EU agrees on a proposal to ban the use of mercury in dental treatments 

On Thursday, the Council and the European Parliament reached an agreement on a proposal to completely phase out mercury in dental amalgam, aligning with the EU’s Zero Pollution Ambition commitments.

Mercury, known for its highly toxic nature and detrimental to both human health and the environment, poses significant risks including damage to the brain, lungs, kidneys, and immune system when exposure levels are high. 

Despite the availability of effective alternatives, approximately 40 tonnes of mercury are still utilized annually in the EU, primarily in dental amalgams.

This isn’t the first time EU bodies have deliberated on eliminating mercury from dental amalgam; as early as 2012, a European Commission study indicated the possibility of commencing a phase-out as of 2018. Subsequent studies in 2020 and a Commission proposal in 2023 shifted the deadline to 2025, a date now agreed upon by co-legislators.

Under the new agreement, the deadline for maximum phase-out is set for January 1, 2025, with exceptions allowed only when dental amalgam is deemed necessary to address specific patient needs. 

In instances where mercury-free alternatives aren’t covered by the current reimbursement system, as seen in countries like the Czech Republic or Slovenia where mercury dental amalgam is fully reimbursed by the public health system, an eighteen-month derogation until June 30, 2026, is envisioned.

The export of dental amalgam will be prohibited starting January 1, 2025, while manufacturing and importing into the EU will face a ban from July 1, 2026.

The Environmental Network for Environmental Medicine (EnvMed Network) recently cautioned in a press release that dental amalgam, comprising 50% highly toxic mercury, remains the largest source of mercury use in the EU, with approximately 1,000 tons already present in the mouths of the European populace.

In the press release, a representative of EnvMed Network noted: “Nearly half of the EU member states have already phased out its use or reduced it to less than 1%. It has been proven that the alternatives are effective, available, and affordable so that hazardous waste shouldn’t be unnecessarily placed into people’s mouths”.

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