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10 Oct 2013 | Press Release

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Minamata Convention To Provide New Framework For Dental Amalgam Use

Regulatory Affairs Minamata Convention Amalgam

This week will see the adoption of a global framework for the use of dental amalgam containing mercury. The Minamata Convention on Mercury has its origins from agreement by governments to address the environmental impacts of mercury, including its most toxic forms, by agreeing a global Convention covering emissions and releases.

"Both within Australia and internationally, the dental industry recognises that dental amalgam is a significant source of mercury pollution. For this reason, ADIA is pleased to support the Convention which permits the ongoing use of dental amalgam containing mercury, with a view to phasing-down use over the long-term," said Troy Williams, ADIA Chief Executive Officer.

With respect to the use of dental amalgam, national governments are obligated to give effect to two or more of nine policy responses having regard for domestic circumstances and relevant international guidance. These measures include promoting the use of cost-effective and clinically effective mercury free alternatives for dental restoration in addition to encouraging insurance policies and programmes that favour the use of quality alternatives to dental amalgam for dental restoration.

"The leadership of the dental industry will be vital to achieve other policy responses such as promoting research and development of quality mercury-free materials for dental restoration," said Mr Williams.

Significantly, one option to give effect to the Convention is for government to set national objectives aimed at dental caries prevention and health promotion, thereby minimising the need for dental restoration.

"In many respects the Australian experience provides a model for other nations to follow. The dental industry and dental professionals have a shared understanding and ownership of measures that are a practical application of the Convention's outcomes," Mr Williams said.

The adoption of the Convention is to be held at a meeting of the Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Minamata Convention on Mercury convened in accordance with decision 27/12 of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme. The meeting is being held in Japan over 9-11 October 2013.

The Convention's name comes from the Japanese town where mercury releases from a factory contaminated fish, leading to the poisoning of the local population.

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