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Company: Danaher Corporation
Subject: Mercury Dental Amalgams
Year: 2010
Sector: Health Care Products
Lead Filer: Mercy Investment Program
Cofiler(s): Dominican Sisters of Hope
Outcome: Omitted, per SEC, on procedural grounds

                Manufacturing Mercury Fillings Report

 

Whereas: 

Dental amalgam is a pre-Civil War device composed of approximately 50% mercury, a virulent reproductive toxicant and neurological toxicant.  In 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration advised, "Dental amalgams contain mercury, which may have neurotoxic effects on the nervous systems of developing children and fetuses."  FDA reaffirmed this risk recently stating, “The developing neurological systems in fetuses and young children may be more sensitive to the neurotoxic effects of mercury vapor.”  (http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/DeviceRegulationandGuidanceDocuments/ucm073311.htm)  

Due to mercury, amalgam arrives at dentist offices with a skull-and-crossbones label and removed fillings must be deposited in a hazardous waste container. 

However, mercury 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 may help catch spills but only 10 states require them. Also, we understand  many dentists choose not to use amalgam separators.  Thus mercury amalgam enters municipal sewage systems, is processed into sewage sludge and then may be 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 Danaher's amalgam products will eventually reach the natural environment.

As the most vaporous heavy metal, mercury vapors, in the opinion of many experts, are a clear danger to dental workers and their unborn children.  Danaher is at risk in states permitting employees to sue those who put toxicants in the workplace.

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

In November, 2009 a UN World Health Organization-convened international expert group supported “phase down” of dental mercury use worldwide in order to reduce environmental releases.  They encouraged manufacturers to develop mercury-free alternatives so materials can be used in many countries and settings and to offer low cost options.  Further, they suggested manufacturers join the UNEP global partnership on dental mercury.

Danaher reports quantities of mercury contained in its products sold in the U.S. to the Interstate Mercury Education and Reduction Clearinghouse via the Northeast Waste Management Officials' Association.  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 Danaher reported a 45% 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 on all environmental pathways by which mercury gets into the environment from dental amalgams, produced at reasonable cost and excluding proprietary information, not later than December 31, 2011, identifying policy options for eliminating release into the environment of mercury from Danaher products.

 


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