"Phase-down" of dental amalgam

  • Date: 23 January 2013

A COMPLETE phase-out of dental amalgam is not on the cards after a new UN treaty on mercury pollution calls for "phase-down" over an appropriate period of time.

The BDA has welcomed the approach adopted by the treaty which was agreed in Geneva this month at a meeting of the United Nations’ Environmental Programme’s Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee. It had previously been feared that the treaty would require a complete phase-out of the use of amalgam, and that a short deadline would be set for it to be achieved.

The BDA lobbied in the UK against such an approach arguing that more time was needed for suitable alternative dental filling materials to be developed.

Dr Stuart Johnston, who led the FDI World Dental Federation Dental Amalgam Task Team at the negotiations, said: "Dentists in the UK recognise the environmental imperative to minimise mercury emissions, but it was important that this treaty took account not just of the environmental agenda, but also of the need for dentists to care for their patients.

"We are pleased to see that this treaty has taken a pragmatic view, acknowledging that the phase-down approach advocated by the World Health Organization is a sensible way to make progress. The final treaty strikes a sensible balance, clearly setting out an aim for reduced use of mercury, while recognising the unique contribution it makes to oral healthcare. It also recognises the important role that prevention can play in improving oral health and reducing demand for fillings."

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