Sixty U.S. and foreign environmental groups say the Food and Drug Administration is failing to comply with an international treaty it signed that would weed out the use of dental fillings containing toxic mercury.
The Minamata Convention was intended to protect public health and the environment from toxic mercury compounds. The U.S. was the first among 128 signatories of the treaty in 2013, which would discontinue the use of mercury compounds, known as amalgams, to treat rotting teeth.
Despite this progress, nonprofit groups petitioned Secretary of State John Kerry in a letter, urging the State Department to “take a leadership role in encouraging FDA to reduce amalgam use.”(1)
According to a 2013 report by the U.S. Geological Survey, mercury fillings make up 35 to 57 percent of the country’s end-use mercury products. To add insult to injury, another study found that 28.5 tons of mercury dental waste had contaminated the environment in 2013.(1)
Meanwhile, other countries including Norway, Sweden, Japan, the Netherlands, Finland, Estonia, Italy and Denmark, are reported to have reduced their use of mercury fillings by 95 percent.
FDA spokesman Jeff Ventura says he could not comment on the letter sent to Kerry because of ongoing litigation.
“FDA will continue to evaluate the safety of dental amalgams and will take any further actions that are warranted,” he said.(1)
FDA says reducing the use of mercury fillings is too expensive for low-income families, implying that they prefer to put mercury, rather than money, where their mouth is.