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Next Steps Toward Mercury-Free Dentistry

Posted Jan 25 2013 9:29am

The global mercury treaty we told you about a while back ? The good news came this week: It’s been adopted by 140 nations.

The new accord, signed on Saturday in Geneva, aims to cut mercury pollution from mining, utility plants and a host of products and industrial processes, by setting enforceable limits and encouraging shifts to alternatives in which mercury is not used, released or emitted.

It now moves on to the ratification process. According to the AP report quoted above, once signed in Japan later this year, “50 nations must ratify it before it comes into force, which officials predicted would happen in three to four years.”

The treaty is not perfect. It could be tougher. But as critical supporters say, it’s a “first step,” and that’s something. And, importantly, the agreement addresses the critical problem of dental mercury and includes “binding requirements for countries to phase down dental amalgam,” according to the Mercury Policy Project media release on the matter. Said MPP director, Michael T. Bender, “This is the beginning of the end of dental amalgam globally.”

Here’s the key passage:

Article 6 Annex C Part II – Dental Amalgam Provisions
Measures to be taken by a Party to phase down the use of dental amalgam shall take into account the Party’s domestic circumstances and relevant international guidance and shall include two or more of the measures from the following list:

The full text of Article 6 is available here (and includes a list of other mercury-containing products to be phased out).

Unfortunately, no phase-out date was set for dental amalgam, and the bar for compliance does seem on the low side. But again, it’s a start – and an important one. And we’re grateful to all those who worked so hard these past four years to make this treaty a reality.

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