Global framework to be adopted for amalgam use

A new convention will address mercury use, including in dental amalgam.
A new convention will address mercury use, including in dental amalgam.

This week will see the adoption of a global framework for the use of dental amalgam containing mercury. The Minamata Convention on Mercury has its origins from agreement by governments to address the environmental impacts of mercury, including its most toxic forms, by agreeing on a global convention covering emissions and releases.

“Both within Australia and internationally, the dental industry recognizes that dental amalgam is a significant source of mercury pollution. For this reason, ADIA is pleased to support the convention which permits the ongoing use of dental amalgam containing mercury, with a view to phasing-down use over the long term,” says Troy Williams, ADIA chief executive officer.

With respect to the use of dental amalgam, national governments are obligated to give effect to two or more of nine policy responses having regard for domestic circumstances and relevant international guidance. These measures include promoting the use of cost-effective and clinically effective mercury-free alternatives for dental restoration in addition to encouraging insurance policies and programs that favour the use of quality alternatives to dental amalgam for dental restoration.

“The leadership of the dental industry will be vital to achieve other policy responses such as promoting research and development of quality mercury-free materials for dental restoration,” says Mr Williams.

Significantly, one option to give effect to the convention is for government to set national objectives aimed at dental caries prevention and health promotion, thereby minimizing the need for dental restoration.

“In many respects, the Australian experience provides a model for other nations to follow. The dental industry and dental professionals have a shared understanding and ownership of measures that are a practical application of the convention’s outcomes,” Mr Williams says.

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