Press Releases: 05.05.05

Further information: Michael J. London, Office: 203-261-1549, Cell: 203-556-5123



WASHINGTON, May 5, 2005 – The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection will decide if current state law bans dentists from putting poison in people’s teeth.

Consumers for Dental Choice, Washington-based representatives of the national movement to ban dental mercury, today announced it is joining with The Coalition to Enforce Connecticut’s Zero Mercury Law and other consumer advocates, health professionals and legislators to provide evidence supporting a ban on mercury in tooth fillings in Connecticut.

“DEP Commissioner Gina McCarthy, once again, has demonstrated both her independence and her concern for the environment by taking a new look at this important state law,” said Betty McLaughlin, one of the Coalition organizers and the Director of Environmental Affairs for Connecticut Audubon Society.

“Every time a dentist places a mercury filling, bits of mercury are washed down the drain and eventually into our waterways,” McLaughlin said. “Pollution prevention is the answer. If we really care about cleaning up the environment, we must ban this significant source of pollution.”

“It is ironic that the State recommends limits to the amount of mercury-tainted fish that we eat, yet allows unlimited amounts of dental fillings-- that are 50% mercury -- to be placed in our mouths,” said Dr. Mark A. Mitchell, President of the Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice.

“I have studied Connecticut’s anti-mercury law and the language is crystal clear,” said Charles Brown, National Counsel for Consumers for Dental Choice. “The statute names exemptions and provides a clear process for extending the phase out of eligible products. The wording of the law bans continued use of mercury in tooth fillings.”

“Connecticut has taken the lead in reducing mercury pollution at its source,” said Atty. Kathleen Bailey, West Hartford, chair of the Coalition to Enforce Connecticut’s Zero Mercury Law. “We’ve already accepted the law’s ban on novelty toys with mercury batteries, mercury thermometers and other mercury devices. Now, with public support, Connecticut also will be the first state in the nation to prohibit dentists from placing this toxin into our mouths.”

“I look forward to working with Connecticut consumer groups to provide the evidence needed so the Connecticut DEP will enforce this ban on mercury fillings – a ban that will help improve the state’s environment as well as the health of its citizens,” Brown added.

DEP Commissioner Gina McCarthy has scheduled a public meeting for May 26 to hear views on whether current state law bans dentists from using silver-colored mercury fillings. The DEP will accept written comments until June 9, 2005.

Public Act 02-90 states that after July 1, 2004, products with 250 parts per million of mercury can no longer be sold in Connecticut. So-called “silver” dental fillings contain 500,000 parts per million of mercury. Each filling has about ¾ of a gram of mercury, the same as a mercury thermometer, also banned under the statute. Mercury is a known toxin that causes brain damage and a host of other medical problems. It has been associated with childhood autism as well as Alzheimer’s Disease.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency considers mercury in teeth to be so toxic that when a tooth containing this material is extracted, it must be handled as hazardous waste and disposed of only in authorized locations. The American Dental Association continues to lobby in support of the use of mercury, despite widespread availability of a cost effective, safe alternative.

“National research shows that about a third of all dentists have stopped using mercury fillings altogether – they use tooth-colored resin instead,” Brown said. “We don’t hear much about these dentists because, unfortunately, the American Dental Association and Connecticut State Dental Association continually try to prevent dentists from speaking about the need to ban mercury.”

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