Ban on mercury-laced dental amalgams sought
- Sheila Crisostomo () - February 9, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - An advocacy group is asking the Department of Health (DOH) to ban dental amalgams that contain mercury, which is harmful to health and the environment.

In a recent meeting with Dr. Irma Asuncion, acting director of the DOH-National Center for Disease, the International Association of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT)-Philippines presented a number of documents and studies citing the ill-effects of mercury-laced dental fillings, otherwise known as “Hg-Am.”

Dr. Lillian Ebuen, IAOMT-Philippines executive director, said amalgams, with a high concentration of mercury, that leach into the mouth can “in the long run cause birth defects, mental retardation and a host of other illnesses such as cancer and respiratory-related problems.”

“The irony of it all is that we are concerned with mercury contaminating our air, land and water systems, yet we put mercury fillings in our mouths without having any second thoughts,” Ebuen said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has listed dental amalgams as among the products containing mercury which it describes as “one of the 10 groups of chemicals of major public health concern.”

WHO describes mercury on its website as a “naturally occurring element that is found in air, water and soil” and is “harmful to humans, especially pregnant women, infants and children.”

Ebuen gave assurance that there are now other alternative restorative materials that can be used by dentists.

“Options such as resin-based composites and atraumatic restorative treatment (ART) have consistently proven to be more practical, more durable and more affordable than dental amalgams. In fact, developed countries have moved away from using mercury in treating caries,” she said.

According to Asuncion, they will review DOH Administrative Order No. 21-2008 to determine if dental amalgams are included in the mercury products being phased out in all health care facilities in the country.

“We are looking into the administrative order to know the best thing that we can do. If it is not yet included, we will get it if there is enough evidence (to show its mercury content),” she said.

Asuncion added that if dental amalgams are proven to contain mercury and is therefore hazardous to health, her office would propose its inclusion in the ban.

ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER NO ASUNCION DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH DR. IRMA ASUNCION DR. LILLIAN EBUEN EBUEN INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF ORAL MEDICINE AND TOXICOLOGY MERCURY NATIONAL CENTER
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