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Company: Danaher Corporation
Subject: Mercury Dental Amalgams
Year: 2012
Sector: Health Care Products
Lead Filer: Mercy Investment Services
Cofiler(s): Catholic Health East, Dominican Sisters of Hope, Trinity Health
Outcome: Withdrawn in response to corporate commitments

Whereas: 

Dental amalgam is composed of approximately 50% mercury, a reproductive and neurological toxicant.   Mercury is a concern when it enters the environment through uncontrolled releases via dental office wastes, fecal matter, breathing, burial, and cremation.[1]  Mercury can be transformed into methylmercury, which bioaccumulates and can adversely affect the nervous system of those who consume fish.[2]

At the 25th session of the Governing Council of the UN Environment Programme in 2009, more than 120 nations agreed to work toward legally binding measures to control mercury pollution and created an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee.    Since then, three INCs have been held in: Sweden, Japan, and Kenya.[3]

In 2011, the World Health Organization released an expert group report[4], which stated that amalgam poses a serious environmental health problem because it releases a "significant amount of mercury" into the environment, including atmosphere, surface water, groundwater, and soil.  It affirmed: "When released from dental amalgam use into the environment through these pathways, mercury is transported globally and deposited.  Mercury releases may then enter the human food chain especially via fish consumption."  

The WHO report recommends "a switch in use of dental materials" away from amalgam, explaining "for many reasons restorative materials alternative to dental amalgam are desirable" and commits itself, urging all health agencies to join them, to "work for reduction of mercury and the development of a healthy environment."  To accomplish this goal, "WHO will facilitate the work for a switch in use of dental materials."

Danaher reports quantities of mercury contained in products sold in the U.S.  Product manufacturers submit such information in compliance with 8 state laws in effect since January 2001. Statistics appear to indicate that Danaher reported a 45% decline in total quantity of mercury used for dental amalgams between 2004 and 2007.  It's expected that 2010 numbers will be made available in 2012 by IMERC, the interstate mercury clearinghouse.[5]

RESOLVED:  Shareholders request that the Board of Directors issue a report, produced at reasonable cost and excluding proprietary information, by October 31, 2012, summarizing Danaher's policies and plans for eliminating releases into the environment of mercury from Danaher products.

Supporting Statement

Shareholders believe such report should include Danaher's: (i) goals for reduction in its production of dental amalgam and associated reductions in mercury use; (ii) annual production and sales on usage of mercury in amalgam globally for the prior year; (iii) projected reduction in usage of mercury for each of the next four years; and (iv) by what date, if any, Danaher projects it will cease production of amalgam.

 


[1] http://mpp.cclearn.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/benders-testimony.pdf

[2] www.epa.gov/ost/criteria/methylmercury/factsheet.html

[3] http://www.unep.org/hazardoussubstances/Mercury/Negotiations/tabid/3320/Default.aspx

[4] http://www.who.int/oral_health/publications/dental_material_2011.pdf

[5] http://newmoa.org/prevention/mercury/imerc/notification/browsecompany.cfm?pid=92


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