Sweden bans amalgam fillings
The Swedish Government has announced the introduction of a blanket ban on mercury in the country that will be effective from 1 June 2009. The ban will mean that amalgam fillings and other products containing mercury will not be allowed on the Swedish market, and alternative techniques will have to be used in dental care, chemical analysis, and the chloralkali industry, the country’s Ministry of the Environment has announced. It also said that the Swedish Chemicals Agency is authorised to grant exemptions in individual cases.
In connection with the Government’s decision, waste containing mercury is to be disposed of in deep geological repositories, such as salt mines, in other EU countries. As the Swedish market for hazardous waste is small, creating a new Swedish repository would be around 15 times more expensive than depositing waste in existing facilities in the EU, the Ministry says. The disposal possibilities in other EU countries provide better incentives for the development of safe, large-scale technologies to stabilise waste containing mercury.
“Sweden is now leading the way in removing and protecting the environment from mercury, which is non-degradable,” the Minister for the Environment, Andreas Carlgren, said. “The ban is a strong signal to other countries and a Swedish contribution to EU and UN aims to reduce mercury use and emissions.”
Sweden is not the first country to remove mercury from the dental filling market. Last year, a similar ban was announced by the Norwegian government for environmental reasons.
Mercury is toxic to the human brain and results in various unstable mental conditions. Most countries in Europe only advise against the use of amalgam for children and pregnant women, but patients’ organisations believe that the rest of the population is also at risk. According to an EU scientific report, amalgam poses no danger to the human nervous system.