This week, we got another email from Charlie Brown, National Counsel of Consumers for Dental Choice and President of the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry, delivering some excellent news: the US Mercury Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee has called for the phase-out of dental amalgam.
The Committee is part of an international effort to prepare a global legally binding treaty on mercury.
Charlie explains what happened and what it means:
The United States government has announced that it supports a “phase down, with the goal of eventual phase out by all Parties, of mercury amalgam.” This statement – a radical reversal of its former position that “any change toward the use of dental amalgam is likely to result in positive public health outcomes” – is part of the U.S. government’s submission for the upcoming third round of negotiations for the world mercury treaty.
While couched in diplomatic hedging – remember it is still early in the negotiations – this new U.S. position makes three significant breakthroughs for the mercury-free dentistry movement:
- The U.S. calls for the phase-out of amalgam ultimately and recommends actions to “phase down” its use immediately….
- The U.S. speaks up for protecting children and the unborn from amalgam, recommending that the nations “educat[e] patients and parents in order to protect children and fetuses.”
- The U.S. stands up for the human right of every patient and parent to make educated decisions about amalgam.
What does this mean? Our position – advocating the phase-out of amalgam – is now the mainstream because the U.S. government supports it. Who is the outlier now? It’s the pro-mercury faction, represented by the World Dental Federation and the American Dental Association….
We applaud the U.S. government. But tough work lies ahead. For example, we must demonstrate to the world that the available alternatives – such as composites and the adhesive materials used in atraumatic restorative treatment (“ART”) – can cost less than amalgam and will increase access to dental care particularly in developing countries.
For now though, let’s mark this watershed in the mercury-free dentistry movement: the debate has shifted from “whether to end amalgam” to “how to end amalgam.”
You can read and download the full text of the US statement here (PDF).
The next session of negotiations is tentatively scheduled for October 31 – November 4 of this year.