EU Bans Dental Amalgam Use in Children, Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women

January 19, 2017
Sarah Handzel, BSN, RN

The ban comes after interest groups across Europe called for the discontinuation of the use of mercury-containing amalgams, which have come under increased scrutiny in Europe and the United States.

Three European Union institutions (the European Parliament, European Commission and the Council of the European Union) have agreed to enact a ban on dental amalgam fillings use in children under 15 years old and in pregnant and breastfeeding women. The ban takes effect on July 1, 2018.

The ban comes after interest groups across Europe called for the discontinuation of the use of mercury-containing amalgams, which have come under increased scrutiny in Europe and the United States. The amalgams have been condemned as a risk for “secondary poisoning” by a European Commission scientific advisory board due to its presence in several fish species many people consume.

Currently, Europe is the largest user of dental amalgam globally. Support for the ban came from input from dentists, consumers, and health and environmental non-government organizations.

While the ban on mercury-containing dental amalgams has been adopted by these institutions, it must also be approved by the European Parliament and Council to take full effect. Each member state in the European Union will also be required to develop a national plan for reducing amalgam use. These actions are part of a larger push to implement a plan set forth by the Minamata Convention on Mercury, which recognizes the heavy metal as a danger to human health and the environment.

Representatives from several European interest groups expressed support and enthusiasm for the EU ban on amalgam use. One representative from the Health and Environmental Alliance, Genon Jensen, said, “This partial ban on dental amalgams is excellent news, especially for children’s health. It will not only help protect the health of mothers and children but also contribute to reducing everyone’s environmental exposure to mercury. Several Member States either disallow amalgam use or have already reduced it to less than 10 percent of all dental fillings. We hope each Member State will now take seriously its duty to reduce amalgam use for everyone.”

While support for the EU ban on dental amalgam has taken root in Europe, the United States is also taking steps to limit mercury exposure and reduce the amount of mercury released into the environment. As Dentist’s Money Digest previously reported, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently adopted a new federal regulation requiring dental offices, schools, and clinics to use amalgam separators in their treatment areas. This will help prevent mercury from entering sewage treatment plants, and the amalgam can be collected and recycled.