Total Mercury Amalgam Ban Proposed for Europe

by | Jul 19, 2023 | Mercury / Dental Amalgam

Late last week, some very big news came from Europe: The European Commission has proposed to ban mercury amalgam completely, with the phase-out to begin January 1, 2025.

The European Union currently bars the use of this highly toxic material in pregnant and nursing women, and all children under the age of 15. But as the Dental Tribune reports,

Since there are viable mercury-free alternatives, dental amalgam shall no longer be used for dental treatments of any member of the population from January 1, 2025. The proposal also includes a ban on its manufacture and export, making an important contribution to reducing mercury emissions internationally.

The proposal still needs to be approved by the European Parliament and Council, but it’s still a Very Big Deal.

“This is a milestone. Finally, we get a regulation for dental amalgam, the largest remaining use of mercury in Europe and a serious threat to health and the environment,” says Florian Schulze, director of the European Network for Environmental Medicine, who has been pushing for the phase-out for years.

“Numerous countries, such as Sweden, Norway, Moldova, Lithuania, Switzerland, Bolivia, Ecuador, Indonesia, the Philippines, or Zambia, have already phased out the use of amalgam. Most recently, Poland had replaced amalgam with alternatives in the statutory health insurance,” explains Schulze.

The big question is when the United States will follow suit. As the European Commission noted, there are good mercury-free alternatives available, including composite resins and ceramics like zirconia, many of which are broadly biocompatible. They’re also far more aesthetic, looking like natural teeth.

Despite the great strides we’ve made through recent years, though, American dentists can still place “silver” mercury amalgam fillings as they like. The FDA guidance recommends they not be used for particularly vulnerable populations, but for now, it’s only a recommendation.

Still, there’s reason to be hopeful. As Charlie Brown of Consumers for Dental Choice noted in a recent email,

For the United States and Canada, a win in Europe portends change here too. First, it would cut off imports of amalgam from Europe. Second, it strengthens our case to end amalgam use in U.S. government programs and Canadian federal programs. Third, it signals to the diehard mercury users at the American Dental Association that they should abandon this poison sooner rather than later because we’re going to win the battle for mercury-free dentistry!

Indeed.

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