We have discussed dental amalgam and its risks to human health before. Finally, there is new legislation in sight. The European Commission has revised the EU Mercury Regulation to protect EU citizens and the environment from toxic mercury. Among other things, this will completely ban the use of dental amalgam, for which 40 tons of mercury are currently consumed annually in the EU. The revised mercury ordinance provides for the following:
– No more use of dental amalgam from January 1, 2025; viable mercury-free alternatives are available.

– Ban on the manufacture and export of dental amalgam from the EU from January 1, 2025;

– Ban on the manufacture and export of six mercury-containing lamps from January 1, 2026 and January 1, 2028 (depending on lamp type).

The delegated act adopted under the Mercury Regulation transposes into EU law the decisions taken at the fourth Conference of the Parties (2022) to the Minamata Convention by introducing a ban on the production, import, and export of eight additional mercury-containing products, including mercury-containing lamps and non-electrical equipment.

The Minamata Convention is the main international legal framework for the protection of human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury to air, water, and soil. Like the Mercury Regulation, it addresses the entire life cycle of mercury, from primary mercury mining to mercury waste management.

The revised Mercury Regulation must now be approved by the European Parliament and the Council under the ordinary legislative procedure. The delegated act will be sent to the European Parliament and the Council for consideration.

Mercury is a highly toxic chemical that poses a threat to both human health and the environment. When released into the environment, it enters the food chain where it accumulates (mainly in fish). High mercury exposure can damage the brain, lungs, kidneys, and immune system.

Historically, mercury has been used in a wide range of applications, including gold mining, batteries, fluorescent tubes, thermometers, and barometers. Over the last twenty years, the EU has developed a comprehensive body of legislation, in particular the Mercury Regulation, which protects human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury, taking into account the entire life cycle of mercury from primary mercury mining to final disposal of mercury waste. It also includes measures on trade in mercury-containing products and mercury pollution.

The Minamata Convention entered into force on August 16, 2017, and has so far been ratified by the European Union and 143 countries, including all EU Member States. The fifth session of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury (COP-5) will be held in Geneva, Switzerland, from October 30 to November 3, 2023.


9 Responses to Long awaited: EU prohibits the use of dental amalgam

  • I thought that most dentists had stopped using amalgam in the UK by around 2000? Scare stories in the mid/late 80s encouraged many to have their amalgam fillings replaced with plastic fillings. However, well placed amalgam fillings would have been better left alone though until they had to be replaced due to wear. Unfortunately the plastic fillings of the 80s/90s contained significant quantities of Bisphenol A. So some people concerned about micro quantities of Mercury vapour ended up not only exposing themselves to significant quantities of Mercury vapour during removal but then to significant quantities of Bisphenol A.

  • Mercury is not good in the environment. Dentists do not wish to be exposed to it. BUT: the consensus in the scientific and medical communities is that amalgam fillings are safe for adults and children ages 6 and above. Several organizations, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), World Health Organization (WHO), and the American Dental Association (ADA), state that amalgam fillings are safe, with the benefits of durability, longevity, and lower cost than other materials outweighing potential risks. By contrast, woowoo supporters of (S)CAM frequently scream unevidenced claims that mercury amalgams are DESTROYING HEALTH. This EU ruling could exacerbate these fears and even cause more patients to demand dentists remove their (perfectly safe) amalgams! This is a bit like asbestos in a building – safe if undistrubed, but some risks come when removing – particularly bulk removals!

    • I agree that the EU could “exacerbate” some fears by changing their position. I am not in favor of patients removing amalgam fillings. As you say, the exposure may be far fewer leaving things as they are. That said, if the EU is in the right, they can save many a patient from unnecessary exposure going forward. That is always a good thing.

      Not every piece of asbestos can forever go on undisturbed. IF IF IF removal can be done safely, then it can beneficial. Asbestos insulation many times gets accidentally disturbed, unknowingly or unintentionally. In the case of the World Trade Towers (9/11), asbestos was spread over a large area and contaminated many a innocent bystander. Firemen deal with this issue quite a bit. So, if we can remove something unhealthful from the market with a good replacement… then we should do it.

    • Don’t remove it, because it is too dangerous. And – very important – tell it persons, who want to remove it, because of pregnancy or illness like cancer!? Send them to charlatans, which will remove it and will charge for removal and “homeopathic” treatment. I hope you can see your argument in it’s full paradoxical shape.

  • Allegedly, mankind landed on the Moon more than 50 years ago – sorry Edzard, I don’t have absolute, cast iron, beyond all reasonable doubt, peer reviewed, double blind, placebo controlled evidence to support that claim….
    My point being, there have been significant advances in the quality of dental treatment over the last Century, yet science has yet to invent a non-toxic, safe and robust material for the billions of tooth fillings carried out each year. Weird or what?!

  • What a shame that Sandra Herman Courtney has moved on to a higher plane. She’d have loved getting the wrong end of the stick about this.

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