More than 20 years ago, Norway began to actively phase out the use of dental amalgam. In 2008, it banned mercury outright, with limited exemptions for dental use for another two years. Since the end of 2010, mercury-free dentistry has been the norm.
And how has it gone?
That’s the subject of a report commissioned by the Norwegian Climate and Pollution Agency, issued earlier this year. It reviews “the experiences from the phase-out of the use of dental amalgam as tooth filling material in Norway, and make[s] an assessment of the costs to the society from the actions taken to limit the release of mercury.” And its conclusions?
- Use and release of mercury are substantially reduced.
- Experiences with the alternatives to dental amalgam are generally positive.
- Abatement “end-of-pipe” costs lower than dental amalgam phase-out costs.
That is, they found it does cost more to phase-out mercury than merely to contain emissions. But this, the report urges, is no deal-breaker. Why not? Because the long-term goal is to eliminate mercury pollution. As less amalgam is used and more replaced with nontoxic materials, those “end-pipe” costs will gradually dwindle to zero. The phase-out costs are thus an investment.
And if you’re not familiar with the site, it’s definitely one worth bookmarking. Its admins are amassing a fine library of mercury and amalgam research done over the years. A sample of references you may find worthwhile:
- Characterization of Health Complaints Before & After Removal of Amalgam Fillings
- A Systematic Review of Mercury Toxicity
- Significant Mercury Deposits in Internal Organs Following the Removal of Dental Amalgam
- Migration of Mercury from Dental Amalgam through Human Teeth
Image by Froskeland, via Flickr