Nonprofit Groups, State Officials, Sue FDA To Ban Mercury Fillings

Press Releases: 04.27.06

For further information, contact:
Charles Brown, national counsel, Consumers for Dental Choice 202.544-6333
Robert Reeves, co-counsel, Lexington KY 859.226-0700

April 27, 2006 -- Four nonprofit groups and two state officials have sued the US Food and Drug Administration to seek a ban on mercury amalgam. Mercury amalgam is also known, incorrectly, as “silver” fillings. Moms Against Mercury v. Leavitt , before the United States Court of Appeals, Washington; ( )

“We seek this ban on amalgam because FDA violates its duty to require proof of safety of this mercury product for pregnant women and children,” says Charles G. Brown, National Counsel, Consumers for Dental Choice, ; “In addition, FDA illegally refuses to do an Environmental Impact Statement on this, the largest source of mercury in America’s wastewater.”

FDA, like all federal agencies must first consider the environmental impact before allowing a product to be sold. It must consider both the environmental harm – which for mercury fillings is colossal – and alternatives. In this case, alternative nontoxic materials do exist for any type of cavity. Modern dentists no longer use mercury fillings.

Today, too, Congresswoman Diane Watson (D-Calif.) and Congressman Dan Burton (R-Ind.) presented HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt with a letter calling for an investigation of FDA on these grounds. (Contact: Bert Hammond, press secretary to Congresswoman Watson, 202.225-7084.)

FDA has a duty to classify all implants, such as dental fillings, under one of three classes. FDA has classified all other dental materials, but refuses to classify dental amalgam. FDA officials, who are known for working too closely with the American Dental Association, the prime supporter of this material, are aware that to classify will mean the filling must be proved safe. Since it is 50% mercury, that task is well-nigh impossible.

Instead, FDA has used a sleight-of-hand to keep amalgam capsules legal – calling it “substantial equivalent” to a non-mercury material that is not a capsule. FDA officials well know the two are not equivalent.

Petitioners are a veritable “dream team”:

  • Four nonprofit groups whose mission varies from protection of children (Moms Against Mercury) and protection of unborn babies (Oregonians for Life) -- to environmental justice (CT Coalition for Environmental Justice) -- to consumer protection (CA Citizens for Health Freedom).
  • Two important state officials, Senator Karen Johnson of Arizona and Dental Board Member Kevin Biggers of California;
  • Victim advocates from Illinois ( Linda Brocato) and California/Brazil (Anita Vazquez Tibau); and
  • A California dentist who has led fight against mercury (Dr. Andy Landerman).
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