The toxicity of mercury, comprising in liquid form half of conventional dental fillings which are popularly known as “silver amalgam”, has fatal consequences on the human body and environment, said a Washington-based leading campaigner yesterday.
“Mercury is the most toxic and most volatile heavy metal that stays accumulated in the human body once permeated and leaves a lethal damage on brain and kidneys,” said Charlie Brown, founder of World Alliance for Mercury Free Dentistry (WAMFD).
It also causes loss of memory, hearing and eyesight and poses the risk of paralysis, tooth fracture, insomnia, damage to reproductive health and lungs, miscarriage and congenital disorders.
Charlie was giving an interview to The Daily Star after a press conference on mercury-free dentistry in a restaurant in the capital organised jointly by the WAMFD, Asian Centre for Environmental Health, and Environment and Social Development Organization (ESDO).
The conventional amalgam comprises heavy metals like liquid mercury, zinc, tin and copper, he said, adding that better alternatives are composite resins made of gummy materials, glass and plastic ionomer and gold foil.
Bangladesh as a plain land crisscrossed by many rivers remains extremely vulnerable to mercury contamination with uncontrolled dumping of mercury along with medical and industrial wastes into the waters and soil, he said, exposed to heat, mercury vapours contaminate the air too.
Burning coal, consumption of large fish, dumping of untreated electronic waste and use in heavy industries like cement and medical apparatus cause mercury contamination in the environment.
He stressed public awareness, implementing global Minamata (Japan) treaty on controlling mercury, updating the dental school curriculum and putting an end to using the amalgam, particularly among children and pregnant women, as measures to phase in mercury-free dentistry in a country like Bangladesh.
Charlie, elected Virginia's attorney general twice, resorted to legal battles to compel the State Dental Boards, American Dental Association, and the US Food and Drug Administration to help the campaign against use of mercury.
WAMFD Vice-President Dr Shariar Hossain said sometimes illness related to mercury contamination was also treated as epilepsy in Bangladesh, seriously harming the patient.
ESDO Chairperson Sayed Marghub Murshed and Shahiduzzaman, editor of News Network, were present.