FDA and mercury dental fillings: new info and “the story in the story”

KW: Summary – You should probably be questioning and somewhat concerned about mercury dental fillings.

This news happening is very interesting. There is a whole back story about lawsuits and why the FDA has issued warnings in the past. And, it is interesting to see the dance among “government and media”, “government and business/lobbyists”, “left and right” in the news coverage about the current moves by the FDA.

The headlines of the various stories about the same event could make your head spin. Sample headlines include: “FDA says mercury dental fillings not harmful” [Reuters]; “FDA: Mercury Fillings Not Harmful”; “FDA Calls for Stricter Controls on Mercury Fillings” and “FDA reclassifies dental amalgam and issues new control regulation” [Chemical Watch].

NPR has a good story, with a headline that, if read with the apparent sarcasm intended, points out the dilemmas in the situation. But, if  a person only read the headline, they would probably receive the message of mollifying concerns that the government and industry want the public to receive. The NPR headline reads, “FDA Raises Risk Level On Mercury Dental Fillings But Not To Worry.” The story points out that you should probably still worry. The NPR story is: here.

(excerpt from) Reuters
FDA says mercury dental fillings not harmful

By Susan Heavey

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Tuesday silver-colored dental fillings that contain mercury are safe for patients, reversing an earlier caution against their use in certain patients, including pregnant women and children…

In 2006, Moms Against Mercury and three other groups sued the FDA to have mercury fillings removed from the U.S. market. Later that year, an FDA panel of outside experts said most people would not be harmed but that more information was needed.

Mercury — whether in dental, vaccines, fish or other products — has generated much controversy. Some consumer groups contend the fillings can trigger a range of health problems such as multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease.

Part of the problem is that while much is known about high exposures to heavy metals, questions remain about “what is happening at chronic low-level exposure over a lifetime,” said Urvashi Rangan, the director of technical policy for Consumer Reports, whose group was not part of the initial lawsuit…

Alternative products include glass cement and porcelain as well as other metals such as gold, but they are more expensive…

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