WHO calls for “phase down” of dental amalgam
At a 2-day United Nations meeting in Geneva, Switzerland in mid-November 2009, 29 experts from 15 countries concluded that the world wide use of dental amalgam results in 180 to 240 tons of mercury being discharged into air, soil and water each year, whilst 80 to 100 metric tons are recycled, sequestered or disposed of securely.
Whilst in the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 3.7 tons of mercury was discharged into the environment from American dental practices, this is trivial compared with the 1500 tons generated by mining and other industries. The committee did not call for a ban on the use of amalgam, commenting that some studies suggest that the rate for posterior composite restorations was greater than that for amalgam and noted that best management practices included bulk mercury collection, chair side traps, amalgam separators, vacuum collecting and commercial waste disposal.
So far, only Norway has completely banned the use of dental amalgam but some other Scandinavian countries have policies to reduce its use.
Report of WHO meeting on Future Use of Materials for Dental Restorations.
Released October 11, 2011