Mercury in Your Teeth |
Mercury in Your Teeth
by Charlie Brown; Washington, DC

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Presenting: the Watson-Burton bill to abolish mercury in dentistry: H.R.4163, by Congresswoman Diane Watson (D-Calif.), for herself and Congressman Dan Burton (R-Ind.). The bill marks a culmination of Diane Watson’s ten-year battle dealing with mercury in dental fillings, and Dan Burton’s battle against mercury in any form in the human body.

The bill would (1) stop mercury going into the mouths of children, pregnant women, and nursing mothers, immediately upon passage; (2) give health warnings to all; and (3) end the use of mercury dental fillings for anyone by 2006. When it gets posted on the net, you can pick it up at

Now, of course, the real battle begins. The bill would give the ADA a graceful exit to using this toxic material, but we expect instead they will continue their propaganda about mercury being good for all of us.

BUT FIRST THINGS FIRST: the F.D.A.Even before starting our fight for this bill, we have an immediate challenge: the FDA is trying to smother our cause. Please write your Member of Congress, now, saying to stop the FDA from covering up the risks of mercury in dental fillings, from preempting state disclosure laws, and from rushing to judgment before Congress can consider the excellent Watson-Burton bill, H.R. 4163, which would make mercury dental fillings illegal.

Attached is a memo from Portland lawyer Sandy Duffy, who spearheads our cause in the Northwest. Please heed it and write. You see, if we can get Congressmen and Congresswomen concerned about the FDA cover-up effort, the next step is to ask them to consider the Watson-Burton bill. Your first letter should be to protect the FDA action, so Congress can first examine the Watson-Burton bill.

Mark the day of April 10, 2002: the introduction of the Watson-Burton bill to abolish mercury dental fillings. And mark today, April 11, announcing our national lobbying arm: COALITION TO ABOLISH MERCURY DENTAL FILLINGS, Inc.!

Don’t forget: write your Member of Congress now to protest the FDA’s mad rush to protect mercury dental fillings from Congressional and public scrutiny.

Charlie Brown; Washington, DC


Date: Fri, 5 Apr 2002
Re: FDA MERCURY AMALGAM RULE BEING CONSIDERED – Clarion call to write your Member of Congress and Senators about the FDA rule to classify mercury amalgams

Dear Friends:

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed a rule to undermine our state-by-state movement against the use of mercury dental fillings.

The agency proposed to issue a rule that hides the risks of mercury-based dental fillings. It says the language will be uniform, leaving some to suspect the FDA wants to preempt (eliminate) state laws with stiff disclosures, such as Maine’s.

The FDA is using the informal rule-making procedure and hasn’t scheduled a single public hearing. While the Administrative Procedures Act does not REQUIRE a public hearing, it ALLOWS public hearings. If Members of Congress request FDA to have a hearing, it can do so. Right now we are looking at a May 21, 2002, deadline for public comments which must be in writing.

So what should citizens do when a federal bureaucracy chooses to ignore the public interest and short-cut the process? Write our Members of Congress, that’s what!

On behalf of Consumers for Dental Choice, I urge you — doctors, patients, consumers, organizations of any type — to write your concerns to your United States Member of Congress and Senators.

(See below to determine who they are and how to write them.)

Here are some proposed talking points (but write your own letter, of course).

  • Why you are interested in the health effects of mercury dental fillings. Have you been harmed? Someone you love? (Be SURE use to use the “M” word when you say “amalgam.”)

  • The FDA is trying to write a rule that not only ignores the risks of mercury amalgam dental fillings, but assumes that they are safe. The FDA says they are safe – they are not safe; they contain a half gram of mercury, and the toxic vapors emanate constantly into the body.

  • The FDA is using selected old data, ignoring all recent studies, even the most recent US Public Health Service Report.

  • The FDA wants to classify mercury amalgams as a Class II dental device which does not require manufacturers to prove that mercury amalgam is safe. FDA’s own rules require a “dental implant” (a device placed in a natural or artificially created body cavity) to be classified as a Class III which would require the manufacturers to prove mercury amalgam is safe.

  • The FDA rule is on a fast track with a May 21, 2002 deadline for public comments. The deadline should be extended. The FDA has also indicated that it’s procedural rules do not require a public hearing and it does not plan to hold any public hearings. However, the FDA is ALLOWED to hold public hearings around the country to allow the public the opportunity for meaningful input.

  • Congresswoman Diane Watson (D-CA) and Congressman Dan Burton (R-IN) will be introducing a bill in the house this month which will ban mercury amalgams. The FDA should extend its process to see what the congressional intent is regarding this matter.

  • About 12 states have laws or bills before their legislatures on this issue. The FDA rule arguably preempts what the states are doing. Matters of health of state citizens is unquestionably a matter of states’ rights. If states want to provide greater health protections than the federal government, they should be able to do so.

  • The FDA, in its proposed rule, says that it “inadvertently” forgot to classify mercury amalgam as a CLASS I, II or III dental device. But in 1993 the US Public Health Service, in a major report, found that mercury amalgam should be regulated as a dental device and recommended that the FDA classify mercury amalgam and regulate it according to its classification. Why did FDA wait 8 years before following USPHS’s recommendation?


(1) Please ask the FDA to extend the time for public input for the rule so more people can participate and scientists can give FDA the latest information.

(2) Please ask the FDA to hold public hearings around the country to facilitate greater citizen participation.

(3) Please ask FDA to use the most recent and most relevant research from peer reviewed scientific publications instead of old and out-of-date research.

(4) The FDA doesn’t even have a leader at this time. Please ask the FDA to wait until an FDA Commissioner is on board and can review this terrible proposal.

HOW TO FIND YOUR MEMBER OF CONGRESS AND SENATORS (Remember, this is your FEDERAL representative, not your state representative.) When you get to the website, on the left side of the page see “elected officials.” Select “U.S. Congress” and the next site will allow you to type in your zip code and will identify your member of congress for you. You can also find your two state senators.

Thanks for all the good work,
Sandy Duffy, Consumers for Dental Choice
Lake Oswego, OR