California Dentists To Post Warning Signs on Potential Dangers of Mercury Fillings
The California Dental Association and the environmental group As You Sow on Monday reached an agreement requiring all California dental offices to post warnings signs on the potential dangers of mercury fillings, but a judge delayed the settlement to allow some revisions to the warnings, the Los Angeles Times reports (Gottlieb, Los Angeles Times, 12/17). Representatives from the San Francisco-based As You Sow brought a lawsuit against the CDA under Proposition 65, a law that requires businesses in the state to post warnings if their actions might put consumers or employees at risk of exposure to substances known to cause health problems (Ventura County Star, 12/16). Dentists and environmental groups have long disagreed about the safety of mercury amalgam use in fillings. The American Dental Association has concluded that not enough mercury is absorbed by the body through the fillings to affect a patient's health, but critics of the amalgam say it causes reproductive and neurological damage (Los Angeles Times, 12/17). Under the settlement, all 18,000 members of the CDA must post signs informing patients that the amalgam used in some fillings contains mercury, which is known to "cause birth defects or other reproductive harm," according to Shawn Khorrami, an attorney for As You Sow. The warning signs also must notify patients that the sealants -- chloroform and methylene chloride -- used in root canals, fillings, bridges and crowns are known carcinogens (Ventura County Star, 12/16). San Francisco Superior Court Judge A. James Robertson ordered both sides by Thursday to propose revisions to the warning signs that would allow patients to "better decide how serious the risk is," the Times reports. Representatives from As You Sow and the CDA must submit their proposals to the state attorney general's office. If the sides cannot agree on the revisions, the attorney general will suggest warning language. Robertson on Thursday is expected to issue an order requiring all dentists' offices in the state to post warning signs within 90 days (Los Angeles Times, 12/17).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.