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Some disturbing mass media reports on silver filings have been inaccurate.  The following articles (the first from Time Magazine and the second from Fox News) are an exception: they are so well written they have been included here for your review.

For more information on silver fillings click here.

Report by a Time Magazine Columnist

The following information is taken from Time Magazine's Website.  Click here to see it there.

There's Nothing Dangerous About 'Silver' Fillings
But some in Congress continue to insist there is
 

Wednesday, May. 08, 2002

Diane Watson has had a distinguished career in education and politics, and last year was elected to the House of Representatives, winning 75 percent of the vote in her Congressional district. Representative Watson is also convinced that the mercury in the "silver" (really amalgam) fillings used by dentists around the world is hazardous to the health of everyone with such fillings, afflicting them with a wide variety of illnesses.

Indeed, Watson is so convinced that this April she introduced a bill (H.R. 4163) that, after 2006, would prohibit any interstate commerce of mercury intended for use in dental fillings. The bill would also require, beginning as early as this July, that mercury intended for use in amalgam be labeled "Dental amalgam contains approximately 50 percent mercury, a highly toxic element. Such product should not be administered to children less than 18 years of age, pregnant women or lactating women."

Watson is no dummy. Before entering Congress, she was U.S. Ambassador to Micronesia, served for 20 years as a California state senator, was several times named "Legislator of the Year" by the State Bar of California and has a extensive background as an educator. Yet there's that amalgam hang-up.

While still a state senator, Watson got the California legislature to pass a law that required the state dental board to issue a document evaluating dental materials and focusing specifically on the risks of amalgam. The resulting dental board document conceded that "small amounts of free mercury may be released from amalgam filings over time," but that they were "far below the established safe levels."

That apparently wasn't enough to discourage Watson, who like too many other members of Congress is, to put it kindly, scientifically unsophisticated. The mercury in amalgam, it turns out, is not free, but mixed with silver, tin and copper, metals to which it bonds chemically to form a crystalline metallic ó and safe ó alloy. An obvious analogy, says Dr. Robert Baratz, president of the National Council against Health Fraud, can be made with water, a chemical combination of hydrogen, a gas that can explode, and oxygen, which supports combustion. Yet, like those in water, amalgam's components are tightly bonded to each other. "Saying that amalgam will poison you," Baratz insists, "is like saying that drinking water will make you explode and burst into flames."

.His view is supported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which reported that "there is scant evidence that the health of a vast majority of people with amalgam is compromised" and the American Dental Association, which concluded that "there currently appears to be no justification for discontinuing the use of dental amalgam."

Then where does Watson get her information? Apparently from a small, but vocal, minority of dentists, many of who also decry fluoridation of water and make questionable use of "mercury meters" and voltmeters to convince patients with amalgam fillings that they are at risk. They advocate the removal of existing amalgam fillings ó a procedure that could undoubtedly bring them many new patients and enhance their business. Watson, and others, may also have been influenced by an irresponsible "60 Minutes" telecast in 1990. Entitled "Poison in Your Mouth," it gave a respectful and misleading hearing to the anti-amalgam crowd.

Perhaps the most influential and leading anti-amalgamist was a Colorado dentist named Hal Huggins, who assailed amalgam fillings in a 1985 book entitled "It's All in Your Head," promoted his views in seminars, private consultations and through his Toxic Element Research Foundation. Huggins blamed the mercury in amalgam for a wide variety of illnesses, ranging from depression to epilepsy to Hodgkin's disease and was a pioneer in recommending the removal of all amalgam fillings. For all of Huggins's energy and efforts, his dental license was revoked in 1996, the administrative law judge concluding that he had diagnosed "mercury toxicity" in all his patients, including some without amalgam fillings.

C'mon, Representative Watson. Being associated with the likes of Huggins and his followers can only tarnish what has been an otherwise worthy career. Get over your amalgam hang-up and learn not to be taken in by quacks.

Similar Report from Fox News 

  Mercury Ban Promotes Lawsuits, Not Health
Friday, May 10, 2002
By Steven Milloy

Junk science has united quite the political odd couple - Reps. Diane Watson, D-Calif., and Dan Burton, R-Ind. They recently co-sponsored a bill to end the use of mercury in dental fillings.

The bill would: ban dental amalgam containing mercury from children under 18 and pregnant and lactating women; require dentists to warn patients that mercury is "highly toxic" and poses "health risks"; and phase out mercury amalgam by 2007.

Rep. Watson, a Congressional Black Caucus member from Watts who claims to be "chemically sensitive," has targeted mercury-containing dental amalgam since CBSí 60 Minutes spotlighted the scare in December 1990.

Rep. Burton, the anti-Clinton lightning rod, only recently converted to anti-mercury-ism. Burton blames thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative used in vaccines, for causing his grandsonís autism.

Also in on the mercury scare are - who else - unscrupulous personal injury lawyers. Class action lawsuits have been filed against the American Dental Association and the California and Maryland state dental associations seeking the return of monies paid for mercury-containing fillings - the great majority of fillings ever done.

Lawsuits alleging thimerosal causes autism also have been filed against vaccine manufacturers.

As to mercury in dental fillings, the lawsuits are among the best evidence that mercury in amalgam is harmless. Though the complaints allege that mercury-containing amalgam is harmful, they contain no specific allegations of harm to anyone.

This is hardly surprising.

Mercury has been a major ingredient of dental amalgam (35-42 percent) for more than 150 years. No other filling material has been proven to be safer, more durable and more cost-effective.

The National Institutes of Health reports only about 100 documented cases of allergy to mercury mentioned in the scientific literature since 1906 - despite billions of uses of mercury amalgam and tens of millions more of thimerosal-containing vaccines.

Mercury can have toxic effects on the nervous system - but only at sufficiently high exposures. As is the basic rule in toxicology, it is the dose that makes the poison. Paracelsus, the father of this principle, successfully used this principle - and mercury - to treat syphilis in the 16th century.

Fillings containing mercury typically emit about 1-3 millionths of a gram (micrograms) per day. An individual might be unavoidably exposed to another 5-6 micrograms of mercury through food, water and air. Such exposures are well below the World Health Organizationís "acceptable daily intake" for mercury, about 30 micrograms per day.

Keep in mind that the ADI is not a "safety" level; itís a level set by regulatory agencies that is anywhere from tens to thousands of times below dose levels reported to cause biological effects in animal experiments. The ADI is set well below effect levels to provide a wide margin of safety for potential exposures.

Amalgam expert Dr. Rod Mackert says even the most sensitive individual would need about 450 fillings before exhibiting even slight symptoms of mercury toxicity.

Finally, even the hyper-cautious Food and Drug Administration concluded in March, 2002, that "No valid scientific evidence has ever shown that amalgams cause harm to patients with dental restorations, except in the rare case of allergy."

But why let a lack of factual support get in the way of a feel-good law and a chance at the lawsuit jackpot?

Rep. Burtonís anti-mercury rationale and the vaccine-related lawsuits are similarly deficient.

Itís true many children may have been exposed to relatively high levels of mercury through vaccines preserved with thimerosal. Even so, thereís no evidence these exposures harmed any child - a point reaffirmed by FDA researchers in a May 2001 article in the journal Pediatrics.

Moreover, no one knows what causes autism. A National Institutes of Health working group concluded in 1995 that autism likely was mostly genetic in origin. No evidence indicates that late-pregnancy or after-birth events - including extensively studied mass mercury poisonings - are associated with autism.

Burtonís desperate rush to blame an after-birth event for causing autism isnít unusual.

Autistic behavior becomes apparent as children progress from saying a few words to generating more complex language, at ages of 16-36 months. Parents whose children "turn" autistic often erroneously associate the onset of autistic behavior with some contemporaneous event such as vaccination.

But public alarm about vaccine safety can be a public health problem. Outbreaks of measles, for example, occurred in the U.K. and Ireland where many worried parents shunned the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine.

Instead of filling our minds with fear and the U.S. Code with needless laws (and our courtrooms with meritless lawsuits), Reps. Watson and Burton and the personal injury lawyers should fill themselves, as appropriate, with facts and scruples.

Steven Milloy is the publisher of JunkScience.com , an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute and the author of Junk Science Judo: Self-defense Against Health Scares and Scams (Cato Institute, 2001).

To read this article on the Fox News web site click here.

For more information on silver fillings click here.

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