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Miscellaneous

EcoWaste Coalition Commends EU’s Decision to Further Ban Dental Amalgam Fillings and Mercury-Added Lamps

Mercury dental amalgam
Samples of mercury dental amalgam fillings sold in stores selling dental supplies in the Philippines

Quezon City. On World Environment Day, the toxics watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition lauded the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union (EU) for taking further action to address the largest remaining intentional use of mercury in the supranational economic and political union of 27 member states. “Mercury-free alternatives have become economically and technically feasible and are readily available,” the EU noted.

On May 22, 2024, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU amended Regulation (EU) 2017/852 on mercury as regards dental amalgam (a mercury-containing filling material used to fill cavities due to tooth decay) and other mercury-added products subject to export, import and manufacturing restrictions.

According to the amended regulation, dental amalgam shall not be used for dental treatment in the EU by January 1, 2025, except when deemed strictly necessary by the dental practitioner based on the specific medical needs of the patient. Current rules already ban the use of dental amalgam for treating teeth in children under 15 years old, and pregnant or breastfeeding women. With the expanded rules, the ban will now cover everyone in the EU starting January 1, 2025. Also, the export of dental amalgam shall be prohibited from January 1, 2025. And from July 1, 2026, the import and manufacturing of dental amalgam shall be prohibited.

The regional bloc further decided to ban six additional mercury-containing lamps from December 2025 and December 2026. The prohibition against the manufacturing, export and import of all other compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), halophosphate phosphor lamps, non-linear halophosphate phosphor lamps, and high pressure sodium (vapor) lamps shall take effect on December 31, 2025, while that of tri-band phosphor lamps and non-linear tri-band phosphor lamps shall become effective on December 31, 2026.

In the Philippines, the Department of Health (DOH) issued Administrative Order No. 2020-0020 phasing out dental amalgam in three years, which ended in May 2023. The said directive also provided for an immediate ban on dental amalgam use in children under the age of 14, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and persons with compromised renal and immune systems in accordance with the precautionary principle.

Mercury-containing fluorescent lamps
Discarded mercury-containing fluorescent lamps in Las Pinas City as documented by the EcoWaste Coalition

As for mercury-containing lamps, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) promulgated Administrative Order No. 2019-20, or the revised Chemical Control Order (CCO) for mercury and its compounds, which established a 2022 phase-out date for several types of mercury-added lamps.

As stated in the EU regulation, “mercury is a chemical of global concern for the environment owing to its long-range atmospheric transport, its persistence following its anthropogenic introduction into the environment and its ability to bioaccumulate in ecosystems,” adding “mercury also has significant negative effects on human health and is passed from mothers to children via the placenta or through breastfeeding.”

“Mercury pollution of the environment can result from anthropogenic activities, including insufficient management of mercury waste, cremation or improper implementation of mandatory separators in dental practices,” the EU noted.

“Crematoria are a significant source of mercury emissions into the atmosphere and, notwithstanding the phase-out of dental amalgam… crematoria will continue to contribute to mercury pollution of air, water, and soil,” the EU said.

“It is necessary to develop guidance on abatement technologies for emissions of mercury and mercury compounds from crematoria,” the regulation said, “in order to achieve appropriate pollution prevention and to mitigate the impact on human health and the environment.”

The updated regulation shall enter into force on the20th day following its publication in the Official Journal of the EU and will apply to all member states.


References:

https://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/PE-53-2024-INIT/en/pdf
https://law.upd.edu.ph/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/DOH-AO-No_2020-0020.pdf
https://chemical.emb.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/DAO201920MERCURY.pdf

EcoWaste Coalition
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