FDA affirms safety of mercury fillings

McClatchy NewspapersJuly 29, 2009 

— After more than three decades of controversy, the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday issued new safety guidelines for mercury-based dental fillings that reaffirm the agency's long-held position that their use isn't a serious threat to patients.

Consumer groups, which have pushed for a ban on mercury in fillings, attacked the agency's announcement and promised a court challenge.

More than 100 million Americans have dental amalgams that are about 50 percent liquid mercury and 20 to 35 percent a powdered alloy made from silver, tin, copper, zinc and other metals, according to the FDA.

Consumer advocates and a number of scientists have argued for years that when these fillings are inserted or removed -- and even when people are chewing -- the mercury releases harmful vapors that could have toxic effects on the nervous systems of young children and fetuses.

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