125 W. Wisconsin Ave. • Suite 102 • Pewaukee, WI 53072 • 262.737.4004

New Regulations From the EPA Attempt to Reduce Dental Mercury Waste

Commonly referred to as the "Dental Rule", the "Effluent Limitations Guideline and Standards for Dental Category" is the official name of the updated federal regulations that will affect the dental industry. This ruling was issued in December of 2016 by the Environmental Protection Agency. It was rescinded via an executive order by President Trump in his first day in office, just over a month later, with all other rulings that had been finalized by President Obama but not published in the Federal Register.

As of June 14, 2017, the ruling was back in action and published in the Federal Register. Greenwire reports it was reinstated because the National Resources Defense Council filed a law suit against the EPA because they did not give adequate notice or allow a public comment period before rescinding it; making the withdraw of the ruling illegal.  Dental offices around the nation will be required to comply with the new guidelines by July 14, 2020.

Many Feel Mercury is a Health Concern 

The FDA considers mercury fillings safe for those aged six and older. They do not recommend the use of amalgam fillings in pregnant women or children under six due to the possibility that they may be more sensitive to the effects of the vapor due to the child’s developing neurological systems.

There is research to support the release of mercury vapors when those with amalgam fillings chew. In addition, if the fillings shift, weaken or start to decay vapor is released in higher amounts. Things that influence the amount of vapors released include the number of fillings, the age and condition of the fillings, the size of the fillings and teeth grinding and clenching.

Through the advancement of technology and forward progress of the medical and dental industries, safer more natural materials are available for fillings, said Dr. Bryan Schwartz, DDS, of Whole Health Biomimetic and Biological Dentistry in Pewaukee, Wisconsin.

"There’s really no reason to be using amalgam as a filling material these days," he said. "In fact, in many other countries, it’s banned. There are many materials that mimic the color and feel of the natural tooth and are made of much safer mixtures."

The Dangers of Mercury in Dentistry 

The World Health Organization reports that 53 percent of the mercury emissions in our environment can be traced back to laboratory devices and amalgam materials. This explains the push for new, updated regulations in the way dental practices across the nation dispose of the potentially dangerous material.

The new EPA regulations will reduce the annual disposal of amalgam mercury waste from dental practices by over five tons. Sources of mercury pollution and contamination in the air and the waterways of include goal mining in artisanal and small-scale operation, power plant emissions, consumer products and dental fillings.

Because amalgam fillings which contain up to 50 percent mercury were once the most popular material used in dentistry, there are a lot of people around the world with these fillings, said Schwartz.

"Many people want the fillings removed once they become aware of the potential dangers associated with mercury," he said. "The highest levels of mercury vapor exposure occur during the placement and removal of the fillings. For many patients, the one time increase in exposure is worth the risk to avoid a lifetime of slow vapor leaks and exposure."

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Tuesday, 18 June 2019

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