09.10.2013 - FDI welcomes the Minamata Convention on Mercury

26 November 2015

9 October 2013

FDI welcomes the Minamata Convention on Mercury

Geneva, 9 October 2013: FDI World Dental Federation welcomes the ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, taking place in Minamata, Japan, from 9 October. The choice of Minamata, where serious health damage occurred as a result of mercury pollution in the mid-20th Century, is highly symbolic.

FDI has made it a priority to be involved in the drafting of the Convention from the outset. It was gratified to see consensus develop around the phase-down approach to dental amalgam—a mercury-added product containing 50% mercury—during the fifth and last meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Mercury (INC5).

This phase-down approach was advocated by FDI, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Association for Dental Research (IADR)

“Challenges for the profession”
Says Dr Stuart Johnston from the British Dental Association, who led the FDI negotiating team throughout the five negotiating sessions of INC: “We are all delighted that the Minamata Convention allows the dental profession continued access to a key restorative material. Dental amalgam is safe and effective: it has been in use for over 150 years and no studies have demonstrated any harm to human health.

“However, this is where the real challenges for the profession begin. Our team from FDI made a series of commitments on phasing down the use of amalgam, promoting research into new dental materials, managing dental amalgam waste and reducing the need for restorative dental care through prevention. Now we have to deliver.”

With this in mind, FDI is developing guidelines for members of the dental profession on the contents of the Minamata Convention on Mercury and how each individual can contribute towards implementing the profession’s commitments. The guidelines also detail how to explain the provisions of the Convention on dental amalgam to health officials, members of the media and the general public.

In addition, as part of its commitment to waste management, FDI has launched a pilot project in countries of East Africa in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), WHO and International Dental Manufacturers (IDM). The mid-term intention is to develop local expertise in amalgam waste management and recycling.

Note to editors
Mercury is heavy metal with significant health and environment effects. The Convention addresses the supply of and trade in mercury, use of mercury in products and industrial processes, measures to be taken to reduce emissions from artisanal and small-scale gold mining, measures to be taken to reduce emissions from power plants and metals production facilities, storage and treatment of waste containing mercury.

Dental amalgam is a compound containing mercury. It is a key restorative material in the fight against dental caries, the cause of tooth decay, which afflicts 90 percent of the world's population, making it a global public health issue. During negotiations on the convention, FDI had advocated a reduction in the use of dental amalgam—versus a ban—through a greater focus on dental prevention and health promotion, increased research and development on alternatives, and best management techniques for amalgam waste.

This was identical to the position of the WHO Oral Health Programme, world leader in the area, and supported by the International Association for Dental Research (IADR). Thus FDI, whose key objective is to improve world oral health, supports the approach to dental amalgam as laid down in the future Convention.

“The Convention shall enter on the ninetieth day after the date of deposit of the fiftieth instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession.”
(Minamata Convention, Article 31, item 1)

More from: Christopher M. Simpson / FDI Communications Manager / csimpson@fdiworldental.org / Call +41 22 560 8134 / Fax +41 22 560 8140

FDI World Dental Federation serves as the principal representative body for over one million dentists worldwide. Its membership includes approximately 200 national member associations and specialist groups from well over 130 countries. The FDI Annual World Dental Congress, held every year in different locations around the world, provides a unique opportunity for professionals and all other sectors related to oral healthcare to meet and learn from one another. FDI’s vision: ‘leading the world to optimal oral health’.

For more FDI News, visit www.fdiworldental.org

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