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Company: Dentsply
Subject: Manufacturing Mercury Fillings Report
Year: 2010
Sector: Health Care Products
Lead Filer: Boston Common Asset Management
Outcome: Withdrawn in response to corporate commitments

Manufacturing Mercury Fillings Report

 

Whereas: 

Dental amalgam is composed of approximately 50% mercury, a reproductive and neurological toxicant. Mercury can be transformed into methylmercury, which bioaccumulates and can adversely affect the nervous system of those who consume fish. In July 2001, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimated that 10 percent of women in the U.S. have levels of mercury in their blood that are high enough to cause neurological effects in their offspring. That implies that each year in the U.S. there are 395,000 babies at risk of neurological effects.

Due to mercury, amalgam filling materials removed from dental patients in the U.S. must be deposited in a hazardous waste container. Mercury is a concern when it also leaves dental offices and enters the environment through uncontrolled releases via dental office wastes, fecal matter, breathing, burial, and cremation.  (http://mpp.cclearn.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/benders-testimony.pdf ) 

Amalgam separators help control releases of mercury but only 10 U.S. states require them. Also, we understand  that many dentists choose not to use amalgam separators. Thus the mercury from amalgams enters municipal waste water systems, is taken into sewage sludge and then may be deposited in landfills, incinerated, or pelletized as fertilizer.  Major environmental groups report dental mercury is the largest source of mercury in the nation's wastewater.

Due to uncontrolled air emissions by crematoria, dental amalgams may also be a major source of mercury air pollution.  It appears reasonable to conclude that most of the mercury from DENTSPLY's amalgam products will eventually reach the natural environment, potentially posing public health concerns.

At the 25th session of the Governing Council of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in 2009, more than 120 nations agreed to work towards legally binding measures to control mercury pollution. Agreement was reached Formal treaty negotiations begin in 2010.

DENTSPLY reports quantities of mercury contained in its products sold in the U.S. Such information is submitted by or on behalf of product manufacturers in compliance with laws in effect since January 2001 in Connecticut, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. Statistics appear to indicate that DENTSPLY reported a 23% decline in total quantity of mercury used for dental amalgams between 2004 and 2007.

RESOLVED: Shareholders request that the Board of Directors issue a report, produced at reasonable cost and excluding proprietary information, by December 31, 2010 on environmental and public health impacts from amalgam that (i) identifies policy options for eliminating releases into the environment of mercury from DENTSPLY products, with a particular focus on air releases, (ii) DENTSPLY's estimate of the amount of mercury from the company's products reaching the natural environment via air, water, and land, and the major pathways by which that mercury is released, such as during amalgam production, from dental office wastes, and from individual  fillings, and (iii) DENTSPLY's anticipated reductions in its production of dental amalgam and the associated reductions in mercury use.

 

 

 

 


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