- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 25, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The Washington Times reported that mercury was found in every single fish tested from 291 streams in the country (“Mercury found in every fish,” Washington in 5 minutes, Nation, Thursday). That is no surprise. One of the largest sources of mercury pollution comes from a business that is present in nearly every American city — the dentist’s office.

Nearly half of all American dentists still use a Civil War-era mercury-based material called dental amalgam to fill tooth cavities. It is 50 percent mercury by weight. Most dental offices dispose of amalgam scrap by washing it down the drain. Sewage-treatment plants can’t treat it, so it ends up polluting the water and fish, which is detrimental to those who eat the fish.

Sadly, this pollution is done with the blessing of the federal agencies that are supposed to protect the health of our environment, wildlife and people — the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration.

The EPA has a much-too-cozy relationship with the American Dental Association, a trade association with a vested interest in continuing the use of mercury-based fillings. That cronyism has prompted the EPA to protect the ADA rather than the American public. The Dental Branch of the FDA suffers from an abysmal lack of expertise regarding the damage done by mercury when it is implanted within an inch or two of the human brain. Interestingly, the current FDA commissioner has a conflict of interest on this subject, having just finished about five years on the board of directors of the largest distributor of mercury-containing dental amalgam in the United States.

The National Academy of Sciences reported that more than 600,000 American women of childbearing age have unsafe levels of mercury in their blood, which can make their babies susceptible to learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, problems with coordination, lowered IQs and even mental retardation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that 1 in 6 children in the United States suffers from some sort of neurological illness. These facts are connected. It is obvious to nearly everyone except the staffs of the EPA and FDA that mercury exacerbates neurological illnesses because of its neurotoxic properties and should be kept out of the water and out of the human body.

Here is a suggestion for the Obama administration. You can dramatically bring down health care costs by banning the implantation of mercury, a virulent neurotoxin, in the human mouth. The savings from the prevention of costly life-long debilitating diseases can be enormous.

JOHN ROWE

Oxon Hill

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