Mercury is a known hazardous pollutant and toxin, yet typical “silver” amalgam dental fillings are about half mercury (see “Got Mercury,” cover story, May/June 2002). Citing statistics from a recently released Zogby poll, Michael Bender of the Mercury Policy Project argues, “Given that more than 75 percent of Americans don’t know that mercury is the primary metal in amalgam and 90 percent apparently want to be told about the potential risks, it is in the best interest for both our health and the environment that people be informed of their options.”
Dentistry is the third-leading user of mercury in the United States economy and is the largest source of mercury pollution in wastewater. Bender adds that five states have mandated that dentist offices install amalgam separators that keep dental mercury waste out of the environment. If used correctly, 90 percent of the mercury pollution will be eliminated, keeping most of the toxic metal out of the environment.