In Hartford, Connecticut (USA) on June 23, environmental justice activists, health professionals, and patient advocates gathered on the steps of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to protest the state’s failure to stop pro-mercury dentists from willfully violating the law.
Connecticut law requires that “the brochure Fillings: The Choices You Have, Mercury Amalgam and Other Filling Materials shall be displayed and remain prominently displayed in each office.” It alerts every patient and parent that amalgam is mainly mercury, that mercury is a toxin, and that patients can choose mercury-free fillings. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is charged with enforcing this law.
But a recent survey shows that amalgam-using dentists are failing to display this brochure. Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice organized community volunteers to visit 400 dental offices in the state’s three major cities: Bridgeport, Hartford, and New Haven. Universally, they discovered that dentists are not displaying the brochure in their waiting rooms, nor does their front office staff offer it to patients. Consumers for Dental Choice and Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice released the survey results in the new report Mum About Mercury.
Failing to alert patients to amalgam’s mercury raises serious concerns, as the team in Connecticut was quick to point out:
- Environmental concerns: When dental patients are without access to the state’s amalgam brochure, they might receive amalgam fillings without ever knowing they are contributing to a growing environmental and health problem.
- Safety concerns: When the amalgam brochure is not displayed, patients – especially children, pregnant women, and people sensitive to mercury – might end up taking risks they would not have taken had they known amalgam has mercury and mercury-free alternatives are available.
- Civil rights concerns: When dental patients are denied the brochure, they often do not know they could have chosen a mercury-free filling – and that it was their right to make that choice.
On the steps of that state agency building, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s press office showed up to promise that now the state of Connecticut will enforce the law, and require dentists to prominently display the amalgam brochure. More than a dozen environmental, health, and civil rights organizations are following up on this promise, signing onto a letter calling on Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Robert Klee to stop dentists who use amalgam from withholding the amalgam brochure from patients.