics and do what’s right for the children and young mothers of this state. I ask you not to listen to the false statements of a non profit political labor union, one that in this era should be broken for its lies and the harm that has been caused to so many that have received mercury fillings, knowingly and unknowingly. This is a group that came into being because of mercury fillings, and they have held hostage many a dentist that dare to speak out against mercury fillings for health reasons. This group is more about politics and less about the true science of dentistry. This group has to be told to stop implanting elemental mercury in the mouths of children, because they will never stop on their own. The material has been too easy and cheap for them to consider not using. There are no longer and excuses for using mercury because of various safe materials of the modern dental era. My husband has practiced dentistry in Maine since 1988 and has never once used a mercury filling for any reason. The only exposure he has is when old mercury fillings break or a patient asks to have an old filling replaced. For all the good the ADA has done in other areas in dentistry, this is the one area that like the “Berlin Wall” or a dark chapter in a Steven King Novel, is to put it mildly in my opinion,Horrific!

To quote the new Governor of the State of Wisconsin Scott Walker, “When you do something bold you get detractors”. The principal detractors to the end of mercury fillings has always been, and have only been the ADA and all the agencies they have lobbied, and paid, in their attempt to make sure that this can never happen! True science has always shown evidence of great harm to health and the environment, when mercury is placed inside the body. Great lengths have been taken to prevent mercury from outside the body to not enter the body. I.e. button cell batteries, auto switches, fever thermometers, and the new CFL light bulbs. We have to take extreme measures for less than 5mg of the same elemental mercury in a CFL if one gets broken. But what are you going to do about the 82mg in an average mercury filling that have been placed in a child or women of childbearing age?

Now the ADA can no longer use with any credibility, the old mantra “There is no scientific evidence that has ever proven these filings to be harmful”. Because of the FDA hearings in December, 2010 they can no longer say these fillings are safe for children 17 years and younger and women of childbearing age and nursing mothers. They can no longer say that when the 5 dissimilar metals are combined and set in saliva, the mercury becomes bound or inert. This is why in 1983 my husband Dr. Thomas Anderson who was practicing dentistry in Vail Colorado at the time, and had an undergraduate degree in analytical chemistry became interested in this subject. Tom went to a seminar with Dr. Hal Huggins in Colorado Springs, because of his chemistry background he could not believe that the mercury in the fillings he was using was safe or stable. After the scientific evidence Dr. Huggins provided back in 1982, and his own chemistry background, he stopped using mercury fillings and, has chosen not to be a member of the ADA because of the lack of true science and closed minds on this issue. There have also been many studies showing the Children’s Amalgam Trials to be no evidence of mercury fillings safety. And this study is only one of the few studies that the dental establishment says proves mercury fillings are safe for children. See the website www.iaomt.org

It’s time to overthrow this hostile regime for over 170 years of defending the use of a poisonous substance that has been linked to various health and environmental problems, and for demeaning, and directing state dental boards to silence any dentist that would question their authority on this. We cannot afford to wait for the federal government to act on this! We must take immediate action to stop this act of putting poison in the mouths of our most vulnerable population.

On our Maine drivers license there reads “Maine, Where America’s Day Begins”. We are fortunate to be the first in the nation to see the sun rise every day. We are also fortunate to be the state that closest geographically to the Scandinavian countries which have wisely banned mercury fillings, not only in children but in all of their population. We are good people in this state that only want the best for our fellow citizens. This is your chance as legislators to protect the health and well being of our most vulnerable and sensitive citizens, and do something bold that will put an end to the dark chapter in dental history! For the past 12years I have been hopeful of the day when Maine would be the first state in the nation to break rank with the Dental Trade Union, and like a famous quote by former First Lady Nancy Reagan, “Just Say No” to the dentist that would continue exposing children and our mothers to the poison of elemental mercury. This action would be of no cost to the state and great gain for our people and the environment. I ask you with all my heart to please pass this bill with unanimous consent, and allow Maine to become the first state in the nation to ban mercury fillings. Please send this bill on to Governor Le Page, who in signing this into law, the governor and all involved in this effort will afford well deserved, historical, national, and international attention, the kind of attention Mother Nature and the World will approve of!

Respectfully Submitted,
Pamela J. Anderson Houlton, Maine

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