Congresswoman Diane Watson, Chairman Dan Burton
Congresswoman Diane Watson, Chairman Dan Burton

Commentary by David Kennedy, DDS
1/26/04, Los Angeles
Burton-Watson Subcommittee on Human Rights and Wellness Hearing "California's Compliance with Dental Amalgam Disclosure Policies"

Roberto Villafana DDS (IAOMT) and I drove up to Los Angeles to be present at Congressman Dan Burton and Congresswoman Dianne Watson's hearing on "Why the Dental Board of California has not adequately complied with Dr. Watson's 1992 bill" The bill, SB933, required the board to prepare and distribute an informational fact sheet of the risks of various dental materials.

University of Southern California (USC) sits within Congresswoman Watson's district and generously hosted the hearing with a whole spread of goodies including sandwiches and fluoridated pink lemonade. We met in the Town and Gown room. The path to the congressional hearing from the parking structure was well marked. None of the major news media agencies could spare the time although independent filmmaker Kelly Gallagher was there with two cameras to record the event.

The hearing went off without a hitch except one. The most remarkable thing about the hearing was who couldn't come. Kind of like if the cops came to your front door and asked if they could take a look around your place. If you had something to hide, you'd slam the door and say, "Get a warrant." Well that is about what the California Dental Association did. They were too busy and couldn't find anyone, not even a single solitary member of their huge organization, who could spare the time. Funny, they seem to always have the time to show up and lobby the Dental Board and every legislative endeavor but when it comes to swearing under oath, they aren't available, no comment, see my lawyer (circle one).

With the notable exception of Dr. Chet Yokoyama the 13 other members of the Dental Board of California and the Executive Director were just too busy. (Get a subpoena!)

To his credit and perhaps his embarrassment Dr. Harold Slavkin, DDS Dean or USC agreed to take the pro-mercury side. You have to admit he has to have some courage or is that like the old song, "Where fools Rush in."

Just to set the mood the hearing started off with the first three minutes of IAOMT's Smoking Teeth = Poison Gas video being played so that everyone could see the mercury vapor being emitted from a 25-year-old amalgam under varying conditions. (View on the web site http://www.iaomt.org)

After opening statements by Dan Burton and Dianne Watson, Arizona State Representative Karen Johnson testified about her efforts to get the dentists in Arizona to give truthful informed consent and the behind the scenes activities of the ADA/AZDA efforts to keep the citizens from finding out the truth about amalgam. Their lobbying efforts have once again temporarily stymied the efforts to obtain truthful informed consent, which BTW is already the law, and will some day bring great shame to the dental profession. Dentistry seems like a profession of members who sleep walk through life while their Trade Organization sleeps with industry and lobbies for no disclosure and seems to act with impunity against the will of the people.

Chet Yokoyama described his and Ariane Terlet's two year effort to prepare a user friendly fact sheet, acceptable to the California Department of Consumer Affairs, to the patients and the behind the scenes efforts by the ADA/CDA to thwart his efforts. This strange odyssey began several years ago when Consumers for Dental choice sued the board for failure to comply with Congresswoman Watson's law. As a result of their complete failure to comply with the Watson law, the entire Dental Board was canned by the legislature in 2001 but many of the same foot draggers were subsequently reappointed by the now deposed Governor Grey Davis. Health advocates bought a seat on the board for a mercury-free dentist from the always ready to deal Governor.

Parin Shah, Harold Slavkin DDS, Shawn Khorrami,               Esq., Chet Yokoyama, DDS
Panel from left - Parin Shah, Harold Slavkin DDS, Shawn Khorrami, Esq., Chet Yokoyama, DDS

Chet explained that, after the entire board twice approved the new and improved fact sheet (8 to1 and 8 to 0) and the Department of Consumer Affairs had agreed and the Dental Board President promised to release the fact sheet in December of 2003, he was fired from his position as Chairman of Dental Materials Fact Sheet Committee and every other dentist on the board was appointed to the committee with Lawrence Hundley as Chair. Ariane Trelet (The other Pro-Mercury committee member) mysteriously produced a whole new fact sheet that looked suspiciously like the ADA's position on amalgam. Charlie Brown points out and has sued to correct the fact that the committee is unlawful under the rules of California since a quorum of board members now serves on one committee. That committee is set to meet at 9 AM Thursday January 29th in Sacramento at the Marriott Rancho Cordova. (Dr. Kennedy predicts the ADA fact sheet will be approved 8 to 1). Chet complained that he had spent over a year getting the present version into the condition that it was and felt betrayed by the board in this 11th hour coup. He said the CDA brought in a supposed expert from the National Council Against Health Fraud who has never published anything scientific in the field of mercury who wrote a letter that claimed the Prop 65 statement was false and misleading.

Next up to bat was Shawn Khorrami Esq. Who is the lawyer who successfully sued over the failure of dentists with 10 or more employees to comply with the Prop 65 law. He bristled after Chet's presentation because he said that it was the California Dental Association's desire to reach a negotiated settlement that had brought the wording we have today to the document. The court held three days of hearings and took written testimony to arrive at the wording. CDA did not object to the wording when they agreed to tell their members to comply. Chet did point out that there is a false statement in the Existing Prop 65 warning. The FDA has not approved mixed dental amalgam as the warning states. (Inserted no doubt by the CDA).

Shawn was quite upset that these two faced liars would attempt to reverse the efforts of thousands of people to obtain adequate public notification about mercury released from amalgam by using their fully controlled Dental Board committee. There were some suggestions of legal ramifications to this unethical behavior and at least one lawyer suggested RICO might be applicable. RICO is the omnibus organized crime and racketeering law that pierces many of the defense mechanisms when two or more parties conspire to break the law. When that is the case with state committees, the state will not defend the Board and they are on their own.

Harold Slavkin came next and explained that USC gives out the unapproved fact sheet (Dept of Consumer Affairs didn't approve) to every dental student and patient and has the Prop 65 warning posted in all patient areas for which he was congratulated by Congresswoman . Watson. He stated again, as he had during the November 2002 Dental Board hearing, his profound belief in amalgam safety and his reliance upon the opinion of the alphabet soup of agencies in Washington DC. He did not explain why so many other countries have found that the evidence of amalgam safety is insufficient and lacking.

He repeated the often made claim that there is no evidence of causation which got an immediate response from Shawn. Mr. Khorrami snapped that the Prop 65 law did not require any proof of causation. It only requires disclosure. He explained that it was because of the people's complete distrust of Government and its the many kangaroo committees with unfounded proclamations of safety that Prop 65 was passed. Prop 65 does not allow a risk benefit compromise. It affirmatively requires disclosure so that the public can make up its own mind about safety.

Mr. Parin Shah, Executive Director of San Francisco's Community Toolbox for Children's Environmental Health discussed their effort to prevent further contamination of SF bay by dentist's runoff. Since the wastewater quality board did not have the legal power to ban amalgams they took another tact. The do have the power to regulate and license mercury discharge. They tried unsuccessfully to get the dentists to comply voluntarily with amalgam separators but by September of 2003 less than 1% of the dentists had installed a separator to prevent waste mercury amalgam from entering the waste stream. From there it contaminates the bay, the air and the land. Waste sewer sludge is spread on farm land as fertilizer. From there mercury can re enter the food chain and seep into the subsurface water.

So they took the regulatory route. They simply made the dentists apply for a discharge permit and monthly monitoring. If they put in a separator there was a small fee. If they did not, it cost $1200 for the application and $1000 monthly to monitor. Presto! ! !

78% of the dentists found that they would rather have an amalgam separator than a permit to discharge quantities of mercury in the sewer. They have noted a 90% drop in the amount of mercury in the sewage. I guess that pretty much shows up who is telling the truth about how much mercury dentists are dumping into the environment. The ADA says it is only a little tiny bit and the rest of the world says it is one whole hell of a lot. When asked by Congressman Burton what percentage of the mercury problem at the waste treatment plant can be attributed to dental amalgam he replied 100%. The Congressman accepted the answer as correct. He has previously held hearing regarding the discharge from the Norfolk Naval base where a similar figure was found to be accurate.

I asked Mr. Shah why he had said 100% instead of 90%. He explained that the remaining 10% is coming from human feces of those who have amalgams in their teeth. Skare and Enquist measured about 150 µg per person per day.

Then Dan Burton got somewhat frustrated with Dr. Slavkin and his steadfast defense of amalgam as not a significant source of mercury and asked point blank, "Well how do you explain the smoking teeth we showed in the video at the beginning of this hearing." Dr. Slavkin began by being uncertain about what he had seen in the video and did the marimba into the scientific tango with a little tap dance here and there until he was cut down by Congresswoman Watson's barrage.

Congresswoman Watson had just been released from the hospital and was in no mood for his pseudo scientific shenanigans. She stated as clearly as she could that she was no fool, had been there and seen it all and he had better stop all that scientific mumbo jumbo NOW and start answering her questions. After she was through lamb blasting him (I am sure he noticed) Dan Burton retorted that his remark was uncalled for and that he (Congressman Burton) had been assured by the Chairman of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Kentucky, Dr. Boyd Haley, that the video accurately displayed mercury vapor and that Dr. Haley has consistently measured mercury being released from set dental amalgam. Dr. Slavkin tucked his head beneath his tail and kept very quiet. A technique taught to all dental students when controversy arises. Shut up and act stupid.

The hearing ended on a very positive note with many thanks from Chairman Burton to all who had participated especially Congresswoman Watson for her resurrection from the hospital to come to this hearing. I recognized so many of the people who have struggled so hard for so many years trying to get the dentists to tell the truth in the audience that I can't possibly name them all. It was so good for them to be there and witness how little the mercury advocates have to support their deception. Everyone thanked Anita Tibeau and Charlie Brown for their efforts. I dropped another check into Charlie's pocket to help fund their efforts. You should do the same. Charles Brown, Esq. Consumers For Dental Choice 1725 K , N.W. Suite 511, Washington, DC 20006

My only real regret is that now I can see clearly where this is going to end. My Father and Grandfather were dentists. Through their efforts and thousands of others like them the dental profession has become one of the most respected professions. The ADA accredited dental schools of America do not teach the students the truth. If the Dean Hal Slavkin won't admit the truth when confronted with the pictures, there is not chance in the world that the students will ever even hear about it. None were present at the hearings that I saw. Through the nefarious activities of the ADA and their component societies the mercury cover-up will bring great shame to our noble profession. They lie they cheat they steal the health of vulnerable subsets of the population yet claim in court that they owe no duty of care to the public.

The American Cattle Raisers Association let greed get in the way of good sense. They allowed and lobbied for cattle raisers to continue feeding cows to cows. That action caused one cow in Washington to come down with Mad Cow's Disease and they lost 70 Billion dollars overnight in trade with 17 countries who will no longer buy American beef.

Just as the ADA has been trying to save a sinking ship for way too many years, they too, will someday have to pay the piper. When that day comes the manufacturer of dental amalgam will take the brunt of the blame. Guess who manufactures a mercury silver filling? Is it Johnson and Johnson? Nope. Is it 3M? Nope. They only sell ingredients. Like a cake. They didn't bake the cake and so they are not responsible for how it turns out.

Guess who the cook is in this example? The poor dumb dentist sleep walks through life will someday wake up to find that their liability is hanging way out and there is no one there to give them any sympathy. They let their association do what should not have been done. They did not protect the public. It is their 70 billion dollars of liability that will be lost in a blink. It is sad but true. The once proud profession of healers has degenerated to lobbyists and liars. Too bad and very sad for us few who remain truthful and ethical to be tarnished by the may who are not.

The opinions of David Kennedy, DDS
Email: davidkennedy-dds@cox.net
Phone: (619) 222-8177

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