Editor's Note: On February 6, we asked BlueOregon readers to suggest progressive ideas that the next Oregon Legislature should enact. Over the next several weeks, we'll post some of these ideas here - and ask you to discuss them. Good idea? Bad idea? Any suggestions?
From "Sandy D":
Ban all mercury containing products with a carefully vetted list of exceptions. Mercury-based dental fillings should NOT be one of the exceptions. While middle class and well-to-do don't get many "silver" fillings anymore, it is all that poor people get.
Mandate mercury-amalgam separators in all dental offices. They catch 95-99% of the mercury going through water lines into the waste treatment plant. Every jurisdiction that has done this has had a substantial decline in mercury content in waste treatment plants (up to 90%).
Ban mercury based (50% elemental mercury - about 1/2 gram for EACH filling) dental fillings. Every bit of it ends up in the environment: cremation (bodies with mercury fillings); burial (might be a couple hundred or even a couple of hundred years for the coffin and all the rest to "go back to the earth," but it will.
Living human bodies put out about 50 micrograms of mercury per day (from mercury amalgams) that go into waste treatment plants or into septic tanks. [Biosolids from waste treatment plants are either buried or spread on croplands as fertilizer. The water effluent from the waste treatment plant containes methylated mercury. This is what is found in fish.]
Dental waste (pulled teeth) get incinerated or buried. More mercury in the environment. More than 30% of dentists are mercury-free, so there are obviously less toxic alternatives available. It is still used because it is cheap and easy. Lead might be even cheaper but people understand how toxic lead is. Well, mercury is 40 times more toxic. That is right, 40 times more toxic.
[If you have your own original progressive idea to propose, do it here: "There oughta be a law."]