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‘Good progress’ reported on mercury treaty negotiations

Nairobi, Kenya—Key issues in international mercury treaty negotiations are “related to how the control of mercury products will impact the availability and use of dental amalgam,” ADA observers reported.

As a member organization of the World Dental Federation (FDI) and the International Association of Dental Research (IADR), the ADA sent two staff representatives to the international meeting to join the FDI and IADR non-governmental organization teams in voicing issues and concerns of the U.S. dental profession.

The ADA responded to a tripartite member’s request to the Missouri Dental Association for an update on the recent negotiations, third in a series of five meetings scheduled toward an international mercury accord, advising the MDA that “we continue to make good progress in these negotiations, and there is increased recognition that amalgam is needed for public health.

“The recent WHO (World Health Organization) report has been very influential. That said, just past the midpoint of the negotiations, nothing is settled (in fact, virtually nothing in the entire treaty),” the ADA told the Missouri Dental Association. “The next session is in June, and we will continue to work with the U.S. and the international community on this issue.”

The WHO report said dental restorations “are still needed” but that a “phasing down” instead of “phasing out” of dental amalgam “may be prudent at this stage.”

“The proposed treaty refers to ‘mercury added products’ and lists the top five mercury-added products that collectively account for 80 percent of mercury consumption for all mercury-added products,” the ADA said in the Nov. 11 Leadership Update. “Dental amalgam comes in at number five behind batteries, measuring devices, electric switches and relays and mercury-containing lamps (or light bulbs).

“ADA, working with the FDI and IADR NGO, has expressed the view that any proposed ‘phase-down’ of dental amalgam should be linked to a ‘phase-up’ of dental preventive programs. We have also focused on the safety of dental amalgam, the need for further dental materials research and the proper management of dental amalgam waste, an approach consistent with recent positions taken by the World Health Organization and UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) in the WHO report ‘Future Use of Materials for Dental Restoration’,” the Leadership Update said.

The Leadership Update is distributed each Friday to dental leadership groups including constituent and component executive directors, presidents and president elects; Delegates and Alternates; Council, Commission and Committee members, ADA Officers and Board of Trustees, ADA Consumer Advisor spokespersons, ADA senior staff, dental editors, dental specialty organizations and certifying boards.

See also ADA News 8/16/2010 and 2/22/2011 reports posted at http://www.ada.org/news/4614.aspx and http://www.ada.org/news/5448.aspx.