SAN FRANCISCO [September 20, 2011]—At an FDA Town Meeting Thursday, injured consumers, dentists, and healthcare professionals will challenge the Food and Drug Administration to protect the public from “silver” dental amalgam fillings containing 45-55% mercury. Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, Director of the Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH), will host the meeting September 22, from 8AM-noon at the Embassy Suites Hotel, San Francisco Airport.

Dr. David Kennedy, past president of the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) and 30-year veteran of mercury-free dentistry, will address health-related risks of mercury fillings. Kennedy states: “In many cases, after amalgam fillings were safely removed, my patients’ health dramatically improved, including those with mercury-related conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, and infertility.”

At Thursday’s meeting, concerned citizens will join Birgit Calhoun, a Stanford University librarian who has waited years to confront FDA for their blatant failure to warn the public about the harmful effects of dental mercury. Two of Calhoun’s sons were permanently harmed due to mercury exposure during her pregnancies. One was also poisoned from thirty fillings placed as a toddler. Motivated to understand the toxic effects of mercury, she translated German scientist Alfred Stock’s “The Dangerousness of Mercury Vapor” wherein he concluded in 1926 that mercury fillings are “a nasty sin against humanity”.

Heated debate about dentistry’s use of mercury, a known neurotoxin, dates back to the 1800’s, but recently, the issue has re-emerged as worldwide governmental agencies acknowledge the dangers mercury inflicts upon the humans and the environment.

unepThe Governing Council of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) is currently negotiating the regulation of amalgam fillings as part of a 2013 global treaty on mercury. Earlier this year the U.S. State Department announced support of the phase-down and eventual phase-out of dental amalgam, as well as “educating patients and parents [about mercury fillings] in order to protect children and fetuses.”

President Obama confirmed his administration’s position in his September 8 speech: “I reject the argument that says for the economy to grow, we have to roll back…rules that keep our kids from being exposed to mercury”. In contrast FDA has done nothing.

In May the European Council issued a proclamation calling for restrictions and prohibitions of mercury fillings, which are banned in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark.

In the USA California has warned consumers since 1986 that “dental amalgam causes exposure to mercury, a chemical known…to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm.” Despite this, FDA ruled amalgam unequivocally safe for everyone in 2009.

me-groupHowever, in December 2010, FDA convened a scientific advisory panel to reconsider the safety of mercury fillings. The scientists strongly encouraged FDA to discontinue the use of dental mercury, at least in pregnant women and children, and to require labeling warning consumers about the risks.

At a May’ 2011 FDA Town Hall meeting in Orlando, Dr. Shuren, after hearing from the public, assured them: “We’ve heard the concerns raised by a number of people…and we take those concerns seriously. It is why…we are revisiting our policy and why we reconvened our advisory panel in December…”

Dr. Shuren reiterated FDA’s intention to review the risks of dental mercury in a July 2011 letter to IAOMT attorneys: “We agree that the [2010 scientific advisory] Panel raised issues concerning uncertainties with previous risk assessments on mercury vapor and sensitivities in certain populations to mercury released from dental amalgam. Note that we are currently considering our regulatory options for determining what steps the agency will take…”

Participants at Thursday’s meeting will question why FDA is still failing to protect Americans from mercury, a known poison. Dr. Kennedy explains, “Scientific studies have established the link between mercury and various environmental and human issues, but we are forced to continue to spend billions of dollars on health care related to these issues.”

A growing number of citizens are publicly sharing stories of recovery from diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and myasthenia gravis following safe removal of their mercury fillings. Some of them will ask Dr. Shuren on Thursday why FDA is protecting industry instead of the American public. 

About The Author

Freya advocates for informed consent for patients and banning the use of mercury amalgam dental fillings and is founder and President of the PA Coalition for Mercury-Free Dentistry, a grassroots organization dedicated to bringing public awareness about the health and environmental risks of mercury in dentistry.

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