Legal Battle Heating Up on the Mercury Front

Heating Up in Connecticut: Hearing on Whether to Ban Mercury Fillings To Take Place


Things are heating up on the “mercury front” in Connecticut. I have just won my case in Federal Court against the State of Connecticut with respect to freedom of speech. The State decided to settle and indeed I am entitled to publicly speak without reservations or restrictions about mercury, and all its effects. This will have national implications – there is no way to tell how many dentists agree with me that mercury should not be implanted into people’s mouths, but have feared voicing their opinion. A press conference will be held in the near future to publicize this important victory.


Upcoming Hearing Held by CT Department of Environmental Protection

Not only will the CT State Dental Association be upset with the publicity from the news conference, but they are going to be apoplectic with an upcoming hearing being held by the CT Department of Environmental Protection. 


Under the Mercury Education and Reduction Act of 2002, the CT Legislature has the goal of reducing mercury in our environment. The law calls for the “virtual elimination” of mercury products that are manufactured, shipped into, or sold in Connecticut. Because of mercury in our waters, fish should not be eaten from the majority of the lakes and streams in Connecticut. The Center for Disease Control estimates that over 600,000 babies born each year are at risk because of high levels of mercury. Mercury is toxic, and there is no safe level in a human being.


One of the largest polluters of our environment with respect to mercury is the dental profession.

It is estimated that upwards of 24 tons of dental mercury per year is released into the sewers by U.S. dentists. Those fillings which are “safe” in the mouth, when removed from the mouth, if allowed out into wastewater, contaminate our fish and wildlife. To give some perspective on the amount of mercury in an average molar filling, if I were to extract a mercury filled molar and throw it into a 5 acre lake, you would not be able to eat any fish from that lake.


Special dental “amalgam” separators now required

One of the ways to cut down on dental pollution is to place special separators in the dental office that remove most of the mercury before it goes into the waterstream. I was the first dentist in CT to install a separator, over twenty years ago. The State of Connecticut is to be commended; as of last July all general dentists were required to have separators.


Are YOU a mercury polluter?

However, this is not enough. It is imperative that mercury fillings no longer be placed into peoples’ mouths. Why? Anyone with mercury in their mouths is passing mercury into the environmental via their urine and feces. It is estimated that the average person with mercury fillings excretes over 100 micrograms of mercury per day into the waste stream. This translates into over 8 tons of mercury going into our sewers, streams, and ground water. It is estimated that after mercury waste from dental offices, human waste is the next greatest contributor of mercury in our environment. Over half of CT lakes and streams have fish with mercury levels so high, we are told not to eat them.


The intent of the CT State legislature was clear when the Mercury Reduction and Education Act of 2002 was passed. They want the “virtual elimination” of mercury in CT. This debate of whether to ban mercury fillings or not is pure craziness. The doublespeak by the American Dental Association and consequently the State Dental Association and the CT Department of Health must stop. To say that when placed in the mouth, mercury in an amalgam is inert and safe, is an out and out lie. Setting all the science aside, (which proves it is a lie), how can it be safe in the mouth, but as soon as it comes out of the mouth, it is now a hazard to anyone who comes in contact with it and is also a hazard to our lakes and streams, and our fish and wildlife?


The purpose of the bill is clear – get mercury out of our environment. Unless specifically exempted (only a few special exemptions were granted) anything containing more than 250 ppm of Mercury was banned as of July 1, 2004. As of July 1, 2006, all mercury products exceeding 50 parts per million are banned. In each case, mercury fillings far exceed these amounts. With this in mind,the CT Department of Environmental Protection is going to hold hearings on whether or not mercury fillings should be banned in CT. Of course the CT State Dental Association is arguing that the legislature meant for mercury fillings not to be banned. This is absurd. The intent of the law is to limit mercury in our environment. 


I urge all those who are able to attend to please do so.

The hearing will be held on Thursday May 26, from 5 – 8 PM at the Department of Environmental Protection at 79 Elm St. in Hartford, fifth floor in the Phoenix Auditorium.The purpose of this meeting is to receive public comment. I urge all those who are able to attend to please do so. I have been told everyone will be given the opportunity to speak.


Just holding these hearings is a huge step forward

Connecticut could be the first state to ban mercury fillings. I can’t stress how important it is to attend. Having said that, after waiting all these years for something like this to happen, the hearing was scheduled when I am out of the country, and I cannot change my plans. I am very upset; however, my son, Dr. Adam Breiner, will read my statement for the record.


I urge everyone to contact their Connecticut state legislator. Stress how you hope they are in favor of enforcing the law and that you encourage them to attend the hearing and publicly speak on protecting our environment. 


This debate on whether a poison is a poison, or whether a little poison is OK, but a lot isn’t, is nonsensical. I call upon the Commissioner to enforce the law as it was intended by the state legislature, but above all let common sense rule. 


After all, isn’t the purpose of the Department of Environmental Protection to protect the citizens of CT? Isn’t this the bottom line? Isn’t this what it is really about?

© 2005, Mark A. Breiner, DDS

The information presented in this newsletter is for educational purposes only. You should consult a qualified dentist or health practitioner for diagnosis and treatment. 

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