Your Teeth May Be Poisoning Your Water Environmentalists Urge Connecticut to Ban Use of Dental Mercury

Press Releases: 05.26.05

HARTFORD, Conn., May 26 -- Mercury from human teeth poisons Connecticut waterways, experts said today, urging the state to recognize that, under current law, dentists are banned from using this deadly neurotoxin. "The purpose of the state's anti-mercury law is clear -- elimination of the discharge of mercury into our environment," said Kathleen Bailey, chair of the Coalition to Enforce Connecticut's Zero Mercury Law. "Here is a perfect opportunity for the state to take the lead in ridding our environment of this toxic metal."

Consumers for Dental Choice, long time advocates of a ban on mercury fillings, announced that it has retained the law firm Brown Rudnick Berlack Israels LLP ( to assist in demonstrating that current state law, Public Act 02-90, bans mercury amalgam. Brown Rudnick is a multi-national law firm with over 200 lawyers in Hartford, Connecticut, and Boston, New York, Providence, Washington, D.C., and London. Brown Rudnick has a long history of representation of public interest groups, such as the Consumers for Dental Choice. Brown Rudnick represented the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and other New England states in the successful litigation against the tobacco industry.

Two attorneys from the law firm will head a legal team representing the Washington-based advocacy organization:

* Atty. Douglas A. Cohen, from the firm's Hartford Office, is a former attorney for the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the U. S. Department of Justice. He has practiced environmental law for over 25 years and is a leader in the national environmental legal practice. 

* Atty. Nancy B. Reiner, from the firm's Boston office, was a lead attorney in recent successful litigation against the tobacco industry. She represented Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island in part of the litigation against the tobacco industry that resulted in a $206 billion settlement in 1998. Recently, Ms. Reiner represented the City of Boston in litigation against the gun industry.

Others urging the state to ban mercury fillings include Dr. Boyd Haley chair of the Chemistry Department at the University of Kentucky, Michael Bender, head of the Vermont-based Mercury Policy Project, and Dr. Dean Bass, technical director at Doctor's Data, West Chicago, Ill., a national medical sample testing laboratory.

Dr. Bass said that he conducted a study of human fecal samples that shows people with mercury fillings excrete 10 times more mercury than people with no mercury fillings. "Our research shows that in Connecticut alone, humans are excreting nearly 100 pounds of mercury every year," Dr. Bass said.

Gina McCarthy, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection, today begins analysis of the law to determine whether it bans dentists from using the silver-colored mercury fillings. The DEP will accept written comments until June 9, 2005 and has announced that her decision will be rendered by mid-October.

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 3/4 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.

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