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01 June 2016 – Bangkok, Thailand. Emphasizing worldwide concern over the environment and people'€™s health, environmentalists from around the Asian region today stressed the importance of ratifying the Minamata Convention on Mercury and devising a strategy to mount pressure to phase down amalgam use and move towards mercury-free dentistry.

While experts and activists have commended government efforts in restricting the use of dental mercury, participants of a conference on dental amalgam use, also cited that government agencies cannot work alone as it needs the support of consumers, the media, and the dental health sector itself.

Attending the conference, Dr Lillian Lasaten-Ebuen, President of the International Association of Oral Medicine and Toxicology in the Philippines (IAOMT-Philippines), commented, "We have very strong laws on mercury and mercury-containing products, unfortunately, dental amalgam is left untouched by these current laws."

Composed of 50 percent mercury and other heavy metals, dental amalgam or silver fillings have always been a point of contention among dental health practitioners, health experts, and environmental activists. Dental amalgam supporters have argued that silver fillings are safe and are far superior to other restoration materials.

Dr Ebuen however is quick to demystify the claims and have presented research demonstrating dental amalgam fillings as environment and health hazards. Studies have shown that dental amalgam fillings can leach and can release mercury vapors during the course of its lifetime. The UNEP also estimates that the cost of health and environmental damage caused by exposure to mercury is $22 billion. “Mercury is very toxic, chronic exposure to even to small amounts can lead to illnesses and other health problems."€ Dr Ebuen shared.

However, many consumers and even some dental health practitioners may not even be aware of the dangers posed by dental amalgam. Dr Ebuen added, “We need to work hard to raise awareness on the issue and inform the dental health sector of their vital role in keeping our environment and communities€™ safe.

Dr Ebuen commented, "€œOur government agencies such as the EMB-DENR - recognize that dental amalgam use needs to be addressed, however, dental institutions - particularly the dental universities have remained resistant - holding on to old-fashioned techniques even when the global community is moving towards change.

The Regional Conference likewise determined that representatives should work closely with academicians and dental associations to bring changes to the profession and the dental curriculum.


The conference, “Successful Strategies to End Use of Dental Amalgam in Asia” was attended by Charlie Brown of World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry; Shahriar Hossain of ESDO, Satish Sinha of Toxics Link, Mahmood A Khwaja of SDPI, Lilian Ebuen of WAMFD-VO for SEA Philippines, Surya Anaya of Bali Fokus Foundation, Ram Charitra Sah of CEPHED, Yao Lingling of All China Environment Federation, Samuel Chademana of Groundwork.