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Dental groups urge U.S. opposition to international amalgam curbs

Mercury treaty negotiations conclude in 2013

Washington—A ten-organization dental coalition June 4 urged the U.S. government to oppose international mercury treaty curbs on dental amalgam.

The fourth session of the United Nations Environment Programme’s Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC4) to prepare a global legally binding instrument on mercury will convene June 27-July 2 in Punta del Este, Uruguay. INC3 was held Oct. 31-Nov. 4 in Nairobi, Kenya. INC5 will meet in Geneva, Switzerland in January 2013 to conclude treaty negotiations. The text will then be open for signature at a 2013 diplomatic conference in Japan.

“One small component of that draft binding instrument relates to dental amalgam, a dental restorative material needed to provide the most effective treatment for certain clinical situations and populations,” said the coalition letter to the U.S. Department of State. “We urge the United States to oppose any effort in these negotiations to ban or limit the availability of dental amalgam.”

The letter is signed by organizations “represent(ing) the preeminent authorities on and advocates for oral health,” the Academy of General Dentistry, American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, American Academy of Periodontology, American Association of Endodontists, American Association of Orthodontists, American Association of Public Health Dentistry, American Dental Association, Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors and International Association for Dental Research.

The U.S. government should “use the ongoing negotiations…as an opportunity to promote public health here and throughout the world,” the letter said.

“We further urge the United States to insist that the binding agreement (1) call for national efforts to prevent oral disease (thereby reducing the demand for amalgam and all other restorative materials), (2) promote research into alternative dental materials and (3) promote responsible handling of waste amalgam to mitigate an already small impact on the environment.

“By taking this approach, the United States will help to assure that optimal care is available to those who need it, while also promoting a worldwide campaign to eradicate oral disease.”