Public Has Submitted More than 100 Comments to the Board Demanding that It Enforce Maine’s Amalgam Fact Sheet Law
Katherine Paul, Organic Consumers Ass’n, firstname.lastname@example.org; 207.653.3090
Tracy Gregoire, Learning Disabilities Ass’n of Maine, tracy@LDAAmerica.org, 207.504.2556
Charles Brown, Consumers for Dental Choice, email@example.com, 202.544.6333
Michael Bender, Mercury Policy Project, firstname.lastname@example.org, 802.917.8222
AUGUSTA, Maine – November 8, 2019 - At a public hearing today, the Maine Board of Dental Practice will hear testimony from advocacy groups and members of the public who want the board to enforce a state law that requires dentists who still use amalgam fillings to give every patient a specific fact sheet—before installing the filling. The fact sheet, written by the Maine Department of Health, makes it clear that amalgam fillings are primarily mercury, that mercury is a major pollutant and that non-toxic alternatives are available.
The Maine Board of Dental Practice, after being petitioned by several organizations, has finally included a rule on dental amalgam informed consent in proposed updates to the board’s Practice Requirements (Chapter 12, section III).
However, the rule as stated has several flaws. It does not require dental providers to use the fact sheet “The Choices You Have – Mercury Amalgam and Other Filling Materials” that has been required by Maine law since 2001. The rule also neglects to state that the dental provider is required to get the patient’s (or guardian’s) signature, and place that form in the patient’s file as proof of disclosure of the mercury in dental amalgam. Because the goal of updating these rules for dental providers is to be clear on requirements and to have all the information in one place, these instructions are essential to compliance with the 2001 law.
The public has submitted well over 100 public comments to the board in advance of today’s hearing, an extraordinary amount for a small and generally unnoticed state board.
“Parents of children with disabilities often go to great lengths to avoid exposing their children to neurotoxins,” said Tracy Gregoire, with the Learning Disabilities Association of Maine. “But parents can only avoid toxins if they are provided with the information, and we have heard from families that they have not been given the fact sheet on amalgam, which has been state law for almost 20 years. Mercury is a such a major toxin that it is the subject of an international treaty. By failing to enforce the Maine fact sheet law, the Maine Board of Dental Practice allows amalgam-using dentists to withhold the fact that amalgam is mainly mercury, and that non-mercury alternatives are available.”
“We Mainers have the right to know about the health and environmental risks of amalgam’s mercury,” said Katherine Paul, Organic Consumers Association. “Dental mercury does methylate and can hence poison our fish and vegetables. Consumers would choose mercury-free dentistry if the mercury in amalgam were not hidden from them. And this mercury is hidden because the Maine dental board will not enforce the fact sheet law.”
“The Maine Board of Dental Practice is so overboard in protecting amalgam use in dentistry, and its policies have so injured Maine consumers and Maine mercury-free dentists, that we filed a petition to the Federal Trade Commission seeking an antitrust investigation,” said Charles G. Brown, Consumers for Dental Choice.
“The risk from mercury exposure is so severe that a new treaty has been ratified to address the global mercury crisis by over 100 nations, including the U.S.,” said Michael Bender, Mercury Policy Project. “The Minamata Convention on Mercury mandates the phasedown in amalgam use. It’s time for the Maine dental board to recognize the risks from dental amalgam and, since there are viable mercury-free alternatives, discourage and eventually prohibit its use.”
“Failure to disclose that amalgam is fifty percent mercury, and that non-mercury alternatives are available, is a major medical disserve to dental patients,” said Mark Mitchell, M.D., M.P.H., National Medical Association. “We urge the Maine Board of Dental Practice to write a regulation which confirms that every dentist who continues to place amalgam must give every patient, or the patient’s parent or guardian, the official Department of Health fact sheet.”
“I was one of the many citizens who helped persuade the Legislature to adopt the Maine fact sheet law, and one of a few honored to witness Governor Angus King signing the bill into law,” said Rosemary Fecteau, Ph.D., citizen activist. “The dental board has gutted this law by choosing not to enforce it. I have thus returned to Augusta to insist that the law be enforced.”
“Mercury is a dangerous environmental neurotoxin and one of the largest uses of it is in dentistry, despite the fact that there are safe and effective alternatives. Once released, mercury is a persistent bioaccumulative chemical, it does not break down and remains in our environment for decades,” said Sarah Woodbury, State Advocacy Director for the Environmental Health Strategy Center. “We must have strong rules in place that provide patients with all the necessary information needed to understand the dangers of mercury as it relates to their health and the health of the environment.”
Last month, Consumers for Dental Choice, Organic Consumers Association and Mercury Policy Project petitioned the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate the Maine Board of Dental Practice for antitrust violations related to the board’s refusal to enforce the law.
Learning Disabilities Association of Maine (LDA) provides support to people with learning disabilities, their parents, teachers and other professionals with cutting edge information on learning disabilities, practical solutions and a comprehensive network of resources.
Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is a national 501(c)(3) consumer and environmental health advocacy organization representing more than 2 million consumers in the U.S. and Mexico.
Consumers for Dental Choice (CDC) is a non-profit organization that aims to inform the public about the dangers of mercury fillings and amalgam fillings.
The Mercury Policy Project (MPP) works to promote policies to eliminate mercury uses, reduce the export and trafficking of mercury, and significantly reduce mercury exposures at the local, national, and international levels.
The National Medical Association (NMA) is a 501(c) (3) national professional and scientific organization representing the interests of more than 50,000 African American physicians and the patients they serve.
The Environmental Health Strategy Center works for a world where all people are healthy and thriving, with equal access to safe food and drinking water, and products that are toxic-free and climate-friendly.