International Scene



June 8, 2003
by: Maryann Rygg (an American living in Norway)

On June 3, 2003 the Swedes again made historical progress in the worldwide campaign to stop the use of dental amalgam as a filling material. The 'Dental Material Commission' delivered its report and recommendations to the Swedish Minister of Social Welfare, and we woke up on June 3 to headlines in both Swedish and Norwegian newspapers:

'Amalgam to be discontinued in dental care' (Dagens Nyheter, Sweden)

'Abolition of amalgam is welcomed' (Dagens Nyheter, Sweden)

'No more amalgam fillings' (Svenska Dagbladet, Sweden)

'Sweden will get rid of amalgam' (Aftenposten, Norway)

'Swedes say NO to amalgam in teeth' (Aftenposten Aften, Norway)

Dagens Nyheter wrote 'Amalgam can cause ill health. That is the unanimous conclusion of the study delivered on Tuesday to the Minister of Social Welfare Lars Engqvist. The Dental Materials Commission recommends that the govenment and Parliament speed up efforts to remove mercury-containing amalgam from dental care'. The other newspaper articles confirmed this sensational news.

Those who read this are probably already familiar with the background of Professor Emeritus Maths Berlin from Sweden: that he has led two WHO Task Groups-one on inorganic mercury and one on methylmercury. The news has spread around the world that he recently was tasked by the Swedish government's 'Dental Material Commission' to give an updated risk analysis in environmental medical terms on mercury in dental filling materials, based on an overview of scientific literature published in 1997-2002 and current knowledge. Many have also seen Professor Berlin testify on May 8 before the US Congress Subcommittee on Human Rights and Wellness, or read an account from this hearing. (see for his report in English, and for an account of the hearing on May 8).

The report and recommendation delivered to the Swedish Minister on June 3 is a 557-page report containing analysis and recommendations to increase knowledge about health problems related to amalgam and other dental materials, and to improve the care given to patients with such problems. It includes the latest report and conclusions from Professor Berlin.

The report is expected to be translated into English and posted to the Dental Commission's website in the course of the summer:

The Swedish Dental Material Commission included representatives from the Swedish Dental Association, the dental schools, the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare, and the Swedish Association of Dental Mercury Patients. It is remarkable that they have been able to agree that dental amalgam can cause ill health or contribute to ill health in sensitive individuals, and that amalgam should be phased out as quickly as possible for both health and environmental reasons. They have also suggested that Sweden should work within the European Union for such a goal.

Christer Malmström, DDS, represented the patients' association in the Commission and he described the report as huge step forward. He does not agree, however, with the recommendation to use 18 million Swedish kroner for a research program. 'There is already enough science to help 80 per cent of those who are ill, and more money is needed for their care. Science does not heal patients', he is quoted as saying.

Dagens Nyheter also wrote that 'The recommendation to quickly phase out amalgam is welcomed by representatives in the parliament's standing committee on social affairs. The fact that a government study has now agreed that amalgam is harmful, is seen as positive'. The Swedish Parliament voted for a ban on amalgam in 1994, but implementation has been delayed due to rules and regulations of the European Union.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the many Swedish anti-amalgam activists and professionals who have labored for decades to spread information about the harmful effects of dental amalgam. Their information led me to have my amalgam carefully removed ten years ago, resulting in subsequent dramatic health benefits. I no longer suffer from the serious intestinal disease which led to my hospitalization for almost a whole month in 1990.

June 8, 2003

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