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Mercury Pollutes the Air, How Safe Can it Be in Your Mouth?

If you have mercury amalgam fillings, you may be considering replacing them with tooth-colored fillings, you may be hesitating because you’re not sure how much of a health difference it may make. While it’s true that we’re not sure how toxic mercury fillings are, the current controversy about mercury emissions from crematoriums puts a new, frightening spin on the situation.

Increasing Controversy

If a person has mercury fillings, the mercury in the fillings–and the mercury that has migrated elsewhere in the body–is evaporated when they are cremated. With no requirement that crematoria have filtration on their smokestacks, that mercury is emitted into the air, which has recently led to concerns. Maine tried to regulate mercury emissions from crematoria in 2005, as did Minnesota, where the issue continues to be debated. As recently as this week, a development in Santa Cruz was stifled by  concerns about mercury emissions from a nearby crematorium.

How Much Mercury?

There are many estimates about the amount of mercury released into the air by crematoria. It may be about 5% of the total mercury released into the air.

Each cremated body may release about 0.013 pounds of mercury. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), this is enough to toxify about 2 million cubic feet of air, all the air in a 500’X500′ room. If it were spread out in Lincoln Financial Stadium, this air would create a layer three feet high over the entire site.

When you consider that there are about 45,000 cremations a year in Pennsylvania, you can see the magnitude of the public health problem.

Making Your Decision

But your personal health problem is smaller, more manageable. All it takes is for you to make the decision to remove your mercury fillings. Remember, mercury from your fillings naturally evaporates over time, and you end up inhaling it, so the longer they stay in the more risk you are exposed to.

To talk to Dr. Ken Siegel about your mercury fillings, please contact Dental Excellence of Blue Bell today.