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Safety of Mercury in Dental Fillings Questioned

As reported in a series of news outlets, a US federal advisory panel rejected the US Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) conclusion that mercury in dental fillings poses little or no health risk to patients. A September 7, 2006 USA Today story reported that by a "13-7 vote Thursday, the advisers said the federal report didn't objectively and clearly present the current state of knowledge about the fillings." Basically the federal advisory panel stated that they do not believe the FDA has yet proved that mercury in dental fillings is safe.

Michael Aschner, a professor of pediatrics and pharmacology at Vanderbilt University and a panel consultant was one of the experts who cast a "no" vote. He commented, "There are too many things we don't know, too many things that were excluded."

An opponent to mercury fillings, Michael Burke, blames mercury fillings for the early onset Alzheimer's disease diagnosed in his wife, Phyllis, in 2004. He stated, "Do the right, decent, honorable and God-loving thing: There needs to be an immediate embargo on mercury fillings for everyone, or at least pregnant women and children, because they are our future."

The typical dental fillings in question are Amalgam. These fillings are made up of about 50% mercury, joined with silver, copper and tin. It is the mercury that has caused the most concern as mercury poisoning in other applications has been well proven.

The USA Today article notes that scientists have found that mercury levels in the blood, urine and body tissues rise in conjunction with mercury fillings. The more fillings the more mercury found. However, they note that these levels of mercury fall below the FDA recommended safety levels and therefore, according to the rejected FDA report, should not cause harm.

An article on this same subject on WebMD also on September 7th warned that, "Prolonged or excessive mercury exposure can cause neurodevelopmental deficits in children, such as lower IQs or nerve problems, as well as neurologic problems in adults." One of the points that the WebMD article noted is that researchers for the FDA had not determined whether mercury fillings are more dangerous for pregnant women and their newborns than for adults.