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Amalgam debate..

Joel M. Eichen joele at earthlink.net
Tue Aug 3 18:15:52 EST 1999

pcsol at del.this.co.uk wrote:

>This is my reply to an EMAIL on the Amalgam issue -
>any takers?

>Remember main group for reply:  alt.health.dental-amalgam

>R wrote:
>> >
>> >
>> > > My advice to you is this:
>> > > 1) Don't confuse elemental mercury with mercury amalgam.   Elemental
>> > >     mercury is toxic; amalgam is not.  Can amalgams leak elemental
>> > >     mercury?   Yes, they can, but the leakage is so minute that the
>> > > danger
>> > >     is non-existent.   Pseudo-scientific claims to the contrary have
>> > > usually
>> > >     been based on faulty use of mercury detection instruments.
>> >
>> > the WHO would beg to differ, placing Amalgam as #1 source for
>> > mercury on average..
>> I've been around the block on this claim many times over the past
>> thirteen years.  So far I haven't seen a single documented claim that
>> wasn't based on faulty analysis.   And sad to say, the proponents of

>Nonsense. Ive "been round the block" too. 

I have not been around the block. But right now, I am GOING around the



>Originally the ADA/dental
>claimed that *no* mercury leaked from Amalgam - it was such research
>compelled them more recently to accept that *some* mercury leaks 
>- they have changed their line to "ok, but only a little".
>This implies that the ADA accept research that you dismiss as

>Svare et al., "The Effect of dental amalgams on Hg levels in expired
>air", Journal of dental research (1981) - The first paper to establish
>unequivocally that Hg comes out of amalgams.

>> amalgam toxicity claims continue to cite such documents even when
>> it's been shown that the respective researches used equipment and/or
>> methods that simply aren't valid.    If there's been something new
>> published in the past few years, I'd appreciate citations.  I'll check

>Much research nowadays is "politicised" - ie. Research
>by the dental industry tends to come out with low figures, whereas 
>research from independant toxicologists (and yes, of course "anti
>amalgamists") tends to produce higher figures..

>> them out when I have time and send you my comments.   Please note
>> that I'm asking you for COMPLETE documentation which details
>> the precise methods and instruments used to develop raw data.  And
>> also a description of the statistical analysis used to arrive at conclusions
>> like the one below:

>> > World Health Organization Figures (World Health Organization,
>> > Environmental Health Criteria 118: Inorganic Mercury, Geneva, 1991.)
>> > The World Health Organization has calculated the average human
>> > daily dose of mercury from various sources is:
>> > Dental amalgam = 3.0-17.0 ug/day (Hg vapor)
>> > Fish and Seafood = 2.3 ug/day (methylmercury)
>> > Other food = 0.3 ug/day(inorganic Hg)
>> > Air & Water = Negligible traces   (NOTE ug = Micrograms)

>Ok, the above was based on an "average" analysis of available
>peer-reviewed research data.

>> > > 2) While decrying amalgam as a restorative substance, you better take a
>> > >      look at the alternatives.  Acrylic composites are known
>> > > pulp-killers and
>> > >      the practice of replacing amalgam with composite usually culminates
>> > >
>> > >      in a root canal procedure  and crownwork if not extraction and
>> > > dentures.

>Whenever someone trots out the "composites are bad too" line,
>I smell a rat. So what? The primary question is whether Amalgam
>is safe, not whether composites are safe. 
>Anyway, research data indicates that any volatile hydrocarbon
>type toxins that Composites might leak are toxic at 
>(broadly) milligram levels, rather than microgram levels
>that Mercury dangerous at. Furthermore any such compounds
>that do come out drop rapidly in level one they "set",
>within a day or so. Conversly Amalgams leak Mercury slowly
>over a very long time - and Mercury is a cumulative toxin.
>Remember that Mercury is the most toxic non-radioactive element 
>known to man. Toxicologists have long regarded it as particularly 
>dangerous  because its effects at low-levels are so insidious & 
>hard to detect.

>> > My own & most of the other people I directly know who have gone down
>> > this
>> > path have not had problems, above what you might expect - after all,
>> > rotten
>> > teeth are rotten teeth, Amalgam or not..
>> No, "rotten" teeth aren't necessarily rotten teeth.   Amalgam restorations
>> often last several decades without complications, and they can be easily
>> replaced by another amalgam restoration which could easily last another
>> two decades.  By contrast, acrylic composites have an extremely short
>> life expectancy on occlusal surfaces.   Owing to their high coefficient of
>> expansion, a large composite restoration can create stresses within a
>> tooth that cause minute (harmful) cracks.   And the base resins used
>> *often* cause pulpal problems leading to endodontics and/or extraction.
>> This is well documented in the endodontic literature.

>Amalgam is indeed an "easy" material to work with, demanding
>low skill levels for tolerable results. By contrast Composites
>and other materials are "technique sensitive" - more time &
>skill is required for good placement - *particularly* in
>a tooth that once contained Amalgam because so much of the 
>tooth needs to be removed to form a plug for the Amalgam.
>Also the presence of Hg ions has the short term local effect 
>of killing off bacteria - however that poses immediate
>questions about systemic effects of those same ions..

>> > This is mud that is easy to sling, but proves nothing.
>> > Some of the "Anti amalgamists" are top notch scientists (WHO
>> > consultants, etc) with a good solid scientific history before they took
>> > up sides the Amalgam issue.
>> Name a few.

>There are many research papers that indicate (directly or indirectly)
>Amalgam could be harmful - often published by scientists who
>do not regard themselves as be "anti amalgam" at all.
>But if you want a few names..
>Vimy and Lorscheider, "Evaluation of the safety issue of Hg release
>from dental fillings", FASEB Journal (1993)

>Nylander and Berglund, "Does Hg from amalgam restorations constitute
>a health hazard?", Science of the Total Environment (1990)

>Goerging, Galloway, Clarkson, Lorscheider, Berlin and Rowland,
>"Toxicity Assessment of Hg Vapor from Dental Amalgams", Fundemental
>and Appled Toxicology (1992)

>Clarkson and Friberg, Biological monitoring of Toxic Metals (Plenum
>Press 1988)

>Svare et al., "The Effect of dental amalgams on Hg levels in expired
>air", Journal of dental research (1981) - The first paper to establish
>unequivocally that Hg comes out of amalgams.

>Vimy and Lorscheider, "Whole-body imaging of the distribution of Hg
>released from dental fillings into monkey tissues", FASEB Journal 

>Vasken Aposhian, "Urinary Hg after administration of 2,3-
>dimercaptopropane-1-sulfonic acid (DMSA): correlation with dental
>amalgam", FASEB Journal (1992)

>Friberg and Nylander, "Hg Concentrations in the human brain and
>kidneys in relation to exposure from dental amalgam fillings",
>Swedish Dental Journal (1987)

>Woods and Echeverria, "Urinary porphyrin profiles as a biomarker of Hg
>exposure: studies on dentists with occupational exposure to Hg",
>Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health (1993)

>Vimy and Lorscheider, "Mercury from dental "silver" tooth Eillings
>impairs sheep kidney Eunction", (1991)

>Eggleston and Nylander, "Correlation of dental amalgam with Hg in
>Brain tissue", Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry (1987)

>David Eggleston, "Effect of dental amalgam and nickel alloys on
>T-lymphocytes: Preliminary report", Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry 

>Summers, Vimy and Lorscheider, "Hg released from dental "silver"
>fillings provokes an increase in Hg and antibiotic-resistant bacteria
>in oral and intestinal flora of primates", Antimicrobial Agents and
>Chemotherapy (1993)

>Vimy and Lorscheider, "Maternal-fetal distribution of Hg released from
>dental amalgam fillings", (1990)

>Gustav Drasch, "Hg burden of human fetal and infant tissues",
>European Journal of Paediatrics (1994)

>Fritz Lorscheider, `ADP-ribosylation of brain neuronal proteins is
>altered by in vitro and in vivo exposure to inorganic Hg",
>Journal of Neurochemistry (1994)

>Markesbery and Ehmann, "Trace element imbalances in isolated
>subcellular fractions of Alzheimer's diseased brains", Brain Research

>Markesbery and Ehmann, "Regional brain trace element studies in
>Alzheimer's disease neurotoxicology", (1988)

>Boyd Haley, "HgEDTA complex inhibits GTP interactions with the E-site
>of brain beta-tubulin", Journal of Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology

>> >
>> > The evidence is there - but unfortunately the dental
>> > industry has learnt lessons from other industrys with similar problems
>> > (tobacco,asbestos,GM foods, etc) and is rather good at spewing out
>> > rhetoric similar to that above.
>> Exactly the opposite.  The anti-amalgam quackery rose to a fevor pitch
>> in the USA in the 80's before consumer agencies finally took action.  The
>> publishers of "Consumer Reports" in the USA was instrumental in

>Is this the same consumer reports that told us 10 years ago
>"passive smoking was harmless", and later reversed that position?
>They should stick to evaluating fridges..

>> getting officials to examine the scam long before the ADA got involved.
>> The ADA was reluctant to speak out on the issue because of political

>This is utter rubbish. The ADA have been unequivocal in 
>attacking virtually *anyone* (credible scientist or otherwise)
>who dares to question Amalgam safty - right from in inception
>in the 19th century, through the debates in the 30's, right up
>to date. By the way, the average daily release figures calculated
>by Dr Stock (10ug/Hg vapour day for a mouth full of Amalgam)
>were broadly backed up by later research (see WHO figures above).
>This is amazing given the primitive nature of the equiptment
>he used. 
>At the time, Stock was vilified by the ADA for daring
>to suggest *any* mercury at all leaks from Amalgam.
>They have never apologised to him.

>> fears.   A lawsuit brought by a notorious quack named Hal Huggins
>> seeking ADA sponsorship for a bogus treatment program was the "last
>> straw", so to speak, and prompted the ADA to get involved.   It's worth
>> mentioning, however, that most of the effective actions against anti-
>> amalgam quackery have been waged by attorneys and government

>In my view Huggins hurt the "anti amalgam" movement by trying
>to make money out of his "discovery" that Amalgam could 
>be dangerous, and thus gave the dental industry a "get out" 
>- they can now accuse *any* scientist (however credible they
>previously were) who happens to question amalgam safety of 
>It is interesting to note that one of the original usages
>of the term "quack" was to attack the first dentists who 
>used mercury in fillings in the early 19th century by 
>the (then mercury-free) dental association of the time.
>Doctors regarded these upstart dentists as reckless 
>for implanting a known dangerous toxin, Mercury, in teeth.

>> regulators without much assistance from the ADA.   At one point in
>> the 80's it was estimated by roughly 30-50% of dentists in the USA
>> were using the amalgam scam to literally "scare up" business that
>> was unnecessary or poorly advised from the standpoint of their
>> patients' health.

>How much has the ADA and it members made from implanting 
>countless tons of mercury in peoples teeth? How much 
>money does the dental industry stand to loose if it is
>ever proven that Amalgam is dangerous?

>> > Arguments should be grounded on facts..
>> Agreed.  Facts and not fallacies.
>> > "[The evidence] tells me very succinctly that there is a
>> > chronic low-dose exposure to a toxic heavy metal that 80-85 per
>> > cent of the industrialised world have implanted in their teeth,
>> > and it's a situation of timed-release poisoning."
>> >   (Dr Murray Vimy, research scientist and former World
>> >   Health Organisation consultant, speaking on BBC Panorama..)
>> I've examined all of Vimy's papers published prior to 1995 or
>> thereabouts and everyone of them was flawed.   If memory serves
>> you'll find an analysis of these flaws in papers by Dr. John Dodes.
>> Sorry, I don't have citations handy but they turn up readily in
>> bibliographic searches.

>I do remember reading an good analysis of Dodes rather 
>pathetic critique - by Dagfinn maybe - perhaps someone else could drag
>out from the AMALGAM archives & post it here?

>> > "..I think there is no basis for such a statement... [that
>> > amalgam is safe to use for children].... They are definitely
>> > particularly vulnerable. We know that if you take a young
>> > child - it takes a few years after birth until the brain
>> > is developed. We know that the brain in children is much
>> > more sensitive than in adults."
>> >   (Dr Lars Friberg, Former Chief Adviser to the World
>> >   Health Organisation on Mercury safety. speaking on BBC Panorama..)
>> Great.   We can agree that children have sensitive brains.

>Friberg was for a long time "impartial" on the Amalgam issue,
>and his textbooks on toxicology of Mercury were/are regarded
>as "standards" - he was/is a very highly regarded Toxicologist.
>It is worth noting there is no record of critisism of him 
>by the dental industry prior to his later stance on Amalgam.
>When someone of his experience sticks his neck out this far,
>people should take note.

>> > "..there is no safe level of mercury,
>> > and no one has
>> > actually shown that there is a safe level. I would say
>> > mercury is a very toxic substance... I think they
>> > [the BDA] are wrong.. [to make such a claim]"
>> >   (Dr Lars Friberg, speaking on BBC Panorama..)
>> Wrong.   Safe levels can easily be established by looking at the
>> epidemiological evidence.

>It is quite clear from the quote that he means
>that we do not know how low we have do go before
>we say "this level is safe", and the BDAs claim
>to the contrary is wrong. 
>Bear in mind too his first language is Swedish..
>> > "My own conclusion is that already in individuals with bruxism,
>> > [bruxism is habitual grinding of teeth]
>> > which is common in the population, exposure may well be compared
>> > with industrial exposure that has given rise to effects. Furthermore,
>> > despite negative results in epidemiological studies, the statistical
>> > power [of these studies] is not high enough to exclude the occurrence
>> > of effects in a few percent of the population at still lower
>> > exposure levels.
>> In other words, he doesn't have any evidence to support his claim.

>Of course he has evidence, otherwise he would not be 
>saying it. He is saying *epidemiological* evidence is lacking
>- but that is true *both* ways..

>> Modern science is based on the concept of the null hypothesis.  In
>> essence, we expect to see proof that a given claim is true before we
>> accept its validity.   By contrast, this individual has asserted a claim
>> without evidence and is faulting science for failing to prove that
>> his claim is true.   We have lots of anecdotal evidence from lots
>> of authorities "proving" that ghosts exist, but we can't prove the
>> existence scientifically because the scientific methods at our
>> disposal aren't sufficiently powerful.

>Typical rhetoric designed to ridicule, rather 
>than argument based on fact.
>We have hard research evidence indicating Amalgam could be
>a problem - I think your metaphor about ghosts holds no water.

>> > As amalgam is used so widely already, an effect in
>> > a few percent of the exposed population would mean that very
>> > large population groups could be affected.
>> Yes, perhaps ghosts and gobblins are also affecting a statistically
>> small segment of the population -- adding up to many millions.  However,
>> there's no evidence to support this notion.   The claim about bruxism,
>> for instance, was originally based on a quack study conducted about
>> fifteen years ago which used misused a device for monitoring mercury levels
>> in industrial environments.   There have been two or three attempts
>> to re-establish the claim, but to the best of my knowledge, none of
>> the anti-amalgamists has been successful in putting together
>> a reproducible study.

>Nonsense - the research that indicates bruxism increases Hg leakage 
>from the surface of Amalgam remains unchallenged. The only critism
>of the device used (gold leaf Jerome meter) fails in this incidence
>for simple reasons - whatever dispute/errors that may occur when
>to extrapolate the (abviously tiny) amounts of Hg vapour directly
>measured by the meter to daily exposures, this is less relevant when
>*comparing* 2 figures measured by the same meters, say before/after
>abrading Amalgam surfaces. Whatever the absolute figures, we can
>show an *increase* in release after bruxism.

>> >  The evidence from experimental and human studies at higher exposure
>> > levels clearly indicates that mercury from the toxicological point
>> > of view is an unsuitable element to use in dentistry. It is my
>> > opinion that it is prudent to conclude that mercury from dental
>> > amalgam is not safe to use for everyone."
>> >   (Dr Lars Friberg, Former Chief Adviser to the World
>> >   Health Organisation on Mercury safety. 1995 Symposium report.)
>> >
>> > "If you have something that's been put in your mouth that
>> > you can't dispose of in a waste basket without breaking
>> > environmental protection laws,
>> He's confusing amalgam with elemental mercury.

>He knows what he is talking about..
>> > there's no point in
>> > keeping it around, there's no point in taking that type of
>> > risk - there's no point in exposing people to any level of
>> > mercury toxicity if you don't have to......
>> > .....there is no doubt in my mind that low levels of mercury
>> > present in the brain could cause normal cell death, and this
>> > could lead to dementia which would be similar to Alzheimer's
>> > disease....
>> Ghosts and goblins could be responsible for this dementia,
>> which may or may not exist, but
>> unfortunately, there isn't any evidence.
>Again, typical rhetoric designed to ridicule, rather 
>than argument based on fact.

>> > We can't go inside a living human being and look
>> > at their brain, so we have to work outside, and do scientific
>> > experiments such as we've done. And to the best that we can
>> > determine with these experiments, mercury is a time-bomb in
>> > the brain, waiting to have an effect.
>> Nonsense.  The best evidence has determined that AMALGAM --
>> not to be confused with mercury -- is a safe and effective restorative

>Amalgam contains Mercury - 50% to be exact - held in a
>fairly weak metal-metal bond. This bond is much weaker
>than the more normal bonds found in salts - ie. -ve/+ve
>ion bonds. Thus Amalgam is prone to corrosion by acids,
>for instance..

>> material.   It's been used for more than a century without any
>> evidence of "dementia".

>Have you ever wondered why industrialised countries suffer from
>certain chronic illnesses (MS,ME,Alzheimers) that are virtually
>absent in other parts of the world? Industrial pollution 
>(with Amalgam being a part of that) could be an answer.
>The evidence could be there - proving it in the current
>political climate is harder..
>> > If it's not bothering
>> > someone when they're young, especially when they age it can
>> > turn into something quite disastrous."
>> >   (Dr Boyd Haley, Professor of Medicinal Biochemistry,
>> >   University of Kentucky. speaking on BBC Panorama..)
>> >
>> > "The ADA owes no legal duty of care to protect the public from
>> > allegedly dangerous products used by dentists…..Dissemination
>> > of information relating to the practice of dentistry does not
>> > create a duty of care to protect the public from potential
>> > injury."
>> >   (American Dental Association lawyers.)
>> Where did you find this quotation?   Please name the attorneys who
>> made the statement and tell me where it appears in print.   The
>> reason I'm making this demand is that I personally know the
>> person who was in charge of approving or disapproving the use
>> of restorative materials during the height ot the amalgam scam
>> in the USA (Enid Neidle) and Neidle would deny this claim in a
>> heartbeat.

>This is an absolute quote from a court case where someone
>tried to sue them. In fact the ADA have gotten so annoyed 
>about usage of this quote that they decided to issue
>rebuttal on their WWW pages - it might still be there..
>Again more details are on the AMALGAM group archives..



>To learn more about the Amalgam safety issue (or lack of) visit:-
>  http://i.am/amalgam                       or
>  http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/pcsol/homepage.htm

>This provides a wide range of information, and also links to
>other important sources - The Amalgam FAQ, The BBC Panorama
>program summary, the IAOMT homepage, Dr Vimys page, etc.

[deleted a very few lines . . . .]

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