Minamata Convention on Mercury comes into force in August affecting use of dental amalgam

06 June 2017 Amalgam

The Minamata Convention on Mercury, aiming to prevent mercury and mercury compounds from negatively impacting humans and the environment, has reached the 50-ratifications milestone. To date, the Convention has been ratified by 55 countries and signed by 128 countries, it will enter into force on the 16 August 2017 (in the ratifying countries), which is 90 days after the 50th ratification was received.

The first Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Minamata Convention will gather governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations in Geneva, Switzerland, 24-29 September and FDI will be present. The conference will be instrumental in deciding how the treaty will be adopted and implemented on a technical, administrative and operational level.

What is the Minamata Convention on Mercury?

It is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury. Led by the United Nations Environment Programme and adopted in 2013, the Convention provides controls and reductions across a range of products, processes and industries where mercury is used, released or emitted. The Minamata Convention on Mercury is named after the city in Japan which was affected by mercury poisoning after a local chemical plant emitted untreated wastewater to the Minamata Bay.

Implications for the dental community

The Convention has profound implications for the practice of dentistry through its requirement to phase down the use of dental amalgam. Oral health professionals living in a country that has ratified the Convention need to be aware of the direct impact this will have on their profession. Since the Convention was adopted in 2013, FDI has been closely following the discussions and advocating its successful implementation.

In 2014, guidelines were designed for National Dental Associations (NDAs) equipping them with the necessary knowledge about the contents and provisions of the Convention and advising them about the obligations and opportunities for the dental sector. Most recently, the World Oral Health Forum at the 2016 World Dental Congress was dedicated to debating the implications of this decision for global oral health and on the practice of dentistry.

FDI continues to support the ratification of the Convention and remains committed to improve health and protect the environment without diminishing the importance of safe, effective, affordable oral healthcare.

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