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California city seeks amalgam ban

California city seeks amalgam ban
Dr. Thomas Stewart, CDA president

Sacramento, Calif.—The California Dental Association is “working with locally elected officials in Costa Mesa and Orange County to educate them on the use of amalgam,” said Dr. Thomas Stewart, CDA president.

Costa Mesa claims to be “the first city in America to endorse a ban on dental amalgam.” The city council approved 5-0 a non-binding resolution Oct. 19, 2010 calling on state and federal agencies to take steps “to eliminate the use of mercury in dental practices.”

“While this action does not have the force of law, it is extremely troubling,” Dr. Stewart said in a memo urging component leaders to monitor dental amalgam activity “in your area.”
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Resolution No. 10, a resolution opposing the use of dental mercury, includes resolving clauses requesting that all dental practices in Costa Mesa “voluntarily cease use of dental amalgam” and directing that copies of the resolution be disseminated to the other 33 cities in Orange County, Calif.

“The passage of this unfortunate resolution is a reminder to us that we need to be vigilant in monitoring all branches of government to make sure policymakers receive accurate information about dental issues,” Dr. Stewart said. “We would like to see Costa Mesa City Council members reconsider this issue once they have all the facts.”

In an agenda report prepared for the council’s Oct. 19 meeting, the city manager said, “It is unclear at this time as to whether the City of Costa Mesa, as a general law City, has any legal authority to ban the use of Dental Mercury. As a general rule, regulation of the medical professions is outside the purview of local government. However, the City clearly has the authority to express as a matter of public policy its support for a ban on Dental Mercury and to convey that support to the appropriate State and Federal authorities.

“This is a matter of public policy in expressing the City’s position. Should the City Council adopt the attached Resolution, it will represent a policy statement on behalf of the City but does not have the force of law.”

Dental amalgam is a stable alloy that has been studied extensively and has an established record of safety and effectiveness, the CDA said. CDA believes that the choice to use amalgam, which is a safe and effective filling material, should remain an informed choice that is made by the dentist in consultation with each individual patient.

American Dental Association public and professional amalgam resources are posted on the respective oral health topics pages at www.ada.org.