Editor's Note: The following was submitted as a press release from Sharon resident Laura Henze Russell, Principal and Founder of Hidden River Health Challenge - SafeAMER.
Are you aware of the health risks associated with dental amalgam? It is 50 percent mercury, a potent neurotoxin. It is now proven to emit toxic mercury vapors in the presence of heat and abrasion. It is now proven to be a factor or co-factor in a host of chronic, devastating, costly diseases across the age spectrum. Yet the FDA has not yet acted upon the recommendations of its Scientific Advisory Panels in 2006 and 2010 to restrict its use.
This topic hits all too close to home for Sharon resident Laura Henze Russell. Russell became ill in March of 2011, and grew increasingly sick over the next year while confounding a dozen specialists at Boston area hospitals and health practice groups who could not diagnose her. One year later, doctors realized that her sickness was due to the mercury used in her dental fillings. Russell suffered from chronic ailments for nearly 20 years and is now healthy again.
Determined to make a lasting impression on the community and prevent future illnesses, Russell founded Hidden River Health Challenge to address the river of mercury and other toxins in our bodies, brains and cells that is harming our health, and leading to skyrocketing health care costs.
“We need to educate the public on the risks of mercury poisoning from dental amalgam,” says Russell. "I had no idea my fillings had mercury, or that it could degrade and vaporize, and cause a host of chronic health problems.”
New research shows that people with certain gene types do not clear mercury well, and Russell suspects she has one of those gene types. Connecticut, Maine, Vermont and California, and the City of Philadelphia, require informed consent before use of mercury dental amalgam.
Russell first gave a presentation to the Sharon Board of Health in July 2012. Russell has attended conferences throughout the country and a number of Boston area forums, spoken with experts in the field and with national, state and local officials, read new research papers being published, and met with people whose health was impacted by mercury dental amalgam from across the Commonwealth and across the nation. Russell has also raised the issue at public and community events and with public officials and decision makers, and is working to file legislation in the upcoming 2013-2014 session.
“We need to educate the public, provide more options, and break the FDA logjam on dental amalgam,” says Russell. “The FDA’s own Scientific Advisory Panels in 2006 and 2010 raised major concerns about the health impacts of dental amalgam and the majority did not agree with the FDA’s findings of safety.
Dental amalgam has been banned in Denmark, Norway and Sweden after years of phase down and study. International efforts at phase down and ending its use are underway in the European Commission, U.N. Environment Programme, and an International Treaty is now underway. The World Health Organization has called for a phase down of its use based on the work of preeminent Swedish scientist Maths Berlin.
Russell will present three articles at Sharon Town Meeting on Monday, Dec. 3:
Article 11: Resolution to encourage Town boards and residents, on a voluntary basis, to learn about the issues, risks and alternatives to mercury dental amalgam in the coming year; and to call upon the President of the United States to direct the FDA to follow the recommendations of its 2010 Scientific Advisory Panel to restrict amalgam use.
Article 12: By-Law providing for specific informed consent on the use of dental mercury amalgam in which patients get warnings similar to those required from manufacturers to dentists about risks of amalgam, and about risks of its removal, with suggestions to ask about safety equipment and precautions.
Article 13: Asks the Town and School Department, when they rebid dental plans, to request quotes on “cost neutral” plans that pay the same percentage toward all dental fillings, whether amalgam or alternatives, in all teeth, and offer such a plan as an option to employees.
Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, California and Philadelphia require informed consent for amalgam. Russell asks the Town to help end the FDA logjam with goals to reduce its use, improve health, and lower health care costs. More at oceanriver.org/hiddenriver.php.