Dental mercury is an issue that affects all of us – even those of us who have never had an amalgam filling put in our mouths. For dentistry is the single largest source of the mercury that pollutes our public water supplies.
Now the EPA has finally proposed a new rule to do something about it: require every dental office in the US to install and maintain amalgam separators.
“Setting a pretreatment requirement for dental offices is a cost effective method of keeping mercury out of our environment,” said Laura Haight with NYPIRG. “New York has had a similar requirement in place for years. Amalgam separators are widely available, straightforward to install, operate without electricity or chemical addition, have low installation and maintenance costs, and facilitate easy recycling of mercury from dental fillings.”
With compliance, this “common sense rule” – the phrase belongs to the EPA Office of Water’s deputy assistant administrator, Kenneth J. Kopocis – would keep an estimated 4.4 tons of mercury out of the environment each year.
Of course, there are other paths that dental mercury can take into our environment, as shown in this excellent video by the creator of the powerful forthcoming documentary You Put What in My Mouth?:
“So what’s the best way to stop dental mercury pollution?” asks Charlie Brown of Consumers for Dental Choice, who led the way in bringing about the latest change. “Stop using mercury amalgam dental fillings.”
Image by James Wheeler, via Flickr