Study on the potential for reducing mercury Final report

Study on the potential for reducing mercury Final report
Study on the potential for reducing mercury
pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Final report
European Commission – DG ENV
11 July 2012
Document information
CLIENT
CONTRACT NUMBER
European Commission – DG ENV
07.0307/2011/594114/SER/C3
REPORT TITLE
Final report
PROJECT NAME
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution
from dental amalgam and batteries
DATE
11 July 2012
AUTHORS
Mr. Shailendra Mudgal, BIO
Ms. Lise Van Long, BIO
Mr. Andreas Mitsios, BIO
Mr. Sandeep Pahal, BIO
Ms. Arianna De Toni, BIO
Dr. Lars Hylander, Uppsala University
KEY CONTACTS
Shailendra Mudgal
+ 33 (0) 1 53 90 11 80
sm@biois.com
Or
Lise Van Long
+ 33 (0) 1 53 90 11 80
Lise.Vanlong@biois.com
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The project team would like to thank all the
stakeholders who provided input to this study.
DISCLAIMER
The project team does not accept any liability for any
direct or indirect damage resulting from the use of this
report or its content. This report contains the results of
research by the authors and is not to be perceived as the
opinion of the European Commission.
Please cite this publication as:
BIO Intelligence Service (2012), Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from
dental amalgam and batteries, Final report prepared for the European Commission – DG ENV
Photo credit: cover @ Per Ola Wiberg
2 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Table of Contents
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
CHAPTER 1:
INTRODUCTION
9
27
1.1 The mercury issue
27
1.2 EU policy context
29
1.3 International policy context
29
1.4 Objectives of the study
30
1.5 Overall approach, methodology and timeframe
31
1.6 Document structure
34
PART A: ASSESSMENT OF POLICY OPTIONS TO REDUCE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS
FROM DENTAL AMALGAM USE
35
CHAPTER 2:
PROBLEM DEFINITION AND OBJECTIVES
37
2.1 Introduction
37
2.2 Policy context
37
2.2.1 EU policy context
37
2.2.2 Initiatives in EU Member States
39
2.2.3 International policy context
40
2.3 Problem definition
40
2.3.1 Dental amalgam use
40
2.3.2 Environmental aspects of dental amalgam use
41
2.3.3 Health aspects of dental amalgam use
45
2.4 Who is affected?
47
2.5 Justification for an EU action
48
2.6 Baseline scenario
48
2.6.1 Demand for dental amalgam and other filling materials
49
2.6.2 Environmental aspects
60
2.6.3 Economic aspects
61
2.6.4 Social aspects
74
2.7 Policy objectives
79
CHAPTER 3:
POLICY OPTIONS
81
3.1 Policy options selected for further analysis
81
3.2 Policy options excluded from the analysis
84
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 3
CHAPTER 4:
ANALYSIS OF IMPACTS
4.1 Environmental impacts
85
85
4.1.1 Option 1
85
4.1.2 Option 2
86
4.1.3 Option 3
87
4.2 Economic impacts
88
4.2.1 Option 1
88
4.2.2 Option 2
90
4.2.3 Option 3
95
4.3 Social impacts
99
4.3.1 Option 1
99
4.3.2 Option 2
99
4.3.3 Option 3
101
4.4 Other impacts
102
CHAPTER 5:
103
COMPARISON OF OPTIONS AND CONCLUSIONS
5.1 Comparison of policy options
103
5.2 Conclusions
108
PART B: ASSESSMENT OF POLICY OPTIONS TO REDUCE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS
FROM MERCURY-CONTAINING BATTERIES
111
CHAPTER 6:
PROBLEM DEFINITION AND OBJECTIVES
113
6.1 Introduction
113
6.2 Policy context
114
6.2.1 EU policy context
114
6.2.2 International policy context
115
6.3 Problem definition
115
6.3.1 The mercury problem
115
6.3.2 Specific issues related to mercury-containing button cell batteries
116
6.4 Who is affected?
118
6.5 Baseline scenario
118
6.6 Justification for an EU action
120
6.7 Policy objectives
121
CHAPTER 7:
POLICY OPTIONS
123
7.1 Policy options selected for further analysis
123
7.2 Policy options excluded from the analysis
124
4 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
CHAPTER 8:
ANALYSIS OF IMPACTS
125
8.1 Selection of impact categories and indicators
125
8.2 Environmental impacts
126
8.2.1 Option 1 (‘no policy change’)
126
8.2.2 Option 2
128
8.3 Economic impacts
128
8.3.1 Option 1 (‘no policy change’)
128
8.3.2 Option 2
129
8.4 Social impacts
131
8.4.1 Option 1 (‘no policy change’)
131
8.4.2 Option 2
132
CHAPTER 9:
COMPARISON OF OPTIONS AND CONCLUSIONS
133
9.1 Comparison of options
133
9.2 Conclusions
135
ANNEXES
137
ANNEX A: QUESTIONNAIRE TO MEMBER STATES
139
ANNEX B: OVERVIEW OF POLICY MEASURES CONCERNING DENTAL AMALGAM
146
ANNEX C: ASSESSMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL EMISSIONS FROM DENTAL AMALGAM
USE
150
ANNEX D: LITERATURE REVIEW ON HEALTH EFFECTS OF USING DENTAL AMALGAM
178
ANNEX E: ADDITIONAL DATA FROM THE MARKET REVIEW ON DENTAL AMALGAM
AND MERCURY-FREE ALTERNATIVES
187
ANNEX F: ADDITIONAL DATA ON ENVIRONMENTAL COSTS OF DENTAL AMALGAM
USE
207
ANNEX G: MARKET REVIEW OF BUTTON CELL BATTERIES IN EU
212
ANNEX H: USE OF AMALGAM SEPARATORS
220
ANNEX I: AMALGAM WASTE DATA
225
ANNEX J: SEWAGE SLUDGE MANAGEMENT STATISTICS
228
ANNEX K: MERCURY CONTENT OF SEWAGE SLUDGE
232
ANNEX L: MERCURY EMISSIONS FROM CREMATORIA
234
ANNEX M: STATISTICS ON DENTAL HEALTH
243
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 5
List of Tables
Table 1: Overview of economic impacts associated with the two policy options
24
Table 2: Assumptions on future dental amalgam demand in the baseline scenario
57
Table 3: Estimated costs for amalgam separators by size of dental office in the USA (EUR)
63
Table 4: Average dental restoration costs borne by patients
65
Table 5: Additional costs borne by patients (EUR) in the baseline scenario, for the period 20102025
70
Table 6: Examples of BPA-free composite dental materials
78
Table 7: Additional costs borne by patients under Policy Option 2, for the period 2010-2025
93
Table 8: Additional costs borne by patients under Policy Option 3, for the period 2010-2025
97
Table 9: Overview of key impacts associated with the policy options analysed, over a 15-year
horizon (2010-2025)
106
Table 10: List of impact categories and the corresponding methods of evaluation
125
Table 11: Mercury contained in button cells placed on EU market from 2006 until 2010
127
Table 12: Semi-quantitative score matrix
133
Table 13: Comparison of the two policy options according to economic, environmental and social
indicators
134
Table 14: Overview of MS and international legislation and best practices going beyond EU policy
146
Table 15: Share of dental facilities equipped with dental amalgam separators
159
Table 16: Projections on sewage sludge management options in EU27 (in % of total sludge
produced)
167
Table 17: Comparison between dental Hg release estimates and overall Hg releases in the EU 176
Table 18: Estimation of annual dental mercury demand per Member State
188
Table 19: Estimated shares of dental amalgam and Hg-free restorations in 2010
190
Table 20: Expected future trends in dental restorations and use of dental filling materials (based
on replies to study questionnaire)
192
Table 21: Estimated demand for dental mercury in 2025, in the baseline scenario (t)
193
Table 22: Estimated demand for dental mercury in 2025, in Option 2 (t)
194
Table 23: Estimated demand for dental mercury in 2025, in Option 3 (t)
195
Table 24: Overview of dental restoration costs borne by patients, per Member State (EUR)
196
6 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Table 25: Actual costs of dental restorations for a sample of Member States (EUR)
197
Table 26: Coverage of dental restorations by national health insurance schemes
197
Table 27: Statistics on the number of dentists, 2009 - Source: Eurostat
201
Table 28: Producers of dental filling materials in the EU27
203
Table 29: Estimated annual costs for amalgam separators by size of dental office (2008)
207
Table 30: Cost of dental amalgam waste management for dentists
208
Table 31: Cost of strategies to avoid Hg pollution related to cremation
209
Table 32: Costs to switch from agricultural use of sludge (landspreading) to other sludge
management methods (EUR/t dry solids)
210
Table 33: PRODCOM classification of button cells
212
Table 34: Quantity (million units) of different types of button cells placed on the EU market from
2004 until 2007 (Source: PRODCOM)
213
Table 35: EU statistics for import and export of mercury oxide batteries as reported by IMTS for
the period 2007-2010 (button cells as well as larger batteries)
214
Table 36: Sales (in ‘000 units) of EPBA member companies for different button cell technologies
in EU in 2010 (Source: EPBA)
215
Table 37: Main companies involved in the recycling of button cell batteries waste arising in EU
218
Table 38: Quantities of button cell battery waste recycled (in tonnes) as per country of origin of
button cell battery waste in 2009 (Source: EBRA)
219
Table 39: Use of amalgam separators in EU27
220
Table 40: Estimated amounts of dental amalgam waste produced in EU Member States
225
Table 41: Sewage sludge produced in the Member States and treatment methods 2006-2009
(Source: Eurostat)
228
Table 42: Estimates of mercury quantities introduced into agricultural soils
232
Table 43: Estimates of mercury emissions from crematoria in the EU Member States
234
Table 44: Share of EU population with unmet needs for dental examination by sex, age, reason
and income quintile (%) – Source: Eurostat
243
Table 45: Health care indicators by group of Member States
244
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 7
List of Figures
Figure 1: Projected annual demand for dental mercury in the EU (t Hg)
16
Figure 2: Annual costs borne by EU dental patients due to the substitution of dental amalgam
according to different policy options (million EUR)
18
Figure 3: Task structure
31
Figure 4: Demand for dental mercury in EU Member States (t Hg/year)
50
Figure 5: Number of restorations per filling material per Member State (millions per year)
52
Figure 6: Number of restorations per filling material per Member State (per 1000 inhabitants per
year)
53
Figure 7: Share of dental filling materials used in EU (in number of restorations)
54
Figure 8: Costs borne by patients for a dental amalgam restoration102 (EUR)
66
Figure 9: Costs borne by patients for a Hg-free restoration102 (EUR)
66
Figure 10: Projected annual demand for dental mercury in the EU (t Hg)
103
Figure 11: Annual costs borne by EU dental patients due to the substitution of dental amalgam
according to different policy options (million EUR)
104
Figure 12: Main mercury flows associated with dental amalgam use (t Hg/year)
153
Figure 13: Requirements concerning installation of amalgam separators
158
Figure 14: Share of crematoria equipped with mercury abatement devices in 16 MS
171
Figure 15: Estimated annual Hg emissions from crematoria in 25 MS
173
Figure 16: Main dental filling producers in the EU (number of companies per Member State) 203
Figure 17: EU import, export and production of button cells in million units (Source: PRODCOM)
213
Figure 18: Sales (in million units) of EPBA member companies for different types of button cells
sold in EU for the period 2004-2010 (Source: EPBA)
215
8 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Executive Summary
Executive summary
T
his report presents the findings of the study on ‘Potential for reducing mercury pollution
from dental amalgam and batteries’ carried out for the European Commission (DG
Environment). It mainly consists of two assessments of policy options to reduce
environmental impacts from dental amalgam (Part A of the report) and from mercury-containing
batteries (Part B of the report).
The health and environmental risks associated with mercury (Hg) are well known and have led
the Commission to adopt an EU Mercury Strategy in 20051, with the aim to ‘reduce mercury levels
in the environment and human exposure, especially from methylmercury in fish’. The review of the
Strategy’s implementation2, in 2010, acknowledged the progress made with regard to a number
of actions proposed in 2005 such as the adoption of the Mercury Export Ban Regulation3, the
phase-out of mercury use in certain measuring devices under the REACH Regulation4, the
submission of additional mercury use restriction proposals under REACH, and the EU’s
contribution to the progress of international negotiations on the global mercury treaty. The
review also highlighted areas for further improvement, among which the remaining uses of
mercury in several applications where Hg-free alternatives exist and are already used to some
extent; this concerns in particular dental amalgam and button cell batteries, which are the
subject of the present study.
1
Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament – Community Strategy
Concerning Mercury – COM (2005) 20 final
2
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the review of the Community
Strategy Concerning Mercury, COM(2010)723final. The EC’s Communication was informed by a report by BIO
Intelligence Service prepared for DG ENV in 2010
(http://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/mercury/pdf/review_mercury_strategy2010.pdf)
3
Regulation (EC) No 1102/2008 of 22 October 2008 on the banning of exports of metallic mercury and certain mercury
compounds and mixtures and the safe storage of metallic mercury
4
Commission Regulation (EC) No 552/2009 of 22 June 2009 amending Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 on the
Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) as regards Annex XVII
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 9
Executive Summary
Assessment of policy options to reduce
environmental impacts from dental amalgam use
Dental amalgam is a combination of metals, containing about 50% of mercury in the elemental
form, the other metals being silver (about 35%), tin, copper, and other trace metals. Dental
amalgam has been used for over 150 years for the treatment of dental cavities and is still used
due to its specific mechanical properties and the long-term familiarity of many dental
practitioners with this material. Dental amalgam has been controversial ever since it was
introduced, early in the nineteenth century, because of potential risks due to its mercury content.
Mercury releases from the use of dental amalgam occur at different stages of its life cycle, in
particular during the placement of new fillings or the removal of old ones at dental practices, at
the end of life of persons with amalgam fillings (via cremation or burial), and during the
progressive deterioration of amalgam fillings in people’s mouths due to chewing, ingestion of hot
beverages and corrosion (mercury excreted by humans).
Problem definition
Dental amalgam is one of the main remaining uses of mercury in the EU. In 2007, dental
amalgam was the second largest mercury use in the EU after chlor-alkali production31 and it is
expected to become the largest mercury use once mercury cell-based chlor-alkali production is
phased out in the EU (target date 2020). In the present study, the EU mercury demand for
dentistry was estimated to range between 55 and 95 t Hg/year in 2010 (75 t Hg/year on average).
Although dental use of mercury seems to have been declining over the last few years, it remains a
significant contributor to overall environmental mercury releases in the EU.
It is roughly estimated that 45 t Hg/year from EU dental practices end up in chairside effluents,
with only a part of which being captured and treated as hazardous waste in compliance with EU
legislation. Mercury in dental waste represents about 50 t Hg/year. Estimates developed in this
study suggest that dental amalgam is a significant contributor to overall EU environmental
emissions of mercury from human activities. Mercury emitted to the air can be partly deposited
into other environmental compartments (soil, surface water, vegetation). Emissions to soil and
groundwater are also significant, although their contribution to overall mercury releases to this
environmental compartment is more difficult to quantify. It is estimated that about half of the
mercury released from current and historical dental amalgam use remains potentially
bioavailable, with the potential to contaminate fish in particular, the other half being either
sequestered for long-term (stored in hazardous waste landfills) or recycled for new purposes.
All individuals are exposed to mercury pollution to some degree; however, some groups are
particularly exposed and/or vulnerable to the health effects of mercury pollution (principally in
the form of methylmercury through diet), such as high-level fish consumers, women of
childbearing age and children. This presents a risk of negative impacts on health, in particular
affecting the nervous system and diminishing intellectual capacity. There are also environmental
10 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Executive Summary
risks, for example the disturbance of microbiological activity in soils and harm to wildlife
populations. More than 70% of the European ecosystem area is estimated to be at risk today due
to mercury, with critical loads for mercury exceeded in large parts of western, central and
southern Europe 5,6.
The problem of mercury pollution from dental amalgam is twofold: in the first place, pollution is
caused by the historical use of dental amalgam, while the current use of dental amalgam adds up
to mercury releases from historical practice. The drivers of the problems identified can be
described as a combination of market and regulatory failures.
Pollution due to historical use of dental amalgam mainly results from non-compliance of dental
facilities with EU waste legislation and a lack of anticipation with regard to EU legislation on
water quality.
Some of the emissions associated with the historical use of dental amalgam, e.g. emissions from
burial and emissions from amalgam deterioration in mouths, are difficult to tackle due to their
diffuse nature. However, a significant part of these emissions can be minimised through proper
waste and wastewater management in dental facilities and the use of efficient mercury
abatement devices in crematoria.
The handling of dental amalgam waste as hazardous waste (which usually involves the use of
efficient amalgam separators, the segregation of amalgam waste from other waste types and its
treatment as hazardous waste) is a matter of enforcing EU legislation on waste7. Adequate
handling of dental amalgam waste is also necessary to achieve certain goals of EU legislation on
water quality8: mercury is considered as a priority hazardous substance, requiring a cessation of
emissions, discharges and losses within 20 years after adoption of measures. The present study
estimated that around 25% of EU dental facilities are still not equipped with amalgam
separators. Besides, a significant proportion of separators are not adequately maintained, which
reduces significantly their mercury capture efficiency. Although it is much easier to capture
mercury at dental facilities than once it is mixed with other urban effluents or municipal solid
waste, the installation and maintenance costs of an amalgam separator are borne by dentists,
while local authorities (i.e. EU citizens through local taxes) bear the cost of removing mercury
from urban sewage sludge and municipal waste.
5
This concept is mainly based on ecotoxicological effects and human health effects via ecosystems. It is generally
defined as a quantitative estimate of an exposure to one or more pollutants below which significant harmful effects on
specified sensitive elements of the environment do not occur.
6
Hettelingh, J.P., J. Sliggers (eds.), M. van het Bolcher, H. Denier van der Gon, B.J.Groenenberg, I. Ilyin, G.J. Reinds, J.
Slootweg, O. Travnikov, A. Visschedijk, and W. de Vries (2006). Heavy Metal Emissions, Depositions, Critical Loads
and Exceedances in Europe. VROM-DGM report, www.mnp.nl/cce, 93 pp.; CEE Status Reports 2008 (Chapter 7,
http://www.rivm.nl/thema/images/CCE08_Chapter_7_tcm61-41910.pdf) and 2010 (Chapter 8,
http://www.rivm.nl/thema/images/SR2010_Ch8_tcm61-49679.pdf)
7
Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC). The Directive does not prescribe specifically dental clinics to install dental
amalgam separators, however this is a means to comply with the ban on mixing hazardous waste.
8
In particular: Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC), Decision 2001/2455/EC and Directive 2006/11/EC on
dangerous substances and Directive 2008/105/EC on priority substances
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 11
Executive Summary
In the absence of further EU policy action, environmental impacts due to the historical use of
dental amalgam will continue to occur for several decades since they are due to the removal of
old fillings, the loss of teeth, the progressive deterioration of existing fillings and the end of life of
amalgams when people decease. Mercury releases from dental practices may decrease
progressively along with the modernisation of dental practices, as new dental practices are
generally equipped with amalgam separators. It is, however, highly unlikely that 100% of dental
practices become compliant with the relevant requirements of EU waste legislation in the short
term without any further enforcement actions from public authorities. With regard to the end of
life of amalgams, future mercury releases from burial are likely to remain stable and will occur for
several decades. Concerning mercury emissions from cremation, a stabilisation seems to have
occurred since 2005, but future trends are difficult to predict.
With regard to the current use of dental amalgam, solutions are available to phase out mercury
use in most medical conditions.
Although Hg-free alternatives to dental amalgam exist and can be used in most medical
conditions9, they are still not widely used in a number of Member States (e.g. FR, PL, UK, CZ, RO,
ES, and GR). The main reasons behind this situation are as follows:
Hg-free dental restorations are more expensive for patients, as compared with
dental amalgam restorations, in many Member States. This is both due to the
higher actual cost of most Hg-free restorations (the Atraumatic Restorative
Treatment or ‘ART’ being an exception) and the fact that the reimbursement
of Hg-free restorations by the existing national health insurance schemes is
not always as advantageous for patients as in the case of dental amalgam.
Not all EU dentists are properly trained and skilled in conducting Hg-free
restorations and insufficiently trained dentists may be more reluctant to
propose Hg-free restorations to patients.
Many dentists are not aware of the benefits of ART (Atraumatic Restorative
Treatment), a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly Hg-free restoration
technique using hand tools and glass ionomers, already widely used in
developing countries but also increasingly used in developed countries (for
restorations not requiring a high longevity).
While glass ionomers have a shorter durability, some dentists consider that
Hg-free fillings using composite materials also have a lower durability than
amalgam fillings, in spite of recent technical improvements.
Some dentists are reluctant to change their current practice and to invest in
new equipment required to handle Hg-free fillings. In parallel, they may not be
fully aware of the seriousness of the environmental impacts caused by dental
amalgam and of the extent of societal benefits of reducing mercury emissions.
9
Currently the most commonly used alternatives to dental amalgam are composite resins, glass ionomer cement,
compomers, giomers, sealants, and dental porcelain.
12 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Executive Summary
Not all patients are fully aware of the pros and cons associated with the
different types of filling materials. In particular, many patients are not aware
of the presence of mercury in dental amalgam and the extent of the
associated environmental impacts.
Some dentists consider that, although Hg-free materials have been used in
some countries for many years, the absence of long-term environmental and
health effects of these materials has not been fully demonstrated.
The fact that Hg-free dental restorations are more expensive than dental amalgam restorations
can be seen as a market failure in the sense that negative externalities associated with the use of
dental amalgam (e.g. management of dental waste and effluents) are not factored in the market
price of dental amalgam restorations. If these externalities were included, it has been shown – for
the US market – that the market price of an average amalgam restoration would be equal to or
up to about 15% higher than the price of a composite restoration10.
If no further EU policy action is taken, the current use of dental amalgam will continue to
generate environmental impacts that will occur over the whole lifetime of the amalgam fillings; a
large part of the associated environmental emissions would occur during a period of 10 to 15
years after the placement of amalgam (this is the average lifetime of an amalgam filling)11 but the
actual environmental impacts (adverse effects to ecosystems) and possible indirect human
health effects will occur for several decades.
In the absence of further EU policy action, dental amalgam may continue to be progressively
substituted with Hg-free materials, mainly as a result of growing aesthetic concerns, although it
is difficult to predict the speed of this decline. Dental amalgam may well continue to be used for
many years in some of the less wealthy Member States. In the present study, it is estimated that
EU demand for dental mercury will decrease and will stabilise around 27 to 43 t Hg/year in 2025
(2010-2025 being the time horizon for the present assessment). This represents an annual
decrease of approximately 5% over a 15-year time horizon.
In the absence of any changes to national health insurance schemes, it is expected that Hg-free
dental restorations will continue to be more expensive for patients than amalgam restorations in
the future, however the cost difference will tend to decrease due to innovation and increased
competition concerning the production of Hg-free filling materials as well as improved dentists’
skills in the handling of Hg-free materials.
10
Concorde (2012) The real cost of dental mercury – Report prepared for the European Environmental Bureau (EEB),
the Mercury Policy Project and Consumers for Dental Choice
(http://www.zeromercury.org/index.php?option=com_phocadownload&view=file&id=158:the-real-cost-of-dentalmercury&Itemid=70)
11
Some amalgam restorations will last shorter (many of them last less than 2 years) while others have been reported to
last up to 40 to 50 years (WHO (2010) Future use of materials for dental restoration).
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 13
Executive Summary
Possible direct human health impacts of dental amalgam are still a subject of scientific
controversy.
While there is a common viewpoint among stakeholders that the adverse environmental effects
of dental amalgam use need to be addressed, there is currently no scientific consensus on the
direct health effects of dental amalgam (except with regard to possible allergies caused by dental
amalgam). For this reason, future policy actions concerning dental amalgam addressed in this
study focus on the environmental side of the problem and indirect health effects. However,
because direct health impacts are relevant to the overall assessment, a short review of the
scientific literature on such aspects has also been included.
Policy objectives and options
The general objective of any future policies in relation to mercury in dental amalgam will be to
reduce the environmental impacts from the use of mercury in dentistry and to reduce the
contribution of dental amalgam to the overall mercury problem. In the long-term, this should
contribute to achieving reduced mercury levels in the environment, at EU and global level,
especially levels of methylmercury in fish. This long-term policy objective can be achieved
through specific policy actions aiming to 1) minimise mercury emissions from current and
historical use of mercury in dentistry and 2) minimise and, where feasible, eliminate the source of
pollution, i.e. phase out dental amalgam use.
Four policy options have been selected for analysis:
‘No policy change’ option (baseline scenario)
Option 1: Improve enforcement of EU waste legislation regarding dental amalgam –
The Commission would ask Member States to report on measures taken to manage
dental amalgam waste in compliance with EU waste legislation (i.e. as hazardous waste)
and to provide evidence of the effectiveness of the measures in place. Usual steps taken
to comply with these requirements are the presence of amalgam separators in dental
practices, an adequate maintenance of these separators in order to ensure a minimum
95% efficiency and to have the amalgam waste collected and treated by companies with
the adequate authorisation to handle this type of hazardous waste.
Option 2: Encourage Member States to take national measures to reduce the use of
dental amalgam while promoting the use of Hg-free filling materials – The
Commission would encourage Member States to take national measures aiming to
reduce the use of dental amalgam (for example via a Communication to be adopted in
2013) and Member States would have to report annually to the Commission on the
measures taken and their effect. Such measures would include, in particular, measures
aiming to: improve dentists’ awareness of the environmental impacts of mercury and the
need to reduce its use; review dental teaching practices so that Hg-free restorations
techniques are given preference over dental amalgam techniques; improve dentists’
awareness and skills with regard to the Hg-free and cost-efficient Atraumatic Restorative
Treatment (ART) approach so that it is used in all cases where it is adequate (such as in
14 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Executive Summary
children and elder people); and improve public dental health to reduce the occurrence of
cavities.
Option 3: Ban the use of mercury in dentistry – One possibility would be to add the use
of mercury in dentistry to Annex XVII of the REACH Regulation12, with the possibility to
define limited exemptions to take into account specific medical conditions where dental
amalgam cannot be substituted at present13. In the present study, it is assumed that a
decision to submit a REACH Restriction Dossier would be made in 2013, on the basis of
which a legal ban would be adopted and would become applicable 5 years later, i.e. in
2018.
Analysis of impacts
Information sources include previous studies, recent mercury emission data and information from
stakeholders.
The evidence base for the analysis of impacts first includes findings from previous studies on the
dental amalgam issue14. In order to fill the information gaps highlighted in previous studies and
obtain up-to-date data, recent publications and recently published emission data were reviewed
in a second stage15. Tailored questionnaires were then sent to about 300 stakeholders including
environmental and health authorities within Member States, industry stakeholders (dental
associations, dental fillings suppliers, waste treatment industry, crematoria businesses and water
treatment industry) as well as NGOs and academic experts. About 40 questionnaire replies were
received, with varying levels of detail, including responses from 20 Member States16. Finally,
follow-up telephone interviews were conducted with several dental fillings manufacturers,
national dental associations and researchers. Additional information was provided by some
stakeholders, following the consultation workshop held in March 2012.
One major challenge is a lack of reliable and up-to-date data in many Member States on dental
amalgam use, related mercury emissions, and dental restoration costs, which required a number
of assumptions and extrapolations.
12
Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 on Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals – Annex XVII
of the REACH Regulation contains the list of all restricted substances, specifying which uses are restricted.
13
Another possibility to implement Option 3 could be to amend the Medical Devices Directive (93/42/EEC). At the time
of writing this report, the feasibility of using the REACH Regulation or the Medical Devices Directive as legal
instruments to implement Option 3 is still being studied by the Commission.
14
In particular: SCHER (2008) Opinion on the environmental risks and indirect health effects of mercury in dental
amalgam; Summary of Member States responses to 2005 EC survey on management of dental amalgam waste;
COWI/Concorde (2008) Options for reducing mercury use in products and applications, and the fate of mercury already
circulating in society; EEB/Concorde (2007) Mercury in dental use: environmental implications for the EU
15
In particular: Emission data from the European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register; OSPAR (2011) Overview
assessment of implementation reports on OSPAR Recommendation 2003/4 on controlling the dispersal of mercury
from crematoria
16
AT, BE, BG, CZ, CY, DE, DK, EE, FI, HU, IE, LT, LV, MT, PL, SE, SI, SK, UK. In addition, LU and RO advised that they
were not able to provide any valuable information in relation to the study.
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 15
Executive Summary
Environmental and socio-economic impacts of the policy options are closely related to the
projected trends for dental amalgam use in the EU, over the next 15 years.
A comparison of the different mercury demand projections developed in this study, for the
different policy options, is presented in Figure 1 below. The assumptions used to develop these
projections are based on the limited information currently available concerning the expected
decline of dental amalgam demand in the EU and they carry a large part of uncertainty.
Figure 1: Projected annual demand for dental mercury in the EU (t Hg)
Policy Option 3:
Decision to prepare
a REACH restriction
proposal
80
Policy Option 3:
Adoption of the
dental amalgam
ban
Policy Option 3:
The dental
amalgam ban
becomes applicable
70
60
50
40
Policy Option 2:
A Recommendation is
issued to the Member
States by the EC
30
20
10
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
Baseline scenario and Option 1
2015
2016
2017
Option 2
2018
2019 2020
2021 2022
2023
2024
2025
Option 3
While the baseline scenario assumes a gradual decrease in dental amalgam demand over the
next 15 years (approximately –5% demand per year) until a threshold of about 35 t Hg/year to be
reached in 2025, Option 3 would result in a sharp decrease (approximately 20% annually) of
dental amalgam demand from 2013 (i.e. the year when a decision to prepare a REACH restriction
proposal is made) to reach zero demand in 2018 once the ban becomes applicable (in fact, very
small amounts could still be used after 2018, in accordance with the allowed exemptions, but
these are considered to be negligible). Option 2, as an intermediate option between the ‘no
policy change’ and Option 3, would result in a more rapid decline in dental amalgam demand
than in the baseline scenario (approximately –9% demand per year) until a threshold of about 19
t Hg/year to be reached in 2025.
Environmental impacts
While the quantities of dental amalgam waste produced are expected to decrease in all options,
with a much stronger positive effect under Options 2 and 3, only Option 1 could influence the
management of amalgam waste and allow a reduction of mercury releases to air/water/soil
associated with this waste stream in the short term. More specifically, Option 1 would avoid the
release of approximately 7 t Hg/year to urban wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in the EU
(30% reduction of the mercury load with regard to the baseline situation for 2015).
16 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Executive Summary
Mercury releases to air/water/soil due to dental amalgam use are also expected to decrease in all
options, due to the progressive substitution of dental amalgam with Hg-free materials; however
only Option 2 and – to a greater extent – Option 3 would allow a significant decrease of these
emissions in the long term, with an almost complete cessation of mercury releases in the case of
Option 3.
Under Option 2, the expected decrease in dental amalgam use would lead to a reduction of
mercury releases to the environment (air/water/soil) by at least 3% with regard to the baseline
scenario for year 2025.
Under Option 3, when the ban starts to apply in 2018, the avoided mercury use is estimated at
approximately 50 t Hg/year with regard to the baseline scenario. This option, once implemented,
will lead to an immediate decrease in environmental mercury releases. However, because there
will still be mercury releases due to old amalgam fillings, it is estimated that, at the time the ban
becomes applicable, mercury releases to the environment (air/water/soil) would only be reduced
by approximately 15% with regard to the baseline scenario. Mercury releases will progressively
decrease over the years in line with the decrease of mercury stocks in people’s mouths. Given
that the average lifetime of amalgam fillings ranges from 10 to 15 years, it is expected that
mercury releases from historical amalgam use would have significantly decreased 15 years after
the ban takes effect17. The actual environmental impacts (e.g. adverse effects to ecosystems)
would however continue to be observed for several decades, given the potential for elemental
mercury to be transformed into methylmercury and to accumulate in biota.
Economic impacts
The cost of dental amalgam substitution by Hg-free materials (composite resins or glass
ionomers) for EU dental patients is an important aspect of the analysis, for Options 2 and 3. The
projected evolution of such costs is shown in Figure 2 below (costs of Option 1 would be similar to
the baseline scenario). Projections shown below take into account a progressive decrease in the
cost of Hg-free restorations, which was considered as the most realistic scenario. The graph
shows that, in all policy options, the annual costs would increase (due to higher numbers of Hg
free restorations); however, this increase would progressively slow down in the baseline scenario
and Option 2 (due to the decreasing price difference between amalgam and Hg-free
restorations). The annual costs tend to converge towards the end of the time period considered
(2025).
While the costs for dental patients are likely to increase under Options 2 and 3, the costs borne by
local taxpayers for the management of mercury pollution (tax contribution to mercury
abatement costs in urban WWTPs and waste management facilities) would be reduced,
especially under Option 3, due to reduced mercury releases from dental facilities. For example, a
lower mercury content of dental effluents may reduce the need for municipalities to invest in
17
Residual mercury releases would be mainly due to amalgam fillings borne by immigrants to the EU and possibly also
some specific cremation practices such as the ones reported in Italy (according to the Italian crematoria association
Federutility, in Italy approximately 20% of cremations are carried out on human remains and can take place 10 to 20
years after a burial).
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 17
Executive Summary
expensive mercury abatement devices in sewage sludge incineration plants18. In certain cases, it
may also increase the possibilities of using sewage sludge for agricultural purposes, a cheaper
management option for sewage sludge.
Figure 2: Annual costs borne by EU dental patients due to the substitution of dental
amalgam according to different policy options (million EUR)
1400
Policy Option 3:
Decision to prepare
a REACH restriction
proposal
1200
1000
Policy Option 3:
Adoption of the
dental amalgam
ban
Policy Option 3:
The dental
amalgam ban
becomes applicable
Policy Option 2:
A Recommendation
is issued to the
Member States by
the EC
800
600
400
200
0
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
Baseline scenario and Option 1
2019
2020
Option 2
2021
2022
2023
2024
2025
Option 3
Key assumptions – Figure 2:
These costs correspond to the average costs actually borne by the patients going to dental practitioners having an agreement
with the public sector, i.e. taking into account the amounts possibly reimbursed by national health insurance schemes. They
correspond to average restoration costs, considering the different types of restorations which may be performed (front teeth/rear
teeth; 1, 2 or 3 surfaces; etc.).
Baseline scenario and Option 1: Assumes a slow substitution of dental amalgam restorations with Hg-free methods as presented
in Table 2, and a 1% annual decrease in the price difference between amalgam and composite restorations.
Policy option 2: Assumes a progressive substitution of dental amalgam restorations with Hg-free methods as presented in Section
4.1.2, and a 2% annual decrease in the price difference between amalgam and composite restorations.
Policy option 3: Assumes a quick substitution of dental amalgam restorations with Hg-free methods, leading to almost zero
dental amalgam restorations from 2018, and a 3% annual decrease in the price difference between amalgam and composite
restorations.
With regard to economic impacts on crematoria, Option 2 would only have a minimal impact
while Option 3 would have a positive economic effect in the long term, by avoiding the need for
installing mercury abatement devices in new EU crematoria or for operating the systems that are
already in place.
An increase in the revenues of the EU dental fillings industry is likely to occur in all options, due to
the progressive substitution of dental amalgam with the more sophisticated Hg-free filling
materials. This positive effect would be more significant in the case of Options 2 and 3 as the rate
of substitution would be increased. Besides, Option 2 and – to greater extent – Option 3 are
expected to promote competitiveness and innovation of the EU dental fillings industry.
18
As an illustration, one large wastewater treatment plant in Bilbao, Spain, reported that the presence of high mercury
levels in sludge required significant investment in 2010-2011 in order to comply with legislation, in the order of 4.5
million EUR.
18 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Executive Summary
The administrative burden associated with Options 1 and 3 is expected to remain limited as a
legislative framework is already in place in both cases19. Option 2 could generate higher
administrative burden due to significant communication and awareness raising efforts required
to achieve a shift in dental restorations practices.
Social impacts
Options 1, 2 and – to a greater extent – Option 3 would bring significant health-related benefits
by reducing occupational exposure of dental personnel and exposure of the general public to
environmental mercury emissions resulting from dental amalgam use.
With regard to possible direct health risks due to dental amalgam, it is not possible to draw any
conclusions given the diverging scientific results obtained to date. If more expensive restoration
techniques are used, there is a risk of deteriorating dental health in disadvantaged communities
due to higher treatment costs of cavities, if appropriate dental decay prevention programmes are
not in place and if dental care is not subsidised for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged
categories of the population, which depends largely on the public health policy of the Member
State. However, this issue goes somewhat beyond the debate on dental amalgam. Public
spending to ensure affordability of dental care also needs to be put in perspective with the
currently high environmental and indirect health impacts and costs of mercury pollution caused
by dental amalgam use, and the benefits associated with a reduction of these impacts for the
society at large, as mentioned above.
With regard to EU employment, the impact of the policy options is expected to be negligible. In
particular, as the vast majority of EU dental fillings manufacturers already produce Hg-free
materials20, a greater substitution of dental amalgam with Hg-free filling materials would not
significantly affect employment in this sector.
Conclusions
The most effective way to reach the policy objective, i.e. reducing the environmental impacts of
dental amalgam use, would be a combination of Options 1 and 3. While Option 1 tackles
environmental impacts from both historical and current dental amalgam use, it focuses on
releases from dental practices and is not sufficient in itself to address the whole range of mercury
releases from the dental amalgam life cycle (it does not address mercury releases from the
natural deterioration of amalgam fillings in people’s mouths, from cremation and burial, and
residual emissions to urban WWTPs). Option 3 would allow a significant reduction of dental
mercury releases within the next 15 years and would virtually eliminate the environmental
impacts of dental mercury in the longer term. However, because the cessation of mercury
releases, under Option 3, would only be significant after about 15 years, Option 3 needs to be
coupled with Option 1 in order to reduce mercury releases from historical use of amalgam in the
short term.
19
EU waste legislation for Option 1 ; REACH Regulation for Option 3
20
Out of the 61 EU main companies identified, only three companies (in CZ, in NL and in IT) produce solely mercury
for dental amalgam preparation
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 19
Executive Summary
Option 2 leaves more flexibility to Member States to implement national measures aimed at
reducing dental amalgam use, which would allow them to take into account national specificities
(e.g. current level of oral health, cost aspects, specificities of national health insurance schemes);
however, the effectiveness of this option is subject to high uncertainty since there would be no
binding targets to achieve. In order for this option to be effective in reducing environmental
impacts, the administrative costs incurred by public authorities may be higher than in the case of
Option 3 (significant awareness raising required in some Member States in order to induce a
change in dental restoration practices).
The ‘no policy change’ option cannot achieve a significant reduction of mercury pollution from
dental amalgam. Even if the progressive substitution of dental amalgam with Hg-free materials is
expected to continue in the future, a complete phase-out of dental amalgam is very unlikely to
happen. In this regard, it is interesting to note that, in Sweden, dentists’ organisations and the
National Board of Health and Welfare initially claimed that no legislative measures were needed
to reduce amalgam use because it would vanish by itself; however, this did not happen after
more than a decade, hence the decision of the authorities to introduce a ban. Following
implementation of the ban, the use of dental amalgam was rapidly phased out without any
problems.
The preferred combination of options is therefore Option 1 + Option 3. It would achieve the
highest effectiveness, while the associated costs are considered to be reasonable for the various
stakeholders, especially as they are considered to be outweighed by the associated
environmental and health benefits. The cost efficiency of Option 3 improves with: the
improvement of dentists’ skills in Hg-free restoration techniques (resulting in reduced placement
durations and therefore reduced labour costs); a gradual decrease in the price of Hg-free filling
materials thanks to continuous innovation and increased competitiveness within this industry
sector; good awareness of EU citizens on the fact that amalgam fillings in good condition do not
require substitution (national health authorities will have to implement clear communication on
this point); and the active promotion of cheaper Hg-free restoration techniques such as ART,
where adequate (especially in children). Implementing Option 1 should be relatively feasible from
a political point of view as it is about enforcing existing legal requirements (rather than creating
new requirements) and it is the logical follow-up of Action 4 of the EU Mercury Strategy21. The
implementation of Option 3 may be more challenging, not because of the actual costs of the
changes required, but mainly due to the changes in professional habits that need to occur among
dentists, especially in some Member States, and the time required for all EU dentists to be well
skilled at performing Hg-free restorations. The implementation of Option 3 can also be
considered as a logical follow-up of Action 8 of the EU Mercury Strategy22 and seems necessary
to achieve mercury-related requirements of EU legislation on water quality.
21
‘The Commission will review in 2005 Member States’ implementation of Community requirements on the treatment of
dental amalgam waste, and will take appropriate steps thereafter to ensure correct application’
22
‘The Commission will further study in the short term the few remaining products and applications in the EU that use
small amounts of mercury. In the medium to longer term, any remaining uses may be subject to authorisation and
consideration of substitution under the proposed REACH Regulation, once adopted’
20 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Executive Summary
Assessment of policy options to reduce
environmental impacts from mercury-containing
batteries
Mercury has already been eliminated from most batteries – button cell batteries being one of the
exemptions – as a result of hazardous substance restrictions imposed by the Batteries Directive23.
The Directive prohibits the placing on the market of all batteries and accumulators containing
more than 0.0005% Hg by weight, with the exception of button cells that are allowed up to a Hg
content of 2% by weight. Hence, the present study focuses on button cell batteries (‘button cells’)
which are one of the remaining uses of mercury in the EU. Button cell batteries are small, thin
energy cells that are commonly used in watches, hearing aids, and other electronic devices.
Problem definition
In 2010, the EU button cells market was estimated to be around 1,080 million units, with an
upward trend observed over the last few years. Currently, Hg-free button cells represent
approximately 39% of the EU button cell market. The quantity of mercury contained in these
button cell batteries is estimated at 1.4 to 8.8 t Hg24.
Mercury-containing button-cell batteries are a source of mercury pollution mainly because of
inadequate end-of-life waste management.
Although Hg-containing batteries are classified as hazardous waste by Commission Decision
2000/532/EC, only a certain proportion is required to be separately collected for further recycling:
the Batteries Directive requires that at least 25% of portable batteries and accumulators,
including button cells, be separately collected by September 2012, increasing to 45% by
September 2016 in each Member State. Besides, the minimum collection rate set by the
Directive is not achieved in all Member States. As a result, a significant proportion of Hgcontaining batteries ends up in incineration plants or landfills for non-hazardous waste (if mixed
with household waste). It is roughly estimated that, in 2009, approximately 88% of button cells
waste escaped separate waste collection schemes and ended up with mixed non-hazardous
waste25; the amount of mercury contained in these button cells was approximately 2.4 to
3.9 t Hg/year.
Non-hazardous waste treatment methods are not designed for battery waste; in the case of Hgcontaining button cell waste, such treatment methods have the potential to release mercury to
23
Directive 2006/66/EC on batteries and accumulators and waste batteries
24
The total Hg quantity is estimated based on typical ranges for the Hg content of the 3 main types of Hg-containing
button cells, combined by the typical ranges of weight for these button cells; hence the broad range of values
presented here
25
Based on data provided by the European Battery Recycling Association (EBRA)
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 21
Executive Summary
air, water and soil. This mercury may then become bioavailable and accumulate in biota, leading
to environmental and human health risks.
Increasing separate collection rates of batteries is a challenging task.
In the absence of further policy actions, the button cells waste collection rate in EU is likely to
progressively increase and reach the minimum thresholds set under the Batteries Directive, i.e.
25% by September 2012 and 45% by September 2016. However, it will probably take a long time
before high collection and recycling rates are achieved in all Member States. Thus, even a strong
enforcement of the Batteries Directive would not be sufficient to solve the problem of mercury
pollution due to inadequate management of button cell waste.
In the present study, the button cells collection rate reported for 2009, i.e. 12%26, has been used
as an estimate of the current situation, while the legislative target of 45% has been used as an
estimate of the likely situation in 2016.
The problem can be solved by substituting Hg-containing button cells by Hg-free alternatives.
According to the stakeholders consulted in the present study, Hg-free versions are now
commercially available for all applications of the four main types of button cells (Lithium, Silver
oxide, Alkaline and Zinc-air) in EU. A majority of stakeholders confirmed that the performance
parameters such as self-discharge, leak resistance, capacity and pulse capability of Hg-free
button cells are the same for all application areas as compared to traditional Hg-containing
button cells. Hg-free alternatives also have a similar shelf-life as compared to the Hg-containing
button cells. Costs of Hg-free alternatives are currently slightly higher (approximately 10%) than
Hg-containing versions; however, with a higher share of Hg-free button cells placed on the
market, the extra cost of these button cells will tend to be reduced. Also, the adverse
environmental and health effects of mercury (negative externalities) are currently not factored in
the price of Hg-containing button cell batteries.
The EU button cell market is already experiencing a shift towards Hg-free button cells.
This shift is expected to continue in the coming years, driven by recent developments in the
USA27 and environmental responsibility policies of the manufacturers; however, it is not known
how fast a complete phase-out of mercury would occur.
26
Based on data provided by the European Battery Recycling Association (EBRA)
27
Three US States (Maine, Connecticut and Rhode Island) have enacted legislations to ban the sale of mercurycontaining button cell batteries from mid-2011 (with an exemption for low sales volume silver oxide button cells until 1
January 2015 in the State of Maine, for economic reasons). In addition, all US battery manufacturers have voluntarily
committed to eliminating mercury in button cell batteries sold in the USA by 2011.
22 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Executive Summary
Policy objectives and options
The general objective of any future policies in relation to mercury in button cell batteries will be
to reduce the environmental impacts from the use of mercury in these products and to reduce
their contribution to the overall mercury problem. In the long-term, this should contribute to
achieving reduced mercury levels in the environment, at EU and global level, especially levels of
methylmercury in fish. This general objective may take decades to be achieved, as the present
levels of mercury in the environment are representative of past mercury emissions, and even
without further emissions it would take some time for these levels to fall.
This long-term policy objective can be achieved through specific policy actions aiming to restrict
and, where feasible, eliminate mercury from button cell batteries.
Two policy options have been selected for analysis:
Option 1: ‘No policy change’ (baseline scenario)
Option 2: Ban the placing on the market of mercury-containing button cell batteries
in the EU – This ban would involve deleting the exemption contained in (Article 4 (2)) of
the Batteries Directive, concerning the maximum allowable mercury content of button
cells. No exemption to this ban is proposed here, based on the feedback received from
industry stakeholders consulted as part of this study. It is assumed that the ban would
become applicable around 18-24 months after adoption of the legislative change, which
corresponds to the time that is likely to be required by the industry for the
implementation of this change.
Analysis of impacts
The evidence base for the analysis of impacts included previous studies28, EU market statistics
from Eurostat (PRODCOM) as well as information provided by stakeholders. As information from
PRODCOM is not available for button cell batteries specifically, the missing information was
collected via questionnaires and telephonic interviews with relevant stakeholders: button cells
manufacturers, recyclers, waste compliance organisations and industry associations.
Environmental impacts
In the ‘no policy’ change scenario, approximately 2.4 to 3.9 t Hg/year contained in button cell
batteries would continue to escape separate waste collection schemes and would therefore end
up with mixed non-hazardous waste (based on quantities estimated for 2010). A significant
proportion of the mercury present in non-hazardous waste cannot be sequestered by nonhazardous waste treatment methods and is therefore emitted to air, water and soil/groundwater
depending on the fate of the waste.
Option 2 would bring significant environmental benefits, as it would avoid the introduction of
around 5.1 t Hg/year contained in button cells placed on the EU market, when compared to the
baseline scenario. The resulting environmental emissions of mercury, due to inadequate end-of-
28
Previous studies in the context of the Batteries Directive review (see
http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/batteries/
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 23
Executive Summary
life management of the button cells, would also be avoided. However, the actual environmental
impacts of mercury from button cells, including adverse effects to ecosystems, will probably take
several decades to fully disappear given the potential for the emitted mercury to be transformed
into methylmercury and to bioaccumulate.
Economic impacts
An overview of the economic impacts associated with the two policy options is presented in
Table 1 below. The analysis showed that a ban on mercury in button cell batteries would have
very limited economic impacts with regard to the baseline scenario.
Table 1: Overview of economic impacts associated with the two policy options
Policy Option
Impact Indicator
Costs or turnover losses for
button cell
manufacturers/importers/traders
Competitiveness of EU battery
industry and innovation
Costs or turnover losses for
retailers
Cost for consumers
Costs or turnover losses for
waste collectors and recyclers
Administrative burden for MS
authorities
Option 1
‘No policy change’
Option 2
‘Mercury ban in button cell batteries’
0
≈
Marginal or neutral cost related to investments in R&D
and assembly lines adaptation for the button cell
manufacturers in EU
0
+
Would foster innovation and create additional
business opportunities for EU button cell companies
to play a leading role in the global context
0
0
Retailers will most likely pass on the increase in cost
(of purchase of alternatives to Hg-containing button
cells) entirely to consumers
0
?
An average Hg-free button cell sold in EU will cost
around 5-10% more (approximately an increase of
around EUR 0.04-0.18/unit of button cell) to the
consumer than the average Hg-containing button cell.
This impact may however be lower given the natural
evolution of market share of Hg-free button cells in EU
(which is expanding)
0
+
Up to 30-40% lower recycling cost for the recycling of
all button cell waste collected in EU, compared to
Option 1
0
≈
Marginal or neutral cost since Hg restrictions in
portable batteries (other than button cells) are already
implemented in EU under the Batteries Directive
++: Strongly positive impact / +: Positive impact / 0: No significant effect (similar to the baseline) / -: Negative impact
- -: Strongly negative impact / ≈: Marginal or negligible impact / ?: Uncertain impact
24 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Executive Summary
Social impacts
Under the ‘no policy change’ option, no significant changes are expected in the future with
regard to the number of jobs in the button cell industry or with regard to public health quality.
The phase-out of mercury in button cells (Option 2) may theoretically slightly affect the
employment generation in EU, primarily in relation to production and end-of-life management of
button cells. However, due to a lack of information concerning the extent of these impacts, their
quantification is not possible. Besides, Option 2 will have a positive impact on public health
quality in the long term, due to the elimination of exposure to mercury emissions associated with
the end of life of button cells.
Conclusions
Based on the analysis conducted in this study, the ban on the placing on the market of mercurycontaining button cells in the EU emerges out as a clear winner in terms of environmental
benefits, with very limited adverse economic impacts as compared with the ‘no policy change’
option. A legal ban would be to accelerate the transition to Hg-free alternatives and the
reduction of costs for the production of Hg-free button cells.
The phase-out of mercury in button cells placed on the EU market would foster innovation and
create further business opportunities for EU button cell manufacturers/importers/traders to play
a leading role in the global context, considering that Hg-containing buttons cells have already
been banned in other parts of the world (e.g. US States of Maine, Connecticut and Rhode Island)
and that mercury restrictions in button cells are also encouraged in China (through recent
guidelines published by national authorities).
Besides, such a policy option would encourage countries importing large amounts of button cells
to the EU market, such as China (where most button cells are manufactured), to accelerate the
switch to the manufacture of Hg-free button cells, which could have a global impact on the use of
mercury in this industry sector.
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 25
Executive Summary
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26 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Introduction
Chapter 1:
Introduction
T
his report presents the findings of the study on ‘Potential for reducing mercury pollution
from dental amalgam and batteries’ carried out for the European Commission (DG
Environment). It mainly consists of two assessments of policy options to reduce
environmental impacts from dental amalgam and mercury-containing batteries, respectively.
This introductory chapter explains the general context underlying the study, the objectives of the
study, and the overall approach and methodology followed.
1.1
The mercury issue
Mercury (Hg) and most of its compounds are highly toxic to humans, ecosystems and wildlife.
High doses can be fatal to humans, but even relatively low doses can have serious adverse
impacts on the developing neurological system, and have been linked with possible harmful
effects on the cardiovascular, immune, and reproductive systems. Mercury also retards
microbiological activity in soil, and is a priority hazardous substance under the Water Framework
Directive (2000/60/EC). According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a safe level of
mercury – below which no adverse effects occur – has not been established.
Mercury is a global pollutant, as airborne mercury can be transported over long distances (i.e.
across continents) depending on the speciation of mercury emissions and reaction pathways,
before being deposited on the Earth’s surface.
Mercury is persistent and can change in the environment into methylmercury, one of its most
toxic forms. Methylmercury accumulates in the food chain and humans can be exposed especially
through ingestion of contaminated food (e.g. contaminated fish). Methylmercury readily passes
both the placental barrier and the blood-brain barrier, inhibiting potential mental development
even before birth. Hence, exposure of women of childbearing age and children is of greatest
concern.
Although mercury is released by natural sources like volcanoes, additional releases from
anthropogenic sources, like coal burning and use in a wide range of products and processes, have
led to significant increases in environmental and human exposure. Past releases have also
created a ‘global pool’ of mercury in the environment, part of which is continuously mobilised,
deposited and re-mobilised. Further emissions add to this global pool circulating between air,
water, sediments, soil and biota. Estimates of current global anthropogenic air emissions are still
relatively uncertain and vary between 1,230 and 4,000 tonnes/year29. In addition to primary
29
Selin NE (2009) Global Biogeochemical Cycling of Mercury: A Review, Annual Review of Environment and Resources
34: 43-63; UNEP Chemicals (2008) The global atmospheric mercury assessment: sources, emissions and transport;
Pirrone N et al. (2010) Global mercury emissions to the atmosphere from anthropogenic and natural sources.
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussion
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 27
Introduction
emissions, mercury can be re-emitted once deposited. Natural emissions plus re-emissions are
estimated to be around 1,800-5,200 tonnes/year globally29.
The primary source of anthropogenic mercury emissions is coal combustion, accounting for 60%,
or even more, of global mercury emissions. Unintentional mercury emissions also occur in other
industrial processes (non-ferrous metal production, cement manufacture, etc.). For the EU-27,
atmospheric mercury emissions were estimated at approximately 73 t in 2009, having shown a
significant decrease since 1990 (-65% between 1990 and 2009)30. Emissions have continued to
decrease in recent years, although at a slower rate than in the 1990s.
Additional mercury emissions are also due to the intentional use of mercury in a wide range of
products and processes. At the global level, artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM)
remains the largest mercury use sector, other key uses being the production of vinyl chloride
monomers, the production of chlor-alkali and the use of mercury in batteries, dental fillings,
lamps and measuring and control devices. At EU level, mercury is used in more than 60 different
applications and mercury consumption was estimated to range between 320 and 530 tonnes in
200731. In 2007, the main applications in the EU were: chlor-alkali production (41% of total EU
mercury use), dental amalgam (24%), measuring equipment and techniques (16%), production of
chemicals (e.g. polyurethane elastomer representing 7%), batteries (4%) and light sources (3%).
According to these figures, once the use of mercury is phased out in chlor-alkali production in
accordance with EuroChlor’s voluntary agreement (target date 2020), dental amalgam will
become the largest mercury use in the EU.
The consequence of current mercury uses and associated emissions will be adding up to the
‘global mercury pool’. Part of the mercury from this global pool is continuously mobilised,
deposited and re-mobilised. It circulates between air, water, sediments, soil and biota, eventually
contaminating fish and causing other environmental problems, until it finally reaches a long-term
sink. While there is no prospect of an immediate solution to this problem, action can be taken
now in order to reduce the amount of new mercury released by human activities to this global
pool.
Mercury releases from mercury-containing products and processes contribute significantly to
overall mercury releases from anthropogenic activities in the EU.
The largest source of mercury exposure for most people in developed countries is inhalation of
mercury vapour from dental amalgam32. Exposure to methylmercury mostly occurs via diet.
30
EEA (2011) European Union emission inventory report 1990–2009 under the UNECE Convention on Long-range
Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP), Table 2.13 (http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/eu-emission-inventoryreport-1990-2009). Covers different types of emissions: energy production and distribution / energy use in industry /
industrial processes / solvent and product use / commercial, institutional and households (energy use) / road transport /
non-road transport / agriculture / waste management
31
COWI/Concorde (2008) Options for reducing mercury use in products and applications, and the fate of mercury
already circulating in society. Report for the European Commission, DG Environment
(http://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/mercury/pdf/study_report2008.pdf)
32
Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament – Community Strategy
Concerning Mercury – COM (2005) 20 final (http://eurlex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/site/en/com/2005/com2005_0020en01.pdf)
28 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Introduction
1.2
EU policy context
The health and environmental risks associated with mercury have led the EU to develop a
comprehensive strategy addressing mercury pollution both in the EU and globally. The
Commission adopted its Community Strategy concerning Mercury in 200532, setting out 20
actions with the aim to ‘reduce mercury levels in the environment and human exposure,
especially from methylmercury in fish’.
In December 2010, the Commission published a Communication on the review of the Community
Strategy concerning Mercury33. The review of the Strategy’s implementation34 showed that
significant progress had been made with regard to a number of actions proposed in 2005 such as
e.g. the adoption of the Mercury Export Ban Regulation35, the phase-out of mercury use in certain
measuring devices under the REACH Regulation36, the proposed restrictions for additional
mercury uses under REACH37, and the EU’s contribution to the progress of international
negotiations on the mercury treaty. The review also highlighted areas for further improvement,
among which the remaining uses of mercury in several applications where Hg-free alternatives
exist and are already used to some extent; this concerns in particular dental amalgam and button
cell batteries.
1.3
International policy context
Since the early 2000’s, various countries of the world have been cooperating within the
framework of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to reach agreement on
international measures to reduce mercury levels in the environment. Until now, these measures
have been implemented on a voluntary basis.
In February 2009, world environment ministers agreed that negotiations should be opened on a
Multilateral Environmental Agreement (MEA) on mercury within the framework of the UNEP.
Five meetings of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) to prepare a global, legally
33
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the review of the Community
Strategy Concerning Mercury, COM(2010)723final (http://eurlex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:52010DC0723:EN:NOT).
34
The EC’s Communication was informed by a report by BIO Intelligence Service prepared for DG ENV in 2010
(http://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/mercury/pdf/review_mercury_strategy2010.pdf)
35
Regulation (EC) No 1102/2008 of 22 October 2008 on the banning of exports of metallic mercury and certain mercury
compounds and mixtures and the safe storage of metallic mercury (http://eurlex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:32008R1102:EN:NOT)
36
Commission Regulation (EC) No 552/2009 of 22 June 2009 amending Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 on the
Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) as regards Annex XVII
37
Draft Commission Regulation amending Annex XVII to REACH as regards mercury use in additional measuring
devices (May 2012); Draft Commission Regulation amending Annex XVII to REACH as regards phenylmercury
compounds (May 2012)
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 29
Introduction
binding instrument on mercury are planned until 201338. The first four meetings took place in
June 2010, January 2011, October 2011 and June 2012.
The MEA on mercury is intended to cover the entire life cycle of mercury, from extraction to
permanent storage, as well as all the major sources of emissions. With regard to mercury use in
products and processes, the draft convention text currently includes a list of possible mercury
uses that have been proposed for prohibition measures39 (version of 27 June 2011). Dental
amalgam and batteries are currently included in this list, among other applications, with the
possibility to define allowable use exemptions. In the case of dental amalgam, a global phasedown of this application has been discussed during previous meetings (rather than specific
exemptions).
1.4
Objectives of the study
In a context of growing evidence concerning the adverse environmental effects of mercury
contained in dental amalgam and button cell batteries on the one hand, and recent policy
developments within Member States and at the international levels on these topics on the other
hand, this study aims to provide the Commission with an evidence base in order to inform future
EU policy actions. Specific objectives are as follows:
Establish the current situation with regards to the quantities of mercury used in dental
amalgam and batteries in the EU and examine the environmental impacts of these
products over their life cycle
Propose and compare relevant policy options in order to reduce the environmental
impact of these products and promote the use of Hg-free alternatives, with the
objective to minimise and, where feasible, eliminate mercury use, on the basis of their
respective economic, social, and environmental impacts.
38
Further details available on the UNEP mercury webpage:
www.unep.org/hazardoussubstances/MercuryNot/MercuryNegotiations/tabid/3320/language/en-US/Default.aspx
39
UNEP(DTIE)/Hg/INC.3/3. New draft text for a comprehensive and suitable approach to a global legally binding
instrument on mercury
(www.unep.org/hazardoussubstances/Mercury/Negotiations/INC3/INC3MeetingDocuments/tabid/3487/language/enUS/Default.aspx)
30 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Introduction
1.5
Overall approach, methodology and
timeframe
The study builds upon previous work conducted on the issue of mercury pollution from dental
amalgam and batteries at EU level. It aims to complement and update these previous studies, by
analysing the most recent data and by looking at the full EU picture.
The methodology included three main tasks as shown in the figure below.
Figure 3: Task structure
Task 1: Scientific/Market review and assessment of environmental impacts
• Subtask 1.1: Scientific review on health aspects of using dental amalgam
• Subtask 1.2: Assessment of environmental impacts from the use of dental amalgam in EU 27
• Subtask 1.3: Market review on dental amalgam and Hg-free alternatives
• Subtask 1.4: Market review on Hg-containing batteries and Hg-free alternatives
Task 2: Impact assessment (IA)
• Subtask 2.1: IA of policy options to reduce the environmental impact of dental Hg
• Subtask 2.2: IA of policy options to reduce the environmental impact of Hg from batteries
Task 3: Recommendations
• Subtask 3.1: Workshop
• Subtask 3.2: Conclusions and recommendations
Task 1
Task 1 aimed to develop an evidence base to inform the assessment of policy options in Task 2. It
consisted in collecting and analysing information and quantitative data to characterise the
environmental impacts of dental amalgam and assessing its contribution to the overall mercury
problem in the EU. It also included the preparation of a brief overview of the ongoing scientific
debate on health aspects of using dental amalgam, focusing on the most recent developments
on this topic. Market reviews related to dental amalgam and mercury-containing batteries, as
well as their Hg-free alternatives, were also conducted under Task 1.
While Subtask 1.1 relied on a review of scientific literature, the other subtasks relied on desktop
research complemented with stakeholder consultation through questionnaires and telephone
interviews.
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 31
Introduction
Dental amalgam
With regard to the dental amalgam issue, following the review of publicly available information,
tailored questionnaires were sent to various types of stakeholders in order to fill the information
gaps related to environmental and socio-economic aspects of the problem:
Environmental and health authorities within Member States (see the questionnaire
in Annex A)
Industry stakeholders: dental associations, dental fillings suppliers, waste treatment
industry, crematoria businesses and water treatment industry
NGOs and academic experts.
In total, questionnaires were sent to about 300 organisations/institutions. The following
responses were received:
Responses from environmental and/or health authorities from 20 Member
States40, with varying levels of detail (few Member States were able to provide
all relevant data)
5 responses from national dental associations (some additional dental
associations provided a joint response with national health authorities)
2 responses from dental fillings suppliers
4 responses from cremation organisations
5 responses from water treatment organisations
4 responses from NGOs and academic experts.
In addition, several dental fillings manufacturers, national dental associations and researchers
were contacted by telephone to obtain additional information and a telephone interview was
held with the Council of European Dentists (CED).
One major challenge is a lack of reliable and up-to-date data in many Member States on dental
amalgam use, related mercury emissions, and dental restoration costs, which required a number
of assumptions and extrapolations. Stakeholders active at the EU level (CED, FIDE41 and ADDE42)
informed that they do not hold data on dental amalgam use in the EU or any data on the size of
the EU market for dental amalgam.
40
AT, BE, BG, CZ, CY, DE, DK, EE, FI, FR, HU, IE, LT, LV, MT, PL, SE, SI, SK, UK. In addition, LU and RO advised that
they were not able to provide any valuable information in relation to the study.
41
Federation of the European Dental Industry
42
Association of Dental Dealers in Europe
32 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Introduction
Batteries
With regard to button cell batteries, a review of previous relevant studies43 was first carried out
and was followed by a review of the latest publicly available EU market statistics from Eurostat
(PRODCOM). As information from PRODCOM is not available at the necessary level of detail (in
particular, it does not provide specific data for button cell batteries), the information was
collected via questionnaires and telephonic interviews with relevant stakeholders: button cells
manufacturers, recyclers, waste compliance organisations and industry associations44. Main
stakeholders consulted include:
European Portable Battery Association (EPBA45)
European Battery Recycling Association (EBRA46)
Battery Compliance Organisations in the Member States (e.g. SCRELEC in
France, GRS in Germany, BEBAT in Belgium, REBAT in Hungary, STIBAT in
The Netherlands)
Battery recycling companies
Battery manufacturers (VARTA, Energizer, JVC, Sony, GP batteries,
Panasonic).
Task 2
Task 2 consisted of two assessments of policy options to reduce the environmental impacts of
mercury from dental amalgam and batteries, respectively. These assessments were based on
data collected and analysed during Task 1 of the study. The methodology employed to carry out
these assessments follows the Commission’s Impact Assessment Guidelines.
Task 3
Task 3 included a stakeholder consultation workshop held on 26 March 2012 during which the
preliminary findings of the study were presented and discussed with the stakeholders. Following
this workshop, stakeholders were invited to submit written comments on the draft report and
additional information to support the finalisation of the report.
43
Previous studies in the context of the Batteries Directive review (see
http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/batteries/
44
Five responses (button cells battery manufacturers) were received and phone interviews were carried out with
representatives of EPBA (European Portable Battery Association) and EBRA (European Battery Recycling Association).
45
www.epbaeurope.net
46
www.ebra-recycling.org/
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 33
Introduction
1.6
Document structure
This report is divided into two parts addressing the two issues:
Part A is an assessment of policy options to reduce environmental impacts
from dental amalgam use
Part B is an assessment of policy options to reduce environmental impacts
from mercury-containing batteries, with particular focus on button cell
batteries.
Each part of the report follows the same structure:
A definition of the problem to be addressed and the objectives of future policy
action (Chapter 2 in Part A and Chapter 6 in Part B)
A description of policy options to be investigated (Chapter 2 in Part A and
Chapter 7 in Part B)
An analysis of environmental, economic and social impacts of the selected
policy options (Chapter 3 in Part A and Chapter 8 in Part B)
A comparison of policy options to achieve the objectives previously set out,
and the conclusions of the assessment (Chapter 5 in Part A and Chapter 9 in
Part B).
The annexes of the report provide the evidence base developed as part of this project to support
the two assessments, as well as the questionnaire sent to the Member States. The evidence base
includes, in particular, an analysis of environmental impacts of the dental amalgam life cycle, a
literature review of the health impacts of dental amalgam, a market review of dental amalgam
and Hg-free alternatives, and a market review of mercury-containing and Hg-free button cell
batteries.
34 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Part A
PART A: Assessment of policy options to
reduce environmental impacts from dental
amalgam use
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 35
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36 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Part A - Problem definition and objectives
Chapter 2:
Problem definition and objectives
T
his chapter describes the problems associated with the use of dental amalgam, the main
drivers for these problems and the key actors. It also describes the current policy context,
the current situation with regard to environmental and socio-economic aspects of the
problem as well as the likely evolution of the impacts in the absence of any further EU policy
action. Finally, the objectives of future policy action to address the dental amalgam issue are
defined, in line with the problems and drivers identified.
It is important to note that this study focuses on the environmental impacts of dental amalgam
use and assesses policy options aiming to address these environmental concerns (which also lead
to indirect human health effects via diet). Current scientific knowledge and uncertainties on
possible direct health effects of dental amalgam are briefly mentioned in the problem definition
and are taken into account in the assessment of policy options; however, they are not the main
focus of this study.
2.1
Introduction
Dental amalgam is a combination of metals, containing about 50% of mercury in the elemental
form, the other metals being silver (about 35%), tin, copper, and other trace metals. Dental
amalgam has been used for over 150 years for the treatment of dental cavities and is still used
due to its specific mechanical properties and the long-term familiarity of many dental
practitioners with this material. Dental amalgam has been controversial ever since it was
introduced, early in the nineteenth century, because of potential risks due to its mercury content.
Mercury releases from the use of dental amalgam occur at different stages of the dental
amalgam life cycle, in particular during the placement of new fillings or the removal of old ones
at dental practices, at the end of life of persons with amalgam fillings (via cremation or burial),
and during the progressive deterioration of amalgam fillings in people’s mouths due to chewing,
ingestion of hot beverages and corrosion (mercury excreted by humans).
2.2
Policy context
2.2.1
EU policy context
In 2008, as part of the implementation of the Community Strategy concerning Mercury (Action 6
of the Strategy), the EC consulted two Scientific Committees on the environmental impact and
human safety of dental amalgam, the Committee for Environmental and Health Risks (SCHER)
and the Committee for Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR). With regard to
direct risks for public health, the SCENIHR concluded that – based on the studies reviewed – it
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 37
Part A - Problem definition and objectives
was not possible to demonstrate any links between dental amalgam and systemic diseases (e.g.
neurological disorders) and that Hg-free alternatives were also safe to use47. With regard to
environmental impacts, the SCHER concluded that on the basis of the information available, it
was not possible to ‘comprehensively assess the environmental risks and indirect health effects
from use of dental amalgam in the Member States (MS) of the EU 25/27’, and identified a number
of knowledge gaps48. In order to address these gaps, the SCHER suggested that the following
information be obtained:
More specific information on possible regional-specific differences in the use,
release and fate of mercury originating from dental amalgam
A comprehensive and updated data compilation on the effects to especially
(various) environmental species of mercury and methylmercury
A more comprehensive evaluation of atmospheric emissions and further
deposition of mercury from crematoria, taking into account EU-wide practices
and possible region-specific local scenarios
A comprehensive literature review of the bioaccumulation
biomagnification of methylmercury under different EU conditions
and
A detailed comparison of the relative contribution of dental mercury to the
overall mercury pool - originating from intended and non-intended mercury in the environment.
Action 4 of the EU Mercury Strategy involved a review by the Commission of ‘Member States’
implementation of Community requirements on the treatment of dental amalgam waste’, and
taking ‘appropriate steps thereafter to ensure correct application’. However, the 2010 review of the
Strategy’s implementation indicated that there were still significant compliance gaps with regard
to the implementation of EU waste legislation in dental practices, in several Member States.
Mercury emissions from cremation are not the subject of any specific action of the EU Mercury
Strategy and are not covered by any EU legislation; however, some policy options to address
these emissions were investigated as part of the Extended Impact Assessment (ExIA) of the
Strategy in 200549. This ExIA concluded that EU-level action was not appropriate at that stage,
mainly because most of the problem with mercury emitted from crematoria was covered by an
OSPAR Recommendation and by legislation in some of the remaining Member States which are
not parties to the OSPAR Convention50. It should be noted, however, that a previous
recommendation from the OSPAR Convention, i.e. the recommendation to phase out mercury
use in chlor-alkali plants (PARCOM Decision 90/3), has proven to be poorly implemented and the
47
SCENIHR (2008) The safety of dental amalgam and alternative dental restoration materials for patients and users
(http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_risk/committees/04_scenihr/docs/scenihr_o_016.pdf)
48
SCHER (2008) Opinion on the environmental risks and indirect health effects of mercury in dental amalgam
(http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_risk/committees/04_scher/docs/scher_o_089.pdf)
49
EC, 2005, Extended Impact assessment of the Community Strategy concerning Mercury
(http://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/mercury/pdf/extended_impact_assessment.pdf)
50
The OSPAR Convention covers twelve Member States: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland,
Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
38 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Part A - Problem definition and objectives
target date of 2010 has not been met51. The ExIA also noted that available data on the extent of
emissions from cremation were limited and that future reporting required by the OSPAR
Recommendation would provide an initial indication of the extent to which the Recommendation
is being applied. No further analysis could be made as part of the Mercury Strategy’s review in
2010, due to a lack of recent data.
Given the abovementioned data gaps and the implementation gaps with regard to EU waste
legislation applicable to dental amalgam waste, the Commission – in its Communication on the
review of the Strategy – expressed its intention to undertake in 2011 a study to assess the use of
mercury in dental amalgam, with due consideration to all aspects of its lifecycle.
In March 2011, the Environment Council welcomed the Strategy’s review and the significant
progress achieved in implementing the Strategy by adopting Council Conclusions52. In its
Conclusions, the Council invited the Commission and Member States to ‘consider, where
appropriate, the possible need for measures to reduce the environmental impact of mercury in dental
amalgam’, on the basis of the investigation planned by the Commission.
2.2.2
Initiatives in EU Member States
Some Member States have put in place legislation that goes beyond EU policy concerning the
issue of dental amalgam, in particular:
Recommendations from health authorities to restrict the use of dental
amalgam (e.g. in vulnerable patients) (DE, FR, IT, and Catalonia in ES) or legal
provisions to partially or totally prohibit the use of dental amalgam (DK and
SE)
Mandatory installation of amalgam separators in dental facilities (AT, BE, CZ,
DE, FR, FI, IT, LV, MT, NL, PT, SE, SI, and the UK)
Emission Limit Values (ELVs) for mercury and/or requirement for mercury
abatement devices at crematoria (BE, CZ, DE, DK, FR, IT, LU, NL, and the UK)
More stringent mercury limit values in sewage sludge used for agricultural
purposes (in many Member States).
Further details on national legislation concerning dental amalgam is provided in Annex B.
51
There is, however, a voluntary commitment from Euro Chlor to phase out mercury use in EU chlor-alkali production
by 2020.
52
Council of the EU, Council conclusions – Review of the Community Strategy concerning Mercury, Brussels, 14 March
2011 (www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/envir/119867.pdf)
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 39
Part A - Problem definition and objectives
2.2.3
International policy context
In addition to the global mercury treaty under preparation (see Section 1.3), the mercury issue is
covered by several existing international agreements. The OSPAR Convention53 is of particular
relevance to this study: Parties to the OSPAR Convention, which include twelve EU Member
States, have recommended that Best Available Techniques to reduce mercury air emissions from
cremation should be used (OSPAR Recommendation 2003/4, as amended54). The HELCOM
Recommendation 29/155 on the reduction of emissions from crematoria, which applies to three
EU Member States (DK, FI, and SE), also recommends that mercury emissions be kept below the
limit value of 0.1 mg/Nm3 in crematoria with a capacity exceeding 500 cremations/year.
In November 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Oral Health Programme - in
cooperation with UNEP Chemicals - organised a meeting to discuss the implications to dental
care of reduction in mercury release and usage, and the way forward. The aim of the meeting
was to assess the scientific evidence available on dental restorative materials and the
implications to countries of using alternatives to amalgam for dental restorative care. This
meeting encouraged a global ‘phasing-down’ of the use of dental amalgam and supported the
introduction of dental materials alternative to amalgam, although considering that a complete
ban was, in 2009, not yet appropriate at the global scale56.
Outside these multilateral agreements, several non-EU countries have taken measures going
beyond current EU policy to restrict mercury use in products and processes. For example, Japan,
Norway and Switzerland have restricted or almost totally banned the use of dental amalgam,
among other mercury uses (through legislation and/or voluntary measures).
Further details on international policies and best practices concerning dental amalgam are
presented in Annex B.
2.3
Problem definition
2.3.1
Dental amalgam use
Dental amalgam is one of the main remaining uses of mercury in the EU. In this study, EU
consumption of dental amalgam is estimated to represent between 55 and 95 t Hg per year in
2010 with an average value of 75 t Hg per year (further details are provided in Section 2.6.1.1). In
2007, dental amalgam was the second largest mercury use in the EU after chlor-alkali
production31; it is expected to become the largest mercury use once mercury cell-based chlor-
53
OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (www.ospar.org)
54
www.ospar.org/v_measures/browse.asp
55
www.helcom.fi/Recommendations/en_GB/rec29_1/?u4.highlight=mercury ban
56
WHO (2010) Future Use of Materials for Dental Restoration
(www.who.int/oral_health/publications/dental_material_2011.pdf)
40 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Part A - Problem definition and objectives
alkali production is phased out in accordance with EuroChlor’s voluntary agreement (target date
2020).
2.3.2
Environmental aspects of dental amalgam use
The mercury problem has been briefly described in the introduction to this report (Section 1.1)
and further information is available in the EU Mercury Strategy32 or in the UNEP Global Mercury
Assessment57.
The current levels of mercury pollution in the EU are such that all the EU population is exposed to
mercury above the natural background level and certain population groups such as high-level fish
consumers, women of childbearing age and children are subject to high risk levels, principally due
to their high exposure and/or high vulnerability to mercury in the form of methylmercury, which
is ingested through the diet. This presents a risk of negative impacts on health, in particular
affecting the nervous system and diminishing intellectual capacity.
There are also environmental risks, for example the disturbance of microbiological activity in soils
and harm to wildlife populations. The effects of mercury releases on the integrity of the
ecosystem are substantial. Various species – especially eagles, loons, kingfishers, ospreys, ibises,
river otters, mink and others that rely on fish for a large part of their diet – have been observed to
suffer adverse health and/or behavioural effects. Observed disorders such as effects on the
muscles and nervous system, reduced or altered mating habits, ability to reproduce, raise
offspring, catch food and avoid predators have been demonstrated to affect individual animal
viability and overall population stability. According to calculations based on the critical load
concept58, more than 70% of the European ecosystem area is estimated to be at risk today due to
mercury, with critical loads for mercury exceeded in large parts of western, central and southern
Europe59.
Although dental use of mercury seems to have been declining over the last few years, it remains
a significant contributor to overall environmental mercury releases in the EU. In the
environmental assessment presented in Annex C of this report, it was roughly estimated that
45 t Hg/year from EU dental practices end up in chairside effluents, with only a part of which
being captured and treated as hazardous waste in compliance with EU legislation. Mercury in
dental waste represents about 50 t Hg/year. Estimates developed in this study suggest that
dental amalgam is a significant contributor to overall EU environmental emissions of mercury
from human activities (see Table 17 in Annex C). Mercury emitted to the air can be partly
deposited into other environmental compartments (soil, surface water, vegetation). Emissions to
57
UNEP (2002) Global Mercury Assessment Report
58
This concept is mainly based on ecotoxicological effects and human health effects via ecosystems. It is generally
defined as a quantitative estimate of an exposure to one or more pollutants below which significant harmful effects on
specified sensitive elements of the environment do not occur.
59
Hettelingh, J.P., J. Sliggers (eds.), M. van het Bolcher, H. Denier van der Gon, B.J.Groenenberg, I. Ilyin, G.J. Reinds, J.
Slootweg, O. Travnikov, A. Visschedijk, and W. de Vries (2006). Heavy Metal Emissions, Depositions, Critical Loads
and Exceedances in Europe. VROM-DGM report, www.mnp.nl/cce, 93 pp.; CEE Status Reports 2008 (Chapter 7,
http://www.rivm.nl/thema/images/CCE08_Chapter_7_tcm61-41910.pdf) and 2010 (Chapter 8,
http://www.rivm.nl/thema/images/SR2010_Ch8_tcm61-49679.pdf)
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 41
Part A - Problem definition and objectives
soil and groundwater are also significant, although their contribution to overall mercury releases
to this environmental compartment is more difficult to quantify. It is estimated that about half of
the mercury released from current and historical dental amalgam use remains potentially
bioavailable, with the potential to contaminate fish in particular, the other half being either
sequestered for long-term (stored in hazardous waste landfills) or recycled for new purposes.
The problem of mercury pollution from dental amalgam is twofold: in the first place, pollution is
caused by the historical use of dental amalgam, while the current use of dental amalgam adds up
to mercury releases from historical practice. The drivers of the problems identified can be
described as a combination of market and regulatory failures.
2.3.2.1
Pollution caused by historical use of dental amalgam
Some of the emissions associated with the historical use of dental amalgam, e.g. emissions from
burial and emissions from amalgam deterioration in mouths, are difficult to tackle due to their
diffuse nature. However, a significant part of these emissions can be minimised through proper
waste and wastewater management in dental facilities and the use of efficient mercury
abatement devices in crematoria.
The handling of dental amalgam waste as hazardous waste (which usually involves the use of
efficient amalgam separators, the segregation of amalgam waste from other waste types and its
treatment as hazardous waste) is a matter of enforcing EU legislation on waste60. Adequate
handling of dental amalgam waste is also necessary to achieve certain goals of EU legislation on
water quality61: mercury is considered as a priority hazardous substance, requiring a cessation of
emissions, discharges and losses within 20 years after adoption of measures. Only in 14 Member
States, national legislation has been adopted to specifically oblige dental facilities to be equipped
with efficient amalgam separators. In most other Member States, in the absence of specific
national legislation or guidance from national authorities, many dental practices are still not
equipped with amalgam separators. The present study estimated that around 25% of EU dental
facilities are still not equipped with amalgam separators at present. The situation differs widely
across Member States, as shown in Table 39 (of Annex H). Besides, previous studies have shown
that a significant proportion of separators are not adequately maintained, which can significantly
reduce their mercury capture efficiency; in the present study, it is roughly assumed that currently
functioning separators have an average efficiency of 70%, while they are normally designed to
achieve a minimum 95% efficiency when maintained in good condition. Although it is much
easier to capture mercury at dental facilities than once it is mixed with other urban effluents, the
installation and maintenance costs of an amalgam separator are borne by dentists, while local
authorities bear the cost of removing mercury from urban sewage sludge.
In the absence of further policy action, the share of dental practices equipped with amalgam
separators is likely to increase slowly in line with the replacement rate of old dental chairs (as
new chairs are generally equipped with amalgam separators). However, in the absence of a
60
Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC)
61
In particular: Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC), Decision 2001/2455/EC and Directive 2006/11/EC on
dangerous substances and Directive 2008/105/EC on priority substances
42 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Part A - Problem definition and objectives
stronger enforcement of EU waste legislation, it will probably take a long time before all dental
facilities are equipped with separators and properly maintained, so that at least 95% of amalgam
particles are captured.
With regard to mercury emissions from crematoria, which are not addressed by EU legislation,
they seem to have remained stable since 2005 due to an increased number of crematoria
equipped with mercury abatement devices. Based on the latest estimates, crematoria are
responsible for approximately 4% of overall EU mercury releases to the atmosphere62; however,
there is significant uncertainty on reported emission data (see Annex C for details). This
stabilisation of emissions may be partly attributed to the implementation of the OSPAR
Recommendation in twelve Member States63. In addition, large emitters such as the UK and
France have recently implemented more stringent legislation aiming to limit mercury emissions
from crematoria. However, it is difficult to predict how EU emissions will evolve in future in the
absence of further policy actions, as emission reduction efforts can be partly offset by the
increasing cremation rate and the increasing proportion of deceased people having amalgam
fillings.
2.3.2.2
Pollution caused by current use of dental amalgam
With regard to the current use of dental amalgam, solutions are available to minimise mercury
emissions from amalgam waste and to phase out mercury use in most medical conditions.
As in the case of historical amalgam use (see the previous sub-section), emissions related to
waste and wastewater management are first a matter of effective enforcement of EU waste
legislation in Member States and a necessity to comply with long-term requirements of EU
legislation on water quality.
The current use of dental amalgam will also generate environmental pollution at later stages of
the dental amalgam life cycle (deterioration of amalgams in people’s mouths, emissions from
cremation and burial, etc.), leading to problems similar to those described in the previous subsection.
Although Hg-free alternatives to dental amalgam exist and can be used in most medical
conditions, they are still not widely used in a number of Member States (e.g. FR, PL, UK, CZ, RO,
ES, and GR). The main reasons behind this situation are as follows (the aspects below are further
developed in the next sections of this report):
Hg-free dental restorations are more expensive for patients, as compared with
dental amalgam restorations, in many Member States. This is both due to the
higher actual cost of most Hg-free restorations (the Atraumatic Restorative
Treatment or ‘ART’ being an exception) and the fact that the reimbursement
of Hg-free restorations by the existing national health insurance schemes is
not always as advantageous for patients as in the case of dental amalgam.
62
EU mercury releases to the atmosphere estimated at 73 t in 2009 according to LRTAP data
63
BE, DE, DK, ES, FI, FR, IE, LU, NL, PT, SE, UK. Czech Republic seems to be the only Member State, despite not being
party to the OSPAR Convention that has legislation to address mercury emissions from crematoria in place.
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 43
Part A - Problem definition and objectives
Not all EU dentists are properly trained and skilled in conducting Hg-free
restorations, and insufficiently trained dentists may be more reluctant to
propose Hg-free restorations to patients. This may be partly due to a lack of
initial training in Hg-free techniques in dental schools, although the situation
is improving in some Member States. The lack of adequate skills can also
reduce the longevity of Hg-free fillings (as it is very sensitive to the quality of
the intervention).
Many dentists are not aware of the benefits of ART (Atraumatic Restorative
Treatment), a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly Hg-free restoration
technique using hand tools and glass ionomers, already widely used in
developing countries but also increasingly used in developed countries (for
restorations not requiring a high longevity) (see further details in Box 1,
Section 2.6.1.1).
While glass ionomers have a shorter durability, some dentists consider that
Hg-free fillings using composite materials also have a lower durability than
amalgam fillings, in spite of recent technical improvements.
Some dentists are reluctant to change their current practice and to invest in
new equipment required to handle Hg-free fillings. In parallel, they may not be
fully aware of the seriousness of the environmental impacts caused by dental
amalgam and of the extent of societal benefits of reducing mercury emissions.
Not all patients are fully aware of the pros and cons associated with the
different types of filling materials. In particular, many patients are not aware
of the presence of mercury in dental amalgam and the extent of the
associated environmental impacts.
Some dentists consider that, although Hg-free materials have been used in
some countries for many years, the absence of long-term environmental and
health effects of these materials has not been fully demonstrated.
The fact that Hg-free dental restorations are usually more expensive than dental amalgam
restorations for patients can be seen as a market failure in the sense that negative externalities
associated with the use of dental amalgam are not factored in the cost of dental amalgam
restorations. These externalities correspond to the costs of managing mercury pollution from
dental amalgam use (waste management, treatment of emissions to air and water, etc.) and the
costs of environmental and health damages resulting from environmental releases of dental
mercury; such costs are not paid by the dental industry, the dental practitioners or their patients,
but fall to the society at large. A recent report published by several NGOs attempted to quantify
these negative externalities in the USA64. This report estimated that, if externalities were added
64
Concorde (2012) The real cost of dental mercury – Report prepared for the European Environmental Bureau (EEB),
the Mercury Policy Project and Consumers for Dental Choice
(http://www.zeromercury.org/index.php?option=com_phocadownload&view=file&id=158:the-real-cost-of-dentalmercury&Itemid=70)
44 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Part A - Problem definition and objectives
to the average price of an amalgam restoration, the price of such a restoration would be 28% to
47% higher65. Comparing these values with the average price of a composite restoration, the
report concludes that the ‘real cost’ of an amalgam filling is at least equivalent to that of a
composite restoration, but could be up to 14% higher in the worst case. A similar result could be
expected in the case of the EU, where environmental emissions of dental mercury are not better
managed than in the USA and the cost difference between amalgam and composite restorations
(in %) is relatively close to the percentage estimated for the US market.
2.3.3
Health aspects of dental amalgam use
Possible human health impacts of dental amalgam are still the subject of scientific debate. While
there is a common viewpoint among stakeholders that the adverse environmental effects of
dental amalgam use need to be addressed, there is currently no scientific consensus on the direct
health effects of dental amalgam. For this reason, future policy actions concerning dental
amalgam addressed in this study focus on the environmental side of the problem. However,
because direct health impacts are relevant to the overall assessment, a short review of the
scientific literature on such aspects has also been included.
A summary of the current status of the scientific debate is presented here, highlighting the few
areas of consensus and the main disputed issues. This summary is based on a detailed literature
review that can be found in Annex D.
The health effects of dental amalgam have been controversial ever since this material was
introduced, early in the nineteenth century, because of its mercury content. Recent evidence that
small amounts of mercury are continuously released from amalgam fillings has fuelled the
controversy. The release rate of mercury vapour from amalgams is dependent on several
parameters: filling size, tooth characteristics, texture and temperature of ingested food, as well
as the surface area, composition, and age of the amalgam. Mercury from amalgam may be
transformed into more toxic organic mercury compounds (e.g. methylmercury) by
microorganisms present in the oral cavity, in the gastrointestinal tract, and in the natural
environment. It has also been shown dental amalgam is by far the main source of human total
mercury body burden; this is proven by autopsy studies which found 2-12 times more mercury in
body tissues of individuals with dental amalgam. Although there is some consensus on the fact
that people with amalgam fillings are exposed to some mercury released from the amalgam, the
magnitude of this exposure is subject to controversy. The SCENIHR report (2008) highlighted
that the mercury exposure of individuals having mercury fillings is 5 to 30 times lower than limit
values for occupational exposure. However, the method used to determine this exposure – which
is generally the concentration of mercury in urine and blood – has often been criticised. A number
of experiments with animals and humans showed that despite normal or low mercury levels in
Externalities calculated by the report correspond to the costs of preventing 90% of dental mercury releases from
entering the environment. A number of assumptions are made with regard to the pathways of dental mercury into the
environment and the applicability and costs of different end-of-pipe solutions to capture these emissions.
65
Estimated average prices of restorations in the USA: US$144 (~ EUR 146) for an amalgam filling and US$185 (~ EUR
113) for a composite filling; thus, on average, composite restorations are 29% more expensive than amalgam
restorations.
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 45
Part A - Problem definition and objectives
blood, hair, and urine, high mercury levels were found in critical organs such as brain and kidney.
Indirect exposure can also occur once the mercury contained in amalgams is released into the
environment (e.g. the aquatic environment). The exposure to environmental methylmercury
most frequently occurs through ingestion of fish and seafood consumption.
Exposure to mercury contained in amalgams can cause allergies and may increase the risk of
neurological diseases, kidney diseases, autism, autoimmune diseases, and birth defects. While
the allergic and other hypersensitivity disorders due to mercury or the other alloy metals
contained in dental amalgam are widely accepted, there is no scientific consensus on the other
health impacts and, for some scientists, existing studies show little evidence of specific dental
amalgam related effects. Pregnant women and children have been the subject of several studies
and were found to be more susceptible to lower exposure levels when compared with the rest of
the population. Mercury from maternal amalgam fillings is associated with an increase in
mercury concentration in the tissues and the hair of foetuses and newborn children. Evidence of
neurotoxicity from prenatal methylmercury exposure is now considered sufficient for high
exposure levels, but again there is no consensus on the health effects related to specific mercury
exposure from dental amalgam.
No link has been observed between mercury exposure and negative health effects with respect
to dentist mortality, although the mercury blood level is higher in dentists than in a reference
population. Adverse health effects on dental nurses’ reproductive health were observed in nurses
who handled amalgam without adequate measures to protect them from exposure to mercury
vapours. Appropriate handling can significantly reduce exposure to mercury, however amalgam
is still handled without sufficient protection from mercury exposure in some dental clinics. In
terms of neurological or renal diseases, no consistent result was found in a study in Denmark
while in other studies signs of stress for renal dysfunction and changes in the brain electrical
activity were observed following mercury exposure in dental workers. When considering selfreported symptoms, studies on dental staff workers show increased neuropsychological
complaints.
There is also some debate on further research needs. Some scientists recommend additional
studies particularly for investigation of neurodegenerative diseases and immune effects on
infants and children, sex-related differences, and susceptibility to mercury toxicity, while others
consider that enough research has already been carried out on the subject.
46 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Part A - Problem definition and objectives
2.4
Who is affected?
As a significant contributor to overall mercury pollution, dental amalgam use affects the entire
EU population. All individuals are exposed to mercury pollution to some degree. However, some
groups are particularly vulnerable to the health effects of mercury pollution:
High-level fish consumers; for example, EU populations living in coastal areas
are more likely to be exposed to higher levels of methylmercury;
Children (in particular, due to the increased vulnerability of their developing
nervous system);
Women of childbearing age (due to the increased vulnerability of the foetus).
Mercury pollution may also negatively affect some activity sectors such as the fishing industry, if
levels of methylmercury affect the marketability of fish or consumer confidence.
Other key actors likely to be affected include:
Dentists, due to possible health effects of exposure to mercury vapours in dental
practices and due to the costs for complying with EU waste legislation and the
change in habits and equipment required when using alternative methods to
dental amalgam restoration; a change in patients’ dental care habits may also
impact their revenues
Dental assistants, which may be exposed to mercury vapours in dental practices
and associated health hazards
Dental patients, which have to bear possible cost differences between dental
amalgam and Hg-free restoration techniques (possible direct health effects of
dental amalgam are not considered here given the current lack of scientific
consensus on several aspects of the problem)
Companies involved in the manufacture and supply of dental fillings, and in the
supply of raw materials for their manufacture, through the revenue they get
from their activities, as well as the associated jobs
Operators of urban wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), local authorities and
EU citizens, because of the possible extra costs in sewage sludge management
caused by the presence of mercury
Companies providing solutions to manage dental amalgam waste, through the
revenue they get from their activities, and the associated jobs
Operators of crematoria, which may have to bear costs for capturing mercury in
flue gases
Public authorities, due to the administrative burden associated with the
enforcement of policy measures required to address pollution from dental
mercury
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 47
Part A - Problem definition and objectives
Private health insurance companies, through the revenues they get from the
coverage of dental restoration costs.
2.5
Justification for an EU action
First of all, the mercury pollution issue is a transboundary issue, as airborne mercury can be
transported over long distances (i.e. across continents). An EU action would therefore be more
effective than uncoordinated actions by the Member States to address this issue.
Because mercury pollution is a global issue, international cooperation is essential. Environmental
impacts from dental amalgam use are one of the key issues discussed as part of the international
negotiations to prepare a multilateral environmental agreement on mercury by 2013. A global
‘phase-down’ of dental amalgam use is being considered as one of the commitments that may be
included in the future agreement. Complying with this potential commitment will require
coordinated action from the EU.
In addition, some of the problems identified are due to poor enforcement of EU legislation on
waste and lack of anticipation of measures required to comply with EU legislation on water
quality, at Member State level. Only action at EU level is relevant to address these failures.
Finally, with regard to the substitution of dental amalgam by Hg-free materials, some of the key
obstacles identified are the unequal levels of dentists’ environmental awareness concerning the
mercury issue and the unequal skills of dentists in Hg-free techniques, from one Member State to
another. It turns out that some Member States would benefit from the experience gained in
Nordic Member States where Hg-free fillings have been used for a longer period of time. Action
at EU level would foster the sharing of best practices related to Hg-free dentistry and would
make the diffusion of such best practices quicker and more effective than uncoordinated action
by the Member States.
2.6
Baseline scenario
This section provides a description of the current environmental and socio-economic aspects of
dental amalgam use as well as their likely evolution under a ‘business as usual’ scenario. Before
describing these environmental and socio-economic aspects, an analysis of the current and
future demand for dental amalgam in the EU is presented, as dental amalgam demand is a key
parameter in the present study.
In this study, the time horizon chosen for the description of the baseline scenario and the
impacts’ analysis is a 15-year horizon running from 2010 to 2025.
Due to the limited quantity of data provided by the stakeholders consulted during the study, the
significant uncertainties associated with some of the data, and the extrapolations that had to be
made in order to obtain the EU27 picture, it must be stressed that the quantitative information
presented in this baseline scenario should be considered as rough estimates. However, it is
considered that these rough estimates provide a sufficient evidence basis to compare the relative
impacts of the different policy options.
48 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Part A - Problem definition and objectives
2.6.1
Demand for dental amalgam and other filling
materials
2.6.1.1
Current situation
Dental amalgam
Estimates of mercury use associated with dental amalgam were provided by dental associations
and national health authorities in 10 Member States. For the other Member States, data was
either obtained from previous studies (FR, PL) or roughly estimated according to the
methodology detailed in Annex E (15 Member States) which establishes correlations between
population counts and dental amalgam use for three different groups of countries. In most
Member States, the data provided corresponds to 201066. The detailed methodology and results
are provided in Annex E.
The estimated annual demand for dental mercury per Member State, using this approach, is
shown in Figure 4 below. At EU27 level, it amounts to 55 t Hg/year in 2010.
Estimates provided by Member States are often derived from calculations based on the number
of restorations covered by the respective national health insurance schemes. As amalgam may
also be used in the private dental sector (although probably to a lesser extent than in the public
sector), the estimates provided by Member States are considered to represent the lower end of
the possible range of values concerning dental mercury use. In addition, environmental NGOs
have argued that dental amalgam use data reported by national health authorities and dental
associations is likely to be lower than actual values, considering previous occurrences of underreported mercury use or emissions in other industry sectors67.
Given the downward trend in the use of dental amalgam in the EU (see the next section), the
maximum possible value for dental mercury use is taken as the average value estimated by a
previous study for the Commission, corresponding to year 2007, which amounts to 95 t Hg/year68.
The range of values used in the rest of this study is therefore 55 to 95 t Hg/year for the year 2010,
with an average value of 75 t Hg/year.
66
In Slovenia the reference year is 2001. In Czech Republic, the data corresponds to an annual average for the period
2006-2011. In France, data derives from 2003 estimates on dental restorations. Polish estimates rely on dental
treatment statistics from 2006.
67
As an example of under-reported mercury use, Swedish authorities reported an annual use of 24 kg Hg in batteries in
2003, while the actual figure was at least six times larger (KemI (2004) Report 4/04. Mercury – investigation of a general
ban, Report by the Swedish Chemicals Inspectorate in response to a commission from the Swedish Government;
Hylander, L.D. (2005) Based on trade statistics on batteries from Statistics Sweden and analyses of mercury content of
various batteries). Another example of publicly under-reported mercury figures relates to mercury emissions from
global waste incineration which are grossly underestimated in official reporting and need to be multiplied by a factor
up to five (Pacyna, E.G., and Pacyna, J.M. (2002) Global emission of mercury from anthropogenic sources in 1995,
Water Air Soil Pollut. 137, 149, 2002)
68
COWI/Concorde (2008) Options for reducing mercury use in products and applications, and the fate of mercury
already circulating in society. Report for the European Commission, DG Environment
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 49
Part A - Problem definition and objectives
Figure 4: Demand for dental mercury in EU Member States (t Hg/year)
France
Poland
Romania*
United Kingdom
Czech Republic
Germany
Greece*
Spain*
Slovakia*
Austria
Lithuania*
Belgium*
Slovenia
Portugal*
Ireland
Bulgaria
Netherlands*
Hungary*
Italy
Latvia*
Malta*
Denmark
Cyprus*
Finland*
Luxembourg*
Estonia*
Sweden
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
Source: Data provided by national dental associations and/or health authorities via the study questionnaire, taken from
previous studies or estimated by BIO using available data.
*Estimated by BIO
This estimate is lower than the estimate published in a previous study carried out in 200869.
Another previous study estimated the use of dental mercury consumption at approximately 110 t
in 1990 for EU15 and 70 t in 200070. A gradual decrease in amalgam use in the EU is consistent
with the results of a survey carried out by the Council of European Dentists (CED) in 2010,
according to which the use of dental amalgam was decreasing in 27 of the 31 countries that
responded. The greatest decreases have been observed in countries that have restricted or
phased out the use of dental amalgam.
While the gradual decrease in the use of dental amalgam by dentists over the last few years is
probably the main reason why dental amalgam demand estimated in this study is lower than
69
COWI and Concorde E/W (2008): 80-110 t Hg in 2007
70
RPA (2002) Risks to health and the environment related to the use of mercury products, Report for European
Commission - DG Enterprise(http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/sectors/chemicals/files/studies/rpa-mercury_en.pdf)
50 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Part A - Problem definition and objectives
previous estimates, it should be noted that these estimates are based on different sources of
information. For example, the 2008 estimates by COWI/Concorde appear to be based on
information provided by some dental fillings manufacturers, while in the present study the
information mainly comes from national health authorities and dental associations (more than 20
dental fillings manufacturers/suppliers were contacted but only one reply was received;
additionally, the FIDE and ADDE industry federations and the CED did not provide any EU-wide
data on dental amalgam production or consumption figures).
As shown in Figure 4, France appears to have the highest consumption, at some 30% of the total
EU demand. Together with Poland, these two countries seem to account for almost 50% of
dental amalgam demand in the EU 27. However, it should be noted that the French value relies
on dental treatment statistics from 200371 while the Polish value relies on dental treatment
statistics from 200672; these values may therefore have reduced over the last few years as it was
observed in other Member States.
Encapsulated vs. bulk mercury
In 2007, the share of bulk mercury in dentistry was estimated at approximately 30%31. According
to a survey carried out by the CED in 2010 covering 29 European countries, in 12 countries the use
of encapsulated dental amalgam was required by law and, overall, in 23 countries the use of bulk
mercury was reducing (as the survey was anonymous, the concerned Member States cannot be
identified). As part of the present study, little additional information was obtained on this aspect.
Ireland, Latvia, Austria, Italy and France replied that the use of bulk mercury is limited or
nonexistent in their countries. In Germany, 22% of total dental mercury consumed is reportedly
in bulk form.
Imports and exports
Previous estimates on production of dental amalgam in the EU27 corresponded to 130 t Hg for
2007 and the demand was approximately 95 t Hg; in addition, approximately 25 t of dental Hg
were imported and 60 t exported31. These values were based on the assumption that 40% to 50%
of dental amalgam produced in the EU was exported whereas 20% to 30% of the EU25 demand
was imported. By applying these shares to dental amalgam use estimated in the present study, it
can be estimated that currently approximately 100 t of dental Hg is produced in EU27, of which
47 t are exported, while an additional 20 t are imported in the EU.
71
AFSSAPS (2005) Le mercure des amalgames dentaires
(http://www.bastamag.net/IMG/pdf/rapport_afssaps_2005_mercure_dentaire.pdf)
72
NILU Polska (2009) Cost-benefit analysis of impact on human health and environment of mercury emission
reduction in Poland – Stage 1 (http://www.gios.gov.pl/zalaczniki/artykuly/etap1_20101022.pdf). It should be noted that
the Polish Bureau of Chemical Substances expressed some concerns about possibly overestimated dental amalgam
use reported in the NILU Polska study; however, as no official dental treatment statistics have been available from
2006 onwards in PL, there is no other relevant source of up-to-date information. The relatively low quantities of
officially reported dental amalgam waste produced in PL do not necessarily imply that dental amalgam use is low; in
fact this may be due to the small proportion of dental clinics using amalgam separators and collecting amalgam waste
as hazardous waste.
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 51
Part A - Problem definition and objectives
Alternative materials
Currently the most commonly used alternatives to dental amalgam are composites, glass
ionomer cement, compomers, giomers, sealants, and dental porcelain. Composite resin fillings,
the most common alternative, are made of an acrylic resin reinforced with powdered glass and
they are tooth coloured. Like composite resins, glass ionomer cements are made of an acrylic
resin and are tooth-coloured.
Most Member States do not collect data on the amounts of Hg-free materials used in dental
practices; however, some information could be obtained in terms of number of restorations per
filling material in several Member States and this was extrapolated for other Member States (see
Figure 5 below). The approach and detailed results concerning the estimation of the number of
restorations per material type are presented in Annex E.
Figure 5: Number of restorations per filling material per Member State (millions per year)
FR
**DE
*PL
**IT
UK
*RO
*ES
*GR
CZ
NL
HU
**SE
SK
**AT
*PT
BE
DK
**IE
*LT
FI
BG
SI
LV
EE
*MT
CY
*LU
0
10
20
30
Total dental amalgam restorations
40
50
60
70
80
Total Hg-free materials restorations
*Estimated (see Annex E)
**Countries that provided a detailed breakdown of Hg free restorations by specific type of material
The annual numbers of restorations per Member State, per 1,000 inhabitants, are shown in
Figure 6. According to this estimate, France and Poland have the highest number of restorations
(more than 1 per inhabitant, per year).
52 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Part A - Problem definition and objectives
Figure 6: Number of restorations per filling material per Member State (per 1000 inhabitants
per year)
FR
*PL
SI
*RO
*GR
SK
*LT
*MT
CZ
**IT
**DE
**IE
DK
FI
**SE
**AT
NL
BG
*LU
LV
*PT
BE
CY
*ES
EE
UK
HU
0
200
400
Total dental amalgam restorations
600
800
1 000
1 200
Total Hg-free materials restorations
*Estimated (see Annex E)
**Countries that provided a detailed breakdown of Hg-free restorations by type of material
Based on this data, it can be estimated that, in the EU27, approximately 370 million dental
restorations are carried out annually, of which 125 million with dental amalgam and 245
million with Hg-free materials73. Overall, this indicates that Hg-free materials are used more
often than dental amalgam (in approximately 66% of restorations). Average proportions of
dental filling materials used in the EU are illustrated in Figure 7. Concerning Hg-free materials, it
is roughly estimated that composites, glass ionomers, ceramics, and compomers are used
respectively in 48%, 8%, 5% and 1% of dental restorations at present. These estimates are based
on detailed information available in 5 Member States (DE, IT, SE, AT, and IE).
73
The estimation is based on the average estimated dental amalgam demand (75 t Hg/year in 2010). The values
calculated are based on a value of 600 mg of Hg per restoration and on the breakdown of dental restorations by type of
material which was provided by certain Member States (see Annex E for details).
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 53
Part A - Problem definition and objectives
Figure 7: Share of dental filling materials used in EU (in number of restorations)
5%
4%
Total dental amalgam restorations
1%
8%
34%
Total composite materials
restorations
Total glassionomers restorations
Total compomers restorations
Total ceramics restorations
Total other materials restorations
48%
Besides alternative restoration materials used in conventional restoration techniques, another
alternative to amalgam-based restorations is the Atraumatic Restorative Treatment (ART)74,75. It
is a low cost and relatively simple technique (compared with conventional restoration
techniques) which uses hand instruments and high-viscosity glass ionomers. In spite of its lower
cost, the present use of ART in EU countries remains limited76 and many dental practitioners are
not yet aware of it77. Further details on ART are provided in Box 1 below.
Box 1: The Atraumatic Restorative Treatment (ART)
ART involves removing soft, demineralised tooth tissue using only hand instruments followed by
74
restoration with an adhesive dental restorative material (glass ionomer) . The advantages of this
treatment, compared with conventional restorative techniques, include: provision of restorative dental
treatment outside the dental surgery setting, a biologically friendly approach, minimal cavity
preparations, low costs, reduced risk for subsequent endodontics and tooth extraction, lower dental
anxiety in children and adults (more patient-friendly technique) and better preservation of healthy tooth
78
structure (minimally invasive technique) . Additionally, since ART is not painful, both the time and cost of
administering anaesthetics are eliminated.
74
WHO, Atraumatic Restorative Treatment – A new approach for controlling dental caries (http://toxicteeth.org/CAPPART.pdf)
75
Jo E. Frencken (2009) Evolution of the ART approach: highlights and achievements, J Appl Oral Sci. 17 (sp issue): 7883 (http://www.globaloralhealth-nijmegen.nl/ProceedingsTandheelkundeBiWe.pdf)
76
See e.g. Honkala S, Honkala E. (2002) Atraumatic dental treatment among Finnish elderly persons. J Oral
Rehabil;29(5):435-440
77
A UK-based survey showed that, despite 42% of respondents stating that they were aware of the treatment, ‘true’
ART was adopted by fewer than 10% of respondents for the treatment of caries in primary molars: F. J. T Burke, S.
McHugh, L. Shaw, M-T. Hosey, L. Macpherson, S. Delargy and B. Dopheide (2005) UK dentists' attitudes and behaviour
towards Atraumatic Restorative Treatment for primary teeth, British Dental Journal 199, 365 - 369
(http://www.nature.com/bdj/journal/v199/n6/pdf/4812696a.pdf).
78
Dorri M, Sheiham A, Marinho VCC (2009) ART versus conventional restorative treatment for the management of
dental caries. (Protocol).
54 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Part A - Problem definition and objectives
The cost of ART is much lower than that of dental amalgam restorations (According to the Pan American
79
Health Organization, ART restorations only cost half as much as amalgam restorations .) ART only uses
inexpensive materials and hand instruments that do not require electricity. This type of treatment can
make the control of dental caries available to all people irrespective of their economic and living
79,80
conditions .
The Council of European Dentists (CED) considers that ART is appropriate to use in some circumstances in
children, but is not a permanent restorative technique in most adult teeth; its use in adults is considered as
81
a temporary dressing that would require replacement in the short term . However, several recent
scientific publications comparing ART glass-ionomer restorations with amalgam ones showed no
82,83
difference in survival rates of fillings between the two treatment approaches
; this was also showed by
84
a systematic review published in 2009, although based on a limited number of studies .
The main limitations of ART are that, in most cases, it cannot treat very small tooth cavities (limitation of
the hand instruments) and that the glass-ionomer is not strong enough to be used reliably in very large
85
tooth cavities at the moment . Visible humidity will hinder the possibility to appropriately place a
composite or a glass ionomer filling, although limited humidity may be less devastating for glass ionomer
cements, which are often used when dryness is difficult to achieve such as in children teeth and when
restoring the tooth neck of elder people adjacent to the flesh; it is also important to note that the drying
should not be exaggerated, since a certain level of humidity is needed to achieve appropriate bonding
between the tooth structure and the glass ionomer filling (same thing for a composite filling), due to the
85
wet bonding technology generally employed .
Because of its low cost and its simplicity as a minimal intervention technique, ART was initially developed
for use in the developing countries where population has a limited access to dental treatment. However,
in the past year, it has been included as part of the ‘minimum intervention’ philosophy in developed
75
86
countries . This philosophy is also supported by the World Dental Federation (FDI) , which states that
‘operative intervention should focus on the preservation of natural tooth structure and be limited to the
removal of friable enamel and infected dentine’. ART and other Minimally Invasive Techniques tend to
79
Pan American Health Organization (2006) Oral Health of Low Income Children: Procedures for Atraumatic
Restorative Treatment (PRAT) (http://new.paho.org/hq/dmdocuments/2009/OH_top_PT_low06.pdf)
80
Phantumvanit P et al. (1996) Atraumatic restorative treatment: a three-year community field trial in Thailand—
survival of one-surface restorations in the permanent dentition. J Public Health Dent 56:141–5
81
Information provided as part of the stakeholder consultation for this study.
82
Zanata RL et al. (2010) Ten-year survival of ART restorations in permanent posterior teeth, Clinical Oral
Investigations, Volume 15, Number 2, 265-271
83
Frencken JE et al. (2006) Survival of ART and amalgam restorations in permanent teeth after 6.3 years. J Dent Res
85:622-626
84
Mickenautsch S et al. (2009) Atraumatic restorative treatment versus amalgam restoration longevity: a systematic
review, Clinical Oral Investigations, Volume 14, Number 3, 233-240
85
Information sources: correspondence with Prof. J. Frencken (ART specialist), and verbal information from Prof. Van
Dijken at Umeå University (SE) (dental materials specialist)
86
FDI (2002) Minimal Intervention in the Management of Dental Caries, FDI Policy Statement
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 55
Part A - Problem definition and objectives
prolong the life of the tooth before extraction, and possibly before expensive implants are required.
According to a 2007 article from the Journal of the American Dental Association, ‘ART is recommended for
use worldwide, not only in developing countries where resources are not readily available, but also in more
87
industrialised countries’ .
The CED considers that ART only has limited use in the EU, mainly for domiciliary care. However, recent
studies suggest that ART also has some potential in modern clinics and tends to be increasingly used in
certain developed countries. For example, a survey published in the Journal of the American Dental
Association revealed that, in the USA, 44% of respondents used ART ‘very often/often’ and another 23%
used it ‘sometimes’; furthermore, 40% of respondents reported that continuing education about ART
88
would be ‘very desirable or desirable’ . According to a specialist of ART, this technique is currently used in
89
private dental practices in the USA, the UK and the Netherlands. In Sweden, ART is used in public clinics
and is considered as the treatment of the choice for primary teeth; it is also used for elder people when
90
e.g. the tooth neck adjacent to flesh needs to be filled . A UK-based survey from 2005 showed, however,
77
that many dental practitioners were not aware of ART .
2.6.1.2
Future trends
In 10 Member States that provided estimates, there is a consensus on the expected decrease in
dental amalgam use in future years, except in the UK for which two different opinions were
received: the British Dental Association (BDA) expects a stabilisation whereas the Department of
Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra) expects a decrease. Further details on the
responses provided by the Member States are presented in Annex E. The overall downward trend
was also suggested by the 2010 CED survey, in which national dental associations from 23
European countries reported that the use of dental amalgam was decreasing, while it was
restricted or banned in a further 4 countries91. The only manufacturer of dental fillings which
replied to the present study’s questionnaire (producing both amalgam and Hg-free materials)
reported that the use of dental amalgam is decreasing rapidly in the EU.
In future years, the use of dental amalgam may continue to decline in the EU, mainly as a result
of growing aesthetic concerns, although it is difficult to predict the speed of this decline. Some
estimates of dental amalgam use for previous years (i.e. before 2010) are available, however they
are not based on the same information sources as the present study; hence it does not seem
relevant to estimate an annual decrease rate based on these values.
This study assumes that, in the absence of further EU action, a decrease in dental amalgam
demand in future years will be observed in all Member States that still use it, but it will occur at
87
Davidovich E et al. (2007) Surface antibacterial properties of glass ionomer cements used in ART, J Am Dent Assoc.,
Vol. 138, 10: 1347-1352
88
Seale NS, Casamassimo PS (2003) Access to dental care for children in the United States: a survey of general
practitioners. J Am Dent Assoc.;134:1630-40
89
Jo E. Frencken (2009) Evolution of the ART approach: Highlights and Achievements, Journal of Applied Oral Science,
V17, Special Issue 2009, http://www.globaloralhealth-nijmegen.nl/Proceedings-Symposium-ART-2009.pdf
90
Gabre, P._Behandling av karies_Public Dental Health Service, County of Uppsala, Landstinget Uppsala
Län,Uppsala_2010 ; Sarmadi, R._ART_Public Dental Health Service, County of Uppsala, Landstinget Uppsala
Län,Uppsala_2010
91
The survey was anonymous, hence it is not possible to identify which Member States responded what.
56 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Part A - Problem definition and objectives
different speeds and the demand will stabilise at different levels depending on the Member
States. Following main factors will influence these trends:
As long as environmental externalities are not included in the price of
amalgam fillings, specific groups of the society might not be able or willing to
bear the presently higher price for most Hg-free restorations; many of the
current health insurance schemes reimburse a similar fixed amount whatever
the material chosen and there is no evidence that they will increase the
reimbursement of Hg-free restorations in the future
Because of a lack of skills in the handling of Hg-free filling materials (due to
insufficient training and/or experience) and a reluctance to change traditional
practices, dental amalgam may remain more attractive for the majority of
dentists in some Member States
Environmental awareness may not be sufficient to induce a change in dental
practices as long as there are no policy incentives or legal measures
discouraging or banning mercury use.
The following assumptions have been made with regard to future trends, for three groups of
Member States with some common characteristics (see further details in Annex E):
Table 2: Assumptions on future dental amalgam demand in the baseline scenario
Group
Share of
dental
amalgam in
2010 (in %
restorations)
Expected share
of dental
amalgam in
2025 (in %
restorations)
Dental
Hg use
in 2010
(t)
Projected
dental Hg
use in
2025 (t)
Group 1
DK, EE, SE,
IT, FI
0-5%
0%
0.3-0.4
0
Group 2
BG, BE, CY,
DE, HU, IE,
LU, NL, PT,
ES, LV
6-35%
5 to 15%
9 – 12
3– 8
Group 3
AT, CZ, FR,
GR, LT, MT,
PL, RO, SK,
SI, UK
>35%
20-30%
EU-27
46 - 78
23-35
55 - 95
27-43
Comments
This group includes countries where
amalgam use is very limited and is
expected to cease in the mid-term due
to policy measures in place (e.g. SE) or
other factors.
In these countries, demand for dental
amalgam is expected to continue to
decrease until it reaches a relatively low
share of restorations.
This group includes countries where
dental amalgam is still widely used, as
well as less wealthy countries where a
large proportion of the population may
not be able to bear the additional cost of
Hg-free restorations. In addition, due to
the currently high use of dental
amalgam in these countries, there
would also be a high proportion of
dentists unwilling to change their
current practices.
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 57
Part A - Problem definition and objectives
Based on these trends, it can be expected that, in 2025, the use of dental mercury would have
decreased by 31 to 47 t Hg in EU27 compared to the 2010 levels and would stabilise at
approximately 27 to 43 t Hg/year. A reduction of this size entails that the use of dental amalgam
would decrease by approximately 5% annually over a 15-year long period of time.
An average annual reduction of dental amalgam use by 5% seems realistic given information
from previous studies. For example, according to a study carried out for the European
Commission in 200292, in Finland the use of dental amalgam was reduced by 5.5% annually
between 1990 and 2002, in the Netherlands by 5.4% between 1989 and 1990 and in the UK by
5.6% annually between 1992 and 1997. The case of Sweden, where the reduction in dental
amalgam demand has been achieved in several steps, can also be mentioned as an example (see
Box 2 below).
Box 2: Evolution of dental amalgam demand in Sweden
In Sweden, the use of dental amalgam started to grow markedly when the Public Dental Health Service in
1938 started to offer free dental care with amalgam to pregnant women and later on to schoolchildren.
The amalgam consumption grew rapidly, peaking at more than 17.5 t Hg in 1972. A large part of this
mercury was used as an amalgam die, a model of a tooth or several teeth made of amalgam to serve as a
basis for further dental treatment of the patient. Based on the precautionary principle with regard to
possible health effects to the foetus, in 1970 it was recommended that dental amalgam should no longer
be used in pregnant women. After 1972, mercury use in Swedish dentistry decreased also for several other
reasons such as environmental considerations and preventive dental care resulting in improved dental
health with less need for restorative measures. The decline was 10% per year on average in 1973-79 and
only 5% per year in 1980-89. A revitalized debate on the environmental and health aspects of mercury led
to a recommendation by the Swedish Parliament to phase out the use of mercury in dentistry, after which
the use of dental amalgam declined by 19% per year on average in the 1990’s. Still, the decline based on
voluntary measures did not fulfil the objective to phase out all uses of dental amalgam until 1997.
st
Therefore, a decision was taken in the beginning of the 21 century to ban all uses of dental amalgam from
June 2009, after which the rate of decline increased at 45% per year from 2000. Until 2012, there was an
exception making it possible to use dental amalgam in hospital dentistry in exceptional cases. This
possibility was used for less than 10 patients the first year after the general ban had entered into force in
93
2009. This evolution is illustrated in the graph below .
92
RPA (2002), Risks to health and the environment related to the use of mercury products, Report for the European
Commission - DG Enterprise (http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/sectors/chemicals/files/studies/rpa-mercury_en.pdf)
93
Data sources:
Ferm, R., Larsson J. E. 1973. Kvicksilver : användning, kontroll och miljöeffekter. (Mercury: usage, control, and
environmental effects.) SNV PM 421. Solna : Statens naturvårdsverk. (85 pp.) (In Swedish).
Halldin, A., Pettersson, O. 1978. Turnover of mercury in Sweden. Naturvårdsverket rapport SNV PM 928, Solna. 120
pp. (In Swedish; English summary.) ISSN 0346-7309
Hylander, L. D. & Meili, M. 2005. The rise and fall of mercury: converting a resource to refuse after 500 years of mining
and pollution. Crit. Rev. Environ. Sci. Technol. 35:1-36
KemI 2004. Report 4/04. Mercury – investigation of a general ban. KemI, October 2004. Report by the Swedish
Chemicals Inspectorate in response to a commission from the Swedish Government.
http://www.kemi.se/upload/Trycksaker/Pdf/Rapporter/Rapport4_04.pdf
Levander, T. 1991. Kvicksilver i Sverige. Problem och åtgärder. National Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.
(Statens Naturvårdsverk).(36p.)
58 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Part A - Problem definition and objectives
Mercury (tonnes)
20
15
10
5
2010
2005
2000
1995
1990
1985
1980
1975
1970
1965
1960
1955
1950
1945
1940
1935
1930
1925
1920
1915
1910
1905
1900
0
Year
Mercury used annually in dentistry in Sweden
The baseline scenario does not take into account any possible technological breakthroughs. In
recent years, the benefits in new restoration treatment methods or materials (e.g. the ART
technique) have been discussed at the global level, but currently there is no evidence that these
may become widely used in the mid-term in the EU, in the absence of further policy measures. In
this baseline scenario, it is also assumed that the total number of dental restorations will remain
stable in the mid-term. This assumption takes into account several aspects that are likely to have
diverging effects in future years:
In most Member States, oral health prevention policies may gradually
decrease the needs for dental restorations (both amalgam and Hg-free);
however, at present, there is not sufficient information to establish relevant
correlations between the quality of national dental health care systems and
future dental restoration needs
In some of the less wealthy Member States, there are large unmet needs for
dental restorations and access to dental health care is gradually increasing,
possibly leading to an increasing number of dental restorations
Simultaneously, the overall improvement of dental health care in all Member
States will increase the longevity of natural teeth in elderly people and
consequently a larger proportion of the population may need dental
treatment.
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 59
Part A - Problem definition and objectives
2.6.2
Environmental aspects
Current situation
Environmental impacts of dental amalgam use in the current situation have been briefly
described in Section 2.3.2 above, on the basis of evidence presented in Annex C of this report
(Assessment of environmental emissions from dental amalgam use).
Future trends
In the absence of further EU policy action, environmental impacts due to the historical use of
dental amalgam will continue to occur for several decades since they are due to the removal of
old fillings, the loss of teeth, the progressive deterioration of existing fillings and the end of life of
amalgams when people decease. The total quantity of mercury currently stored in people’s
mouths is estimated to be about 1,000 t Hg for the EU27 (see Annex C for further details).
Mercury releases from dental practices may progressively decrease along with the modernisation
of dental practices, as new dental practices are generally equipped with amalgam separators.
Among the consulted stakeholders , two Member States (UK and HU) stated that modern dental
clinics tend to include dental amalgam separators. It is, however, highly unlikely that 100% of
dental practices become compliant with the relevant requirements of EU waste legislation in the
short term without any further enforcement actions from public authorities. With regard to the
end of life of amalgams, future mercury releases from burial are likely to remain stable and will
occur for several decades. Concerning mercury emissions from cremation, a stabilisation seems
to have occurred since 2005, but future trends are difficult to predict due to several factors likely
to produce contradictory effects: mercury emission reduction efforts achieved through a
progressive increase in the proportion of crematoria equipped with mercury abatement devices
are likely to be offset by the increasing cremation rate and the increasing proportion of deceased
people that have amalgam fillings in their mouths (see also Section 2.3.2.1). In this baseline
scenario, it is therefore assumed that EU mercury emissions from cremation will remain at a
similar level as today over the next 15 years.
Environmental impacts due to current and future use of dental amalgam depend upon future
trends in dental amalgam use in the EU (see Section 2.6.1.2) as well as possible improvements in
mercury emission control strategies. If no further EU policy action is taken, the current use of
dental amalgam will continue to generate environmental impacts that will occur over the whole
lifetime of the amalgam fillings; a large part of the associated environmental emissions would
occur during a period of 10 to 15 years after the placement of amalgam (this is the average
lifetime of an amalgam filling)94 but the actual environmental impacts (adverse effects to
ecosystems) and possible indirect human health effects will occur for several decades. With
regard to possible improvements in mercury emission control strategies, the baseline scenario’s
assumptions are similar to those described in the case of historical use of dental amalgam.
94
Some amalgam restorations will last shorter (many last less than 2 years) while others have been reported to last up
to 40 to 50 years (WHO (2010) Future use of materials for dental restoration)
60 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Part A - Problem definition and objectives
2.6.3
Economic aspects
In this section, the main economic aspects related to the use of dental amalgam are split
according to the key actors concerned within the EU: manufacturers and suppliers of dental
fillings, dentists, dental patients, waste management companies, EU citizens, crematoria and
public authorities.
2.6.3.1
Manufacturers and suppliers of dental fillings
Current situation
In this study, 62 main companies producing dental filling materials in the EU27 have been
identified, of which 38 produce exclusively Hg-free materials and 20 produce both amalgam and
Hg-free fillings. Of the 20 companies producing both types of fillings, 10 are based in Germany.
Only 3 companies produce solely mercury for dental restoration applicationss (2 of which
produce solely bulk mercury)95. One company produces solely dental amalgam alloys
(silver/copper/tin) and precious metals alloys for crown and bridge work96. A list of these
companies is provided in Annex E. The majority of these companies are large companies, often
EU subsidiaries of large multinational groups. Approximately 30 to 40% of these companies seem
to be small or medium sized enterprises.
Future trends
Given the expected continued decrease in dental amalgam demand in future years, it is very
likely that producers will substitute the production of dental amalgam with Hg-free materials or
that they will increase their share in the global market of dental amalgam.
Given the fact that a large majority of EU dental filling manufacturers already produce Hg-free
filling materials, the projected decrease in dental amalgam demand is not expected to have
significant negative effects on this industry. On the other hand, revenues of the dental industry
may increase given the higher sale prices of Hg-free filling materials. Besides, these companies
tend to have a wide range of products other than dental filling materials.
An exception to this trend are the companies which produce solely amalgam alloys (only one
identified in the present study) or solely mercury (only three identified), which face direct loss of
sales caused by the reduction of dental amalgam use. Since these companies do not manufacture
products which are directly or indirectly associated with Hg-free materials, this loss of revenues
will not be compensated; however dental amalgam applications may only be of marginal
importance for their businesses.
95
The Czech company Bome S.R.O. and the Dutch company M&R Claushuis B.V supply bulk mercury directly to dental
practices or to other manufacturers that produce dental amalgam capsules. The Italian company World Work Srl,
produces dental amalgam capsules and dental products other than filling materials.
96
The Cookson Precious Metals Ltd company (UK) manufactures dental amalgam alloys (silver/copper/tin) as well as
gold fillings and inlays. Amalgam alloy is sold to wholesale companies as well as to producers of dental amalgam
capsules.
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 61
Part A - Problem definition and objectives
Assuming that, on average, the average cost of the filling material for a dental restoration is 1
EUR for amalgam and 5 EUR for a composite or glass ionomer material97, the increase in
revenues for the EU dental fillings industry is estimated to be approximately EUR 2.3 billion for
the period 2010-2025. This estimate is based on the following assumptions: the share of the EU
manufacturers of dental amalgam in the EU market will remain stable in the mid-term; for the
period 2010-2025, the total dental amalgam demand substituted will be of approximately 350 t,
representing approximately 580 million restorations (at 0.6 g Hg per filling); and the amalgam
fillings will be substituted solely by Hg-free materials produced in the EU.
Unlike dental amalgam, Hg-free materials have been the subject of continuous technical
improvements in the past years and this trend is expected to continue. The production of Hg-free
materials is characterised by high-tech and more sophisticated processes. The projected demand
increase for Hg-free materials is also expected to boost investments in R&D and innovation in the
EU dental fillings industry, with the aim of improving material quality and decreasing production
costs. Competition between dental fillings manufacturers may be increased as the production of
Hg-free fillings is currently spread among more companies than the production of dental
amalgam. Similar effects are expected to appear progressively in non-EU companies that have
significant shares of the EU market.
2.6.3.2
Dentists
Costs incurred by dentists as a consequence of dental amalgam use mainly include costs for the
installation and maintenance of amalgam separators and costs for the collection and treatment
of amalgam waste as hazardous waste. These represent a part of the environmental costs of
mercury pollution caused by dental amalgam. These costs result from the need for dental
practices to comply with EU waste legislation, which considers dental amalgam waste as
hazardous waste. It can be assumed that such costs are to some extent included in the dentists’
fees and therefore partially passed on to patients; however, to simplify, we consider here that
they mainly affect dentists.
With regard to the costs related to dental restorations, it is assumed that they are fully passed on
to dental patients (see Section 2.6.3.3).
Current situation
In the EU27, there are approximately 62 dentists for every 100,000 inhabitants. In 2009, the total
number of dentists in the EU27 was approximately 310,50098. Cyprus has the highest number of
practising dentists per inhabitant (93 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2008) and Poland the lowest (32
dentists per 100,000 inhabitants in 2009). Germany has the highest total number of practising
dentists (approximately 62,000). Further data is provided in Annex E.
97
Based on information provided by the German Dental Association (questionnaire reply). For composite, the material
cost includes the composite material as well as rubber dam, etchant and bond materials.
98
This number mostly includes practicing dentists. For countries where no information is available, the number of
professionally active or licensed to practice dentists is used instead.
62 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Part A - Problem definition and objectives
No official statistics on the number or size of dental clinics in the EU could be found, but a
previous study (2008) estimated the number of dental clinics or dental offices to range between
130,000 and 210,00031.
Costs of installing and maintaining amalgam separators
The cost of amalgam separators for dentists were estimated by COWI/Concorde to be in the
range of EUR 400-500 per year, including installation, servicing, in-situ evaluation of filter
efficiency and accreditation31.
Annual costs of dental amalgam separators through their life cycle have also been estimated by
the US Environment Protection Agency (USEPA), including purchase or lease, installation,
maintenance, replacement, transportation and waste recycling costs99. Table 3 shows the
estimated costs, per size of dental office and per life-cycle stage. The distribution of costs
indicates that costs of amalgam separators are very much dependent on the size of dental offices
as well as the installed model. In addition, the amount of wastewater discharged determines the
needs for maintenance and replacements (e.g. of traps and filters).
Table 3: Estimated costs for amalgam separators by size of dental office in the USA (EUR)
Phase
Small (1-4 chairs)
Medium (5-12 chairs)
Large (+12 chairs)
Purchase
159-955
530-1,749
1,986-6,969
Installation
79-159
100-207
159- 794
Maintenance
0-159
0-159
0-159
Replacement of canisters
34-597
60-597
398-1,673
Estimated annual cost
147-748
204-767
1,387-3,227
Conversion rate: 1 EUR = 1.43 US$
Based on estimates reported by COWI/Concorde, there are on average 2.1 practicing dentists per
dental clinic. It is therefore more appropriate to consider the costs of small-sized dental clinics
that are provided by the US EPA (approx. EUR 150 to 750/year). This estimate is consistent with
the above-mentioned COWI/Concorde value, however with a much wider range. The
COWI/Concorde estimates are based on the Danish market and therefore the US EPA costs
might be more appropriate at the EU level where labour costs vary considerably among Member
States. In addition, the US EPA considers all different types of separators (filtration,
sedimentation, ion exchange, centrifugation and mix of these technologies) as well as different
brands.
Costs of collection and treatment of hazardous waste
The US EPA report provides estimates on the cost arising from recycling services related to
amalgam separators. These services include the collection of amalgam waste form dental offices
and the provision of related supplies, such as packaging, labels, etc. The costs of these services as
well as maintenance costs (including recycling) are estimated to range between $95 and $750
99
USEPA (2008), Health Services Industry Detailed Study – Dental Amalgam
(http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/lawsguidance/cwa/304m/upload/2008_09_08_guide_304m_2008_hsi-dental200809.pdf)
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 63
Part A - Problem definition and objectives
(EUR 66 to 523) per year. A previous study100 in the US gives a lower estimate at $450
(EUR 314/year).
At the EU level, according to the stakeholders consulted, there is a significant variation of the
costs incurred by dentists for the management of amalgam sludge: reported costs range from
EUR 100 to 600 per year, with an average cost of approximately EUR 310 per year and per dentist.
Future trends
As explained in Section 2.3.2.1, it is highly unlikely that 100% of dental practices become
compliant with the EU waste legislation in the short term without any further enforcement
actions from public authorities. Only a slight increase in the number of dental clinics equipped
with amalgam separators may be expected in the mid-term, due to the modernisation of
equipment. In this baseline scenario, the costs incurred by dentists for managing dental amalgam
waste are therefore not expected to change significantly in the mid-term. It must be noted that,
even if the use of dental amalgam tends to decrease, this will not change the volume of sludge
captured in amalgam separators and there is no efficient way to separate dental amalgam
particles from Hg-free filling particles captured by the separator.
For some dentists that currently only perform dental amalgam restorations, the progressive
increase in the demand for Hg-free restorations may oblige them to invest in additional
equipment (except in the case of the ART technique that only requires hand instruments).
Additional equipment required mainly consists of a polymer-curing lamp which costs EUR 540 to
1,62031. It is assumed that a vast majority of dental clinics are now equipped with such
equipment, however the exact proportion is unknown.
2.6.3.3
Dental patients
The main economic aspect for dental patients is the cost of dental restorations. In the baseline
scenario, the expected gradual change in dental filling materials will affect the costs incurred by
dentists for performing the restorations and it is assumed that any changes in such costs will be
fully passed on to dental patients. Dental restorations costs actually borne by the patients
depend on four main factors:
The cost of the filling material, which only represents a very small proportion
of the total treatment cost101.
The labour cost, which is influenced by the time needed to perform a specific
type of restoration and the hourly wage of the dentist. The time needed to
perform a restoration may depend on the filling material used and on the
specific skills of the dentist with regard to his/her ability to employ the
different types of restoration techniques.
100
Pepper Hamilton LLP on behalf of ADA (2007) The American Dental Association’s (ADA) Comments on EPA’s Study
of a Pretreatment Requirement for Dental Amalgam. OW-2006-0771-0837.
101
For example, in Germany, the cost of the material is approximately 1 EUR per amalgam restoration and 5 EUR per
composite restoration (Source: response to the study questionnaire)
64 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Part A - Problem definition and objectives
The possible amount reimbursed to the patient by the national health
insurance scheme, in countries where such schemes exist and cover dental
restorations (further details provided in Table 26 of Annex E). It can be argued
that even when costs are reimbursed, patients still bear these costs indirectly
through their contributions to the national health schemes, however there are
some redistribution effects.
The longevity of the filling (indirect cost factor).
Current situation
Responses to the study questionnaire showed large differences between Member States with
regard to the cost of dental restorations for both dental amalgam and Hg-free materials
(composite resins and glass ionomers). The differences in costs are mainly due to the differences
in labour costs across the Member States and to the differences in the possible amounts
reimbursed to patients by national health insurance schemes. The minimum, average, and
maximum costs for dental amalgam and Hg-free restorations are presented in Figure 8 and
Figure 9 below, covering Member States that provided information as part of the study
(information was provided by national health authorities and/or dental associations). Average
costs for EU12, EU15 and EU27 are also presented in Table 4 below. Detailed information is
provided in Annex E (see Table 24). These costs correspond to the costs actually borne by the
patients going to dental practitioners having an agreement with the public sector, i.e. taking into
account the amounts possibly reimbursed by national health insurance schemes. These costs
correspond to average restoration costs, considering the different types of restorations which
may be performed (front teeth/rear teeth; 1, 2 or 3 surfaces; etc.). Hg-free restoration costs
correspond to the use of composites or glass ionomers, i.e. the most common Hg-free materials
used in the EU. The use of more expensive materials (e.g. ceramics or gold) has not been taken
into account, as such materials are not directly comparable with dental amalgam.
Table 4: Average dental restoration costs borne by patients102
Dental amalgam restoration cost
(EUR)
Hg-free restoration cost
(EUR)
EU27
32
44
EU15
50
66
EU12
13
19
102
Costs of treatment by a dentist having an agreement with the public sector, taking into account the amount
possibly reimbursed by the national health insurance scheme (in some MS, up to 100% of treatment costs are
reimbursed, even if composite materials are used)
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 65
Part A - Problem definition and objectives
Figure 8: Costs borne by patients for a dental amalgam restoration102 (EUR)
200
180
160
140
120
100
80
60
Average
40
20
United Kingdom
Slovakia
Poland
Malta
Latvia
Italy
Ireland
Hungary
Germany
France
Finland
Estonia
Denmark
Czech Republic
Cyprus
Bulgaria
Belgium
Austria
0
Figure 9: Costs borne by patients for a Hg-free restoration102 (EUR)
200
180
160
140
120
100
80
Average
60
40
20
United Kingdom
Sweden
Slovakia
Poland
Malta
Latvia
Italy
Ireland
Hungary
Germany
France
Finland
Estonia
Denmark
Czech Republic
Cyprus
Belgium
Bulgaria
Austria
0
66 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Part A - Problem definition and objectives
For 11 Member States103, information on the actual costs of dental restorations could also be
obtained (i.e. costs not taking into account possible amounts reimbursed to patients by national
health insurance schemes). They are detailed in Annex E (Table 25). The average costs are of EUR
36 for an amalgam restoration and EUR 49 for a Hg-free restoration using composite or glass
ionomer.
Trends in price differences between amalgam and composite restorations are not well
documented in the EU. In the USA, it is reported that the price of amalgam restorations has been
rising faster than the price of composite restorations over the last few years, and there has been
a decline in the price of Hg-free alternatives104.
The least expensive Hg-free alternative appears to be ART (using glass ionomers): a restoration
using ART costs about half the price of an amalgam restoration. At present, ART is not much
used in the EU; however, in Sweden, glass ionomers using hand tools or ordinary instruments
have increasingly become the first choice for restoring primary teeth105,106.
Time needed for restorations
The costs of dental restorations are greatly influenced by the time needed for the placement of
the filling. Overall estimates on the time required for dental restorations vary considerably
between the dentists. Some dentists claim that it takes longer to place a composite than an
amalgam, e.g. the CED has estimated that it takes approximately 2.5 times longer to perform
composite restorations, in comparison with amalgam restorations. However, dentists who
regularly use composites say they can place a composite as fast as an amalgam. The WHO
pointed out that staff training is a major component for success in using Hg-free alternatives107.
In Sweden, where dental amalgam has been banned, it has been shown that the time needed to
carry out a Hg-free restoration has reduced significantly as dentists have gained more experience
in the handling of Hg-free materials, so that there is currently no (or minor) time difference to
perform Hg-free restorations compared to amalgam108 (further details are provided in Annex E).
A 2011 study109 revealed that ‘over the past two decades, studies have been conducted in North
and South America, Europe and Asia examining the teaching of resin-based materials for restoring
posterior teeth. The findings of each study were similar, and concluded that the emphasis on
103
CZ, DE, DK, EE, FR, HU, IT, MT, PL, SK, SE
104
The following study revealed that the price of amalgam has been rising faster than resins within the period 19751995: L. Jackson Brown & Vickie Lazar (1998) Dental Procedure Fees 1975 through 1995: How Much Have They
Changed?, Journal of the American Dental Association (Sept. 1998), http://jada.ada.org/content/129/9/1291.short
105
Sarmadi, Roxana (2010) ART. Public Dental Health Service, County of Uppsala
106
Gabre, Pia (2010) Behandling av karies. Public Dental Health Service, County of Uppsala
107
WHO (2010) Future Use of Materials for Dental Restoration
(www.who.int/oral_health/publications/dental_material_2011.pdf)
108
Source: Swedish Environment Ministry (consultation to the present study)
109
Zunliang Liew et.al. (2011), Survey on the teaching and use in dental schools of resin-based materials for restoring
posterior teeth, International Dental Journal (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1875-595X.2011.00003.x/pdf)
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 67
Part A - Problem definition and objectives
teaching posterior resin composite placement had increased, but most dental graduates had
minimal clinical experience with their placement’.
Furthermore, to properly place an amalgam two visits to the dentist are required (one to place
the filling and a second one to polish), making it the less efficient procedure. If left unpolished,
amalgam restorations will have a lower lifetime. Also, the time required for a composite to
replace a previous amalgam restoration is higher than for replacing a composite filling: a cavity
originally prepared to receive an amalgam filling is typically larger and distinguished by various
angles that would never be prepared for a composite, rendering the placement of a composite
more difficult and time-consuming than it would otherwise have been.
Longevity of restorations
A different longevity of the filling can indirectly affect the cost difference between amalgam and
Hg-free restorations over the long term, as a shorter average lifetime of a dental filling means
more frequent dental restorations. The longevity of the fillings depends on a multitude of factors,
among which the type of filling material and the quality of the placement when composites are
concerned (the quality of the placement is itself very much influenced by the experience of the
dentist in handling composite fillings). Amalgam fillings used to have a longer average lifetime
than composite fillings: 10-15 years vs. 5-8 years for composites according to the WHO107; 5 years
on average for composite fillings according to the Swedish National Guidelines for adult dental
care 2011 (which are partly based on a 2004 study110). The CED and FDI claim that amalgam
restorations are currently superior to composite restorations in their clinical performance111.
Recent studies, however, show that the longevity of both types of fillings tends to become
similar thanks to recent technological improvements in composite materials and greater
experience of dentists in handling such materials112,113. According to the WHO, ‘recent data
suggest that RBCs (resin-based composites) perform equally well as amalgam’ and ‘composite resins
have been reported to last 12-15 years’114. According to a 2010 study over the course of 12 years,
‘large composite restorations showed a higher survival in the combined population and in the lowrisk group’ and amalgam survived better only in specific circumstances (for ‘three-surface
restorations in high-risk patients, amalgam showed better survival’115. In addition, the longevity of
110
Swedish National guidelines for adult dental care 2011 (scientific material available in Swedish at
http://www.socialstyrelsen.se/publikationer2011/2011-5-1/Documents/vetenskapligt-underlag-vuxentandvard.pdf).
They include an assessment of the longevity of composite filling therapy, based on e.g. Manhart et al (2004) and
several other studies and expert group assessment.
111
During the stakeholder consultation, they referred, in particular, to the findings of the 2010 WHO report (Future Use
of Materials for Dental Restoration) and to a publication by Kovaric (Kovaric (2009) Restoration of posterior teeth in
clinical practice : evidence base for choosing amalgam vs. Composite. Dent Clin N Am 53, 71-76)
112
Christopher D. Lynch et al. (2011), Minimally invasive management of dental caries: Contemporary teaching of
posterior resin-based composite placement in U.S. and Canadian dental schools, J Am Denta Assoc; 142; 612-620
(http://jada.ada.org/content/142/6/612.abstract)
113
Zunliang Liew et.al. (2011), Survey on the teaching and use in dental schools of resin-based materials for restoring
posterior teeth, International Dental Journal, vol. 61, no.1, pp. 12-18
114
WHO (2010) Future Use of Materials for Dental Restoration, p.18
115
N.J.M. Opdam, E.M. Bronkhorst, B.A.C. Loomans, and M.-C.D.N.J.M. Huysmana (2010) 12-Year Survival of
Composite vs. Amalgam Restorations, Journal of Dental Research, Vol. 89, 10: pp. 1063-1067
(http://jdr.sagepub.com/content/89/10/1063.abstract)
68 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Part A - Problem definition and objectives
ART restorations (which rely on glass ionomers) is now reported to be equal to or greater than
that of equivalent amalgam restorations116,117,118. The operator performance is considered as a
crucial factor in relation to the level of void avoidance, therefore training is very important for the
success of ART.
Another parameter is the annual failure rate. According to the WHO, dental amalgam and
composites have a similar failure rate (around 2.2%), whereas other Hg-free materials have a
higher failure rate; glass ionomers have the highest failure rate at 7.6%107. According to a 2005
study published in the American Journal of Dentistry119, amalgam has a mean annual failure rate
of 7.6% in children’s primary teeth (compared to only 5.9% for composites, 3.3% for compomers,
and 4.2% for resin-modified glass ionomers). The study determined that ‘the failure of amalgam
restorations occurs more frequently in primary teeth, especially in small children, due to moisture
contamination of the cavities during condensation’. The age of the children at the time of
placement is therefore a major factor in restoration longevity. According to the Irish Dental
Association, with Hg-free fillings there is a higher risk of post-operation complications and there
are more follow-up visits required in comparison to the dental amalgam restorations. These
factors can also indirectly increase the cost of Hg-free restorations.
With regard to young children, longevity of the restoration is not a relevant concern since baby
teeth will fall out long before the restoration fails. According to an ART specialist, ART will be an
‘alternative to amalgam restoration especially in the primary teeth, whose life span is less than ten
years’120.
Given the results of recent studies comparing the longevity of different materials, in the present
study it is considered that the longevity of Hg-free fillings is no longer a factor with significant
effect on the overall cost difference between dental amalgam and composite or glass ionomer
restorations.
Other costs (environmental and health costs)
Finally, as pointed out in a UNEP report121, it is important to note that the incremental cost of
most Hg-free restoration techniques with regard to amalgam restorations would be lower if the
environmental costs of mercury pollution were adequately factored in. Costs due to
environmental pollution and indirect health damages from dental amalgam use are described in
the other sections of this baseline scenario; they affect dentists and their staff, EU citizens,
crematoria, public authorities and the society at large.
116
Mickenautsch S, Yengopal V, Banerjee A (2010). Atraumatic restorative treatment versus amalgam restoration
longevity: a systematic review. Clin Oral Investig 14: 233-240
117
Regia Luzia Zanataet al. (2010) Ten-year survival of ART restorations in permanent posterior teeth, Clin Oral
Investig, Volume 15, Number 2, 265-271 (http://www.springerlink.com/content/w208655418q560g0/)
118
Frencken JE (2010) The ART approach using glass ionomers in relation to global health care. Dent Mater 26: 1-6
119
Reinhard Hickel et al. (2005) Longevity of occlusally-stressed restorations in posterior primary teeth, American
Journal of Dentistry, Vol. 18, No. 3 (http://www.amjdent.com/Archive/2005/Hickel%20-%20June%202005.pdf)
120
Dr. Prathip Phantumvanit Interview, Dental Tribune (http://www.dentaltribune.com/articles/content/id/3978/scope/news/region/asia_pacific)
121
UNEP (2008) Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Mercury - Report presenting the costs and benefits for each of
the strategic objectives (www.chem.unep.ch/mercury/OEWG2/documents/e52%29/English/OEWG_2_5_add_1.pdf)
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 69
Part A - Problem definition and objectives
Future trends
Estimates of the additional costs expected to be borne by patients for the period 2010-2025 are
provided in Table 5 below.
Table 5: Additional costs borne by patients (EUR) in the baseline scenario, for the period
2010-2025
Cost
difference
(EUR)
Total number of
dental amalgam
restorations
substituted
with Hg-free
materials in
2010-2025 (‘000)
Additional
costs for
patients in
2010-2025 if no
change in cost
difference
(million EUR)
Additional costs
for patients in
2010-2025 with an
annual decrease in
the cost difference
by 1% (million
EUR)
85 - 160
60 - 102
6,265 - 10,651
376 - 1,086
340 - 983
7
23
16
28,194 - 47,930
451 - 767
408 - 694
Germany
0
0 - 30
0 - 30
21,224 - 36,080
0 - 1,082
0 - 979
Greece*
15 - 33
26 - 60
11 - 27
21,139 - 35,936
233 - 956
210 - 865
Netherlands*
15 - 33
26 - 60
11 - 27
2,873 - 4,884
32 - 130
29 - 118
0
0 - 37
0 - 37
78,317 - 133,138
0 - 4,926
0 - 4,457
Luxembourg*
24 - 29
27 - 38
2-9
230 - 391
1-4
0-3
Portugal*
24 - 29
27 - 38
2-9
4,873 - 8,284
12 - 74
11 - 67
Romania*
15 - 33
26 - 60
11 - 27
40,131 - 68,222
441 - 1,815
399 - 1,642
Slovakia
0 - 22
0 - 30
0-8
10,144 - 17,244
0 - 138
0 - 125
Spain*
24 - 29
27 - 38
2-9
21,068 - 35,815
51 - 321
46 - 290
Latvia
0 - 17
0 - 25
0-8
1,247 - 2,120
0 - 17
0 - 15
Lithuania*
15 - 33
26 - 60
11 - 27
6,225 - 10,582
68 - 281
62 - 255
Ireland
80 - 100
90 - 130
10 - 30
4,025 - 6,843
40 - 205
36 - 186
Malta
30 - 40
40
0 - 10
775 - 1,317
0-8
0-7
Slovenia*
15 - 33
26 - 60
11 - 27
4,934 - 8,388
54 - 223
49 - 202
251,663 427,827
1,766 - 12,026
1,598 - 10,881
Average
cost of a
dental
amalgam
restoration
(EUR)
Average
cost of a
Hg-free
restoration
(EUR)
25 - 58
Czech Rep.
MS with cost
differences
Austria
Poland
EU27
* Estimated values. For these MS, the average cost difference is assumed to be equal to the average value for the
group of MS they belong to.
NB: The average restoration costs take into account possible amounts reimbursed by national health insurance
schemes, where they exist.
These additional costs are due to the progressive substitution of dental amalgam with Hg-free
fillings in the baseline scenario. If one assumes that the average cost difference between
amalgam and Hg-free restorations would remain similar in future years (which is a relatively
pessimistic assumption), it is estimated that, in the baseline scenario, the overall cost borne by
the patients will increase by between EUR 1.8 and 12 billion between 2010 and 2025 (cumulated
70 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Part A - Problem definition and objectives
cost over the 15-year period). In fact, dentists’ skills in the handling of Hg-free filling materials are
expected to improve with the increasing demand for such materials, leading to reduced
restoration times for Hg-free materials and possibly reduced treatment costs. Assuming that cost
difference between amalgam and Hg-free restorations would decrease by 1% annually for the
above mentioned reasons, it is estimated that the overall cost borne by the patients will increase
by EUR 1.6 to 11 billion between 2010 and 2025. Based on these two estimates, the average cost
per capita at the EU level is estimated at between EUR 4 to 24 for the period 2010-2025.
In the estimates presented above, it is also assumed that the amounts or fee percentages
possibly reimbursed by national health insurance schemes would remain stable in future years.
The expected increase in dental restoration costs, if not covered by existing national health
insurance schemes, may benefit the private insurance as more EU citizens will be encouraged to
subscribe to private insurance schemes covering dental treatment.
2.6.3.4
Waste management companies
Additional revenues for companies that manufacture, install and maintain amalgam separators
as well as for companies that collect and treat dental mercury-containing waste are directly
linked to the cost estimates for dentists presented in Section 2.6.3.2 (costs of amalgam
separators and hazardous waste management). Some companies offer several or all of these
services to the dentists.
2.6.3.5
EU citizens
Current situation
Currently, the use of dental amalgam affects EU citizens mainly through their tax contributions
to the costs of managing mercury-contaminated urban wastewater and municipal waste (usually
included in local taxes).
Because a significant proportion of solid mercury-containing waste from dental practices is still
not managed in compliance with EU waste legislation (i.e. separately collected and treated as
hazardous waste), some mercury ends up in municipal and biomedical waste streams. The
presence of mercury in municipal waste, partly due to the presence of dental waste, obliges
certain municipal waste incinerators to operate specific flue gas treatment devices in order to
comply with mercury emission limit values, which represents an additional cost to be borne by
the municipalities and therefore by local taxpayers.
The residual quantities of mercury in dental effluents entering urban WWTPs also generate costs
due to the lower potential for agricultural use of sewage sludge (usually the cheapest sludge
management option) and/or the need to install mercury abatement devices in sewage sludge
incinerators. Although these costs are first incurred by local authorities responsible for public
wastewater treatment services, they are finally passed on to all local taxpayers. These costs are
likely to be higher in those Member States where only a small proportion of dental facilities are
equipped with amalgam separators and/or where such separators are not well maintained.
Most of the mercury entering WWTPs ends up in sewage sludge. For WWTP operators, the
consequence of too high mercury levels in sewage sludge is the impossibility for them to discard
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 71
Part A - Problem definition and objectives
the sludge as fertilizer for agricultural use. Sludge spreading in agriculture is a relatively cheap
option for WWTP operators; it is also an environmentally friendly option, as long as the sludge is
exempt from potential soil contaminants. Mercury is one of the potential contaminants of
sewage sludge, however, it is not the only one (other toxic heavy metals, organic pollutants and
pathogens may cause concerns for the agricultural use of the sludge). Estimates on the cost of
switching from agricultural use of sludge (landspreading) to other disposal routes are presented
in Annex F; average EU costs range from EUR 110 per tonne of dry solids to switch from
landspreading to landfilling, to EUR 200 per tonne of dry solids to switch from landspreading to
mono-incineration. The Swedish Chemical Agency (KEMI) provided an example from the
municipality of Eslöv in 2005: an amount of 1,210 t of sewage sludge was contaminated by
approximately 25 ml of Hg and the sludge was no longer considered suitable for use in
agriculture. The cost of landfilling of this sludge and the additional treatment required reached
the amount of EUR 78,000. According to KEMI estimations, if all sludge were to be incinerated in
Sweden, this would result in an additional cost in the range of EUR 100-200 million per year.
The wastewater treatment organisations consulted during this study did not report that mercury
was a significant limiting factor in itself for the agricultural use of sewage sludge, given the
current regulatory limit values for the Hg content of sludge (which are relatively high in many
Member States). However, one Spanish company, in charge of wastewater treatment for the city
of Bilbao, reported that the presence of high mercury levels in sludge involved considerable extra
costs for the treatment of sludge by incineration in 2010-2011122. In order to comply with
legislation, the following had to be installed at the WWTP:
Equipment (2 units) to analyse mercury in atmospheric emissions: EUR
140,000
Special filters (2 units) with activated carbon and lime to remove mercury
from atmospheric emissions: EUR 4,300,000.
Future trends
According to the wastewater treatment organisations consulted in the present study, the
mercury content in sewage sludge is, in most Member States, not a legally limiting factor for the
use of sludge in agricultural facilities, due to relatively high content of mercury allowed by
current legislation on sewage sludge. In this respect, the reduction of mercury in the wastewater,
due to reduced use of amalgam in dental restorations, is not expected to have a direct legal
impact on the possibility to use sewage sludge in agriculture. However, mercury remains a
limiting factor in the use of sludge in agricultural soils from both suitability and sustainability
perspectives. Therefore, any decrease in the levels of mercury in sludge can be considered
indirectly as a positive economic aspect since the overall decreasing levels of mercury increase
the potential for agricultural use of sludge in the long-term (assuming the levels of other sewage
sludge contaminants would also decrease in the future).
Another way by which EU taxpayers may be affected by future trends in dental amalgam use, in
the baseline scenario, is through a possible increase in their financial contribution to national
health insurance schemes. In the baseline scenario, given the current economic context in the EU
122
Information provided by the Bilbao wastewater treatment company
72 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Part A - Problem definition and objectives
and the expected decrease in the costs of composite restorations, it is assumed that the rules
concerning the coverage of dental restoration by existing national health insurance schemes will
not be modified between 2010 and 2025. As part of the study, information on the coverage of
dental restorations by national health insurance schemes was obtained for 20 Member States
(see Table 26 in Annex E). All these countries except CY, IT and MT have national health
insurance schemes in place. Insurance schemes in the remaining 16 Member States cover both
dental amalgam and Hg-free restorations, except in SE where dental amalgam is banned and
with some limitations in the reimbursement of Hg-free fillings in some countries (e.g. only in
children and pregnant women and/or only in front teeth). Information obtained on the amounts
reimbursed is not always very accurate, thus only some general conclusions can be drawn from
the information available. It appears that a majority of the 16 Member States reviewed apply
fixed reimbursement tariffs whatever the material chosen (hence, if there is an extra cost for Hgfree restorations, it has to be borne by the patient). However, there are a few exceptions where a
higher amount may be reimbursed for Hg-free restorations, for example in BE where the
reimbursement is percentage-based. With the progressive substitution of dental amalgam by
Hg-free materials, and given the currently higher cost of Hg-free restorations in most Member
States, the financial contribution of some taxpayers may increase in those Member States where
dental restoration costs are partly covered by a national health insurance scheme and where the
scheme reimburses a higher amount for Hg-free restorations than for dental amalgam
restorations. Based the above information, such a situation may be encountered in Belgium and
possibly also in a few other Member States. However, under the assumption that there would be
no changes to existing schemes, public health spending in the majority of Member States is not
expected to be affected by the progressive substitution of dental amalgam by Hg-free materials.
2.6.3.6
Crematoria
Current situation
Environmental costs incurred by crematoria correspond to the installation and maintenance of
technical devices to capture mercury in flue gases. According to Defra123, such costs are partly or
fully passed on to crematoria’s customers.
Currently there are approximately 2,700 crematoria at the EU level and 2.5 million cremations per
year. According to available information, approximately 40% of crematoria are equipped with
mercury abatement devices (further details are provided in Annex C).
Costs of mercury abatement in crematoria are presented in Annex F. According to questionnaire
responses of the present study, the cost for installing a mercury abatement system varies from
EUR 250,000 to 350,000 per cremator. In addition, the cost for the collection and treatment of
the mercury-containing residues is estimated at approximately EUR 3 per cremation.
Given the above figures, it can be roughly estimated that the current cost incurred by EU
crematoria to control mercury emissions represents an existing investment in the range of EUR
540 to 755 million (assuming 2 cremators per crematorium) and annual waste management costs
of approximately EUR 2.9 million per year.
123
Public consultations organised by Defra in 2003 and 2004 concerning mercury abatement from crematoria in the UK
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 73
Part A - Problem definition and objectives
If all cremations taking place at present were subject to mercury abatement (this would be
justified for environmental reasons), the total costs for crematoria would be in the range of
EUR 1,350 to 1,890 million in terms of investment in abatement equipment and approximately
EUR 7.3 million/year for waste management.
Future trends
In four Member States for which information has been provided or identified (IT, NL, PL and PT),
the number of cremations is predicted to rise in the forthcoming years. In most other Member
States, a similar trend is likely to be observed. It is unclear whether this will affect the number of
crematoria as well. In the same time, it can be assumed that the proportion of crematoria
equipped with mercury abatement devices will continue to increase in future years, as a result of
more stringent recent national legislations adopted in some Member States (e.g. FR and the UK)
and the effect of the OSPAR Recommendation concerning mercury emissions from crematoria
(which is still not followed by all Parties). Assuming the proportion of crematoria equipped with
mercury abatement systems would double between 2010 and 2025 to reach 80% in 2025, this
would result in 2,160 additional abatement systems to be installed (assuming 2 cremators per
crematorium), representing an investment cost in the range of EUR 540 to 755 million.
2.6.3.7
Public authorities
The historical and current use of dental amalgam creates administrative burden for Member
State environmental authorities due to the associated mercury emissions that need to be
regulated and monitored, in order to ensure the effective enforcement of the existing legal
requirements. Enforcement efforts concern in particular mercury emissions from dental clinics,
from urban WWTPs and from crematoria (in those Member States where such emissions are
regulated). No information is currently available to quantify this administrative burden.
Even with the expected gradual decline of dental amalgam use in future years, a similar or even
higher level of administrative burden will continue to exist in the baseline scenario, because of
the need to enforce environmental requirements associated with mercury emissions from
historical dental amalgam use and the recent adoption of more stringent mercury emission
restrictions. For example, in some Member States (e.g. FR and the UK), legislation has been
adopted recently to further regulate mercury emissions from crematoria, which will require
additional enforcement efforts from public authorities.
2.6.4
Social aspects
The main social aspects related to the use of dental amalgam include employment in the dental
fillings industry, occupational health and safety of dental personnel and public health and safety.
2.6.4.1
Employment
Current situation
In this study, it was not possible to estimate the total number of jobs associated with the
production and supply of dental fillings in the EU, in the absence of specific information provided
74 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Part A - Problem definition and objectives
by the industry. However, the number of EU producers of dental fillings, with a breakdown by
Member State and by type of filling materials, is presented in Annex E. No information could be
obtained on the number of jobs associated with dental waste management.
Future trends
As it was pointed out in Section 2.6.3.1 , the progressive substitution of dental amalgam with Hgfree materials in the baseline scenario is not expected to induce major socio-economic changes in
the dental fillings industry (including with regard to the number of jobs), since almost all
manufacturers already produce Hg-free filling materials. Only three EU companies (one in CZ,
one in IT and one in NL) have been identified which only produce mercury for dental restoration
applications; two of these companies produce solely bulk mercury. In addition, one UK-based
company produces amalgam alloy powders. All of these companies manufacture other products
which are not directly related to materials used in dental restorations. The companies which
produce solely dental amalgam related products are small sized and employ 10 to 50 persons.
The company that produces dental amalgam alloy powders is part of a multinational group which
employs over 15,000 people worldwide and has a wide range of other products.
2.6.4.2
Occupational health and safety of dental personnel
Current situation
Some air emissions may occur at dental practices during the handling of amalgam. This may
include releases from accidental mercury spills, malfunctioning amalgamators, leaky amalgam
capsules or malfunctioning bulk mercury dispensers, trituration, placement and condensation of
amalgam, polishing or removal of amalgam, vaporisation of mercury from contaminated
instruments, and open storage of amalgam scrap or used capsules124. Dental personnel may also
be exposed to mercury vapours from dental effluents’ treatment devices (chairside traps and
amalgam separators).
However, the increasing use of pre-dosed capsules (instead of bulk mercury) contributes to
reducing emissions occurring during amalgam storage and preparation, and the exposure of
dental personnel to these mercury vapours.
In the environmental assessment of dental amalgam use presented in Annex C, it was estimated
that the handling of amalgam currently generates mercury air emissions of approximately
0.5 t Hg/year, while approximately 3 t Hg/year are emitted by dental effluents’ treatment devices.
Dental personnel may be exposed to these mercury vapours if protection measures are not used
or are not efficient (e.g. exhaust ventilation). This may result in adverse health effects (see Annex
D and Section 2.3.3) but there is some controversy on the actual magnitude of these health
effects. It should be noted that many of the dental workers – including dental assistants, dental
nurses, and hygienists – are women of childbearing age, which makes them particularly
susceptible to the occupational hazards caused by mercury vapours.
124
JADA (2003) ‘Dental mercury hygiene recommendations,’ ADA Council on Scientific Affairs, American Dental
Association, Journal of the American Dental Association Vol. 134 (as cited by Concorde/EEB)
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 75
Part A - Problem definition and objectives
Future trends
With the expected gradual decrease in dental amalgam use in the baseline scenario, the exposure
of dental personnel to mercury vapours from the handling of amalgam would reduce accordingly.
However, as long as mercury is present in old fillings, dental personnel will continue to be
exposed to mercury vapours from dental effluents and from solid mercury-containing waste, if
there are no adequate protection measures in place.
2.6.4.3
Public health and safety
Current situation
Health aspects of dental amalgam
In the current situation, EU citizens are exposed to indirect health hazards from the presence of
mercury from dental origin in the environment. As pointed out in the problem definition (see
Section 2.3.2), certain EU population groups – and especially women of childbearing age and
children – are subject to unacceptable levels of exposure to mercury, principally through the
ingestion of fish contaminated by methylmercury. This induces a risk of adverse effects on
health, in particular affecting the nervous system and diminishing intellectual capacity.
In the Annex XV REACH Restriction Report concerning mercury in certain measuring devices
(2010), ECHA conducted a review of available literature on health and environmental costs of
mercury pollution125. It concluded that many studies have estimated rather high values of health
damage costs associated with mercury pollution (as compared with other heavy metals such as
lead or cadmium). These range from about EUR 5,000 to 20,000 per kg Hg emitted to air but can
be much higher (e.g. EUR 250,000) if the less certain cardiovascular effects are included. Many of
the values estimated to date relate to the costs of IQ losses resulting from mercury pollution.
These values relate to emissions to air, hence they cover only one aspect of mercury pollution
caused by dental mercury emissions. As explained by ECHA in the above-mentioned REACH
Restriction Report, there are numerous uncertainties involved in evaluating costs of health
damages, including e.g. changes in mercury deposition rates, changes in fish methylmercury
levels, changes in human intake of methylmercury, changes in IQ due to exposure, and changes
in all-cause mortality and fatal and nonfatal heart attacks in adults. Much of the variability of
economic cost estimates is explained by differing assumptions made in response to uncertainties
in the physical and health sciences of mercury and methylmercury.
As presented in Section 2.3.3, the direct health effects of dental amalgam fillings are still subject
to scientific debate, with no consensus yet on the associated level of risk for human health.
Hence, no attempt to quantify such costs has been made.
125
ECHA (2010) Annex XV REACH Restriction Report concerning mercury in certain measuring devices – Appendix 2
(http://echa.europa.eu/documents/10162/13641/annex_xv_restriction_report_mercury_en.pdf)
76 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Part A - Problem definition and objectives
Health aspects of Hg-free filling materials
With regard to Hg-free filling materials, both benefits and possible drawbacks have been
reported to date.
Outside the fact that they eliminate the need for mercury in dentistry, one main advantage of
Hg-free restoration techniques are that they are less invasive and use filling materials which react
with the tooth tissue to form new, permanent tissue with a composition close to the original one.
Such techniques leave more intact tooth tissue in the treated tooth as compared with dental
amalgam restoration. While dental amalgam placement tends to weaken the overall tooth
structure (due to the significant amount of healthy tooth tissue that has to be removed), ART and
other Minimally Invasive Techniques will most likely prolong the life of the tooth before implants
(expensive) and/or extraction will be necessary. In a recent WHO report, it was concluded that
‘fostering the philosophy of preserving the tooth structure and improving the survival of the tooth is
imperative’107.
EU health authorities and dental associations consider that the use of non-metallic restoration
materials is safe for patients (including pregnant woman and children) and dental health
professionals. However, it is recognised that the use of alternative metallic restoration materials
such as gold, nickel and titanium alloys may carry risks for children and adults with allergic and
autoimmune diseases. To date, no evidence of adverse effects on human health of alternative
materials has been established except for skin reactions of dental staff, who handled resin
without gloves before it hardened. During in vitro experiments, it was observed that the very
small amount of remaining compounds after the placement of alternative filling materials has
toxic effects to pulp and gingival cells. Some induce DNA-damage or gene mutations in
mammalian cells.
Some resin-based filling materials contain bisphenol A (BPA, a known endocrine disruptor).
Some laboratory testing has suggested that BPA may affect reproduction and development in
animals by mimicking the effects of the female hormone oestrogen, thereby raising concerns
about its safety. Although these effects have not been observed in humans and are questionable
at the exposure levels resulting from consumer products, some governments have recently taken
a precautionary approach by banning the use of BPA in the manufacture of certain consumer
products such as baby bottles (Canada, EU) and food containers (France). With regard to dental
materials, studies conducted to date have found that exposure to BPA present in composite
resins are far lower than tolerable daily intake values (e.g. those defined by Health Canada, the
US EPA or the EU Scientific Committee for Food) and do not present a significant risk for
estrogenic effects126,127. There is currently no scientific evidence to show that the very small
126
Richardson GM, Clark KE and Williams DR (1999) Preliminary estimates of adult exposure to bisphenol-A from food,
dental materials and other sources. Environment Toxicology and Risk Assessment: Standardization of biomarkers for
endocrine disruption and environmental assessment: Eight volume, ASTM STP 1364, DS Henshel, MC Black and MC
Harrass, Eds., American Society for Testing and Materials, West Conshohocken, PA.
127
Steven G. Hentges, Ph.D. Executive Director, Polycarbonate Business Unit, American Plastics Council, Bisphenol-A
in Dental Composites, http://www.bisphenol-a.org/human/dental.html
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 77
Part A - Problem definition and objectives
concentration of BPA has any adverse health impacts128; the quantities released are indeed much
lower than in other current applications of this widely used compound. It should be noted that
composite resins are widely available without BPA. In fact, according to the American Dental
Association, BPA is rarely an ingredient in these Hg-free alternatives129. A few examples of BPAfree composite dental materials are listed in Table 6 below.
Table 6: Examples of BPA-free composite dental materials
Product
128
Manufacturer
Admira Flow
VOCO GMBH
Amaris
VOCO GMBH
Bisfil 2B
Bisco, Inc.
Bisfil II
Bisco, Inc.
Clearfil Core
Kuraray America Inc.
Construct
Kerr Manf. Co.
Filtek Supreme-XT
3M Corp.
Flow-Rite
Pulpdent Corp. of America
Grandio
VOCO GMBH
Grandio Flow
VOCO GMBH
Herculite XR
Kerr Manf. Co.
Luxapost
DMG
MIRIS
Coltene
Premise
Kerr Manf. Co.
Solitaire
Heraeus
Synergy D6
Coltene
Synergy Duo Shade
Coltene
Starfil
Danville Innovative Dental Products
TI- Core
Natural Essential Dental Systems
Such a finding has been reported in various studies, e.g.:
-
SCENIHR (2008) The safety of dental amalgam and alternative dental restoration materials for patients and
users (http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_risk/committees/04_scenihr/docs/scenihr_o_016.pdf)
-
Van Landuyt et al. (2001) How much do resin-based dental materials release? A meta-analytical approach.
Amalgam-related complaints and cognition. Dental Abstracts, Volume 56, Issue 2, March-April 2011, Page 83
-
Erdal S. in collab. with Orris P. (2012) Mercury in dental amalgam and resin-based alternatives : a
comparative health risk evaluation. Study carried out by the Research Collaborative at the University of
Illinois in partnership with Health Care Without Harm
(http://www.noharm.org/us_canada/reports/2012/jun/rep2012-06-11.php)
-
Research works conducted by G. Mark Richardson (Ph.D, Principal, Risklogic Scientific Services Inc., Ontario,
Canada)
-
British Dental Association (BDA), Fact File: Bisphenol A in dental materials (2011)
(http://www.bda.org/Images/bisphenol_a_in_dental_materials.pdf)
129
ADA Council on Scientific Affairs, Statement on Bisphenol A and Dental Materials (July 2010),
http://www.ada.org/1766.aspx
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Part A - Problem definition and objectives
In June 2012, the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare released a report on BPA in
dental materials130. The report concludes that there may be traces of BPA in dental materials
even if not stated in the product information, since it is not compulsory to report low levels of
BPA if not intentionally added. However, in such materials, the BPA concentrations are so low
that even if the fillings would totally disintegrate in a four-year period, the levels of exposure to
BPA would remain far below the EU limit for BPA intake.
Future trends
The progressive substitution of dental amalgam with Hg-free alternatives, in line with the trends
described in Section 2.6.1.2, will tend to reduce public exposure to indirect health hazards caused
by mercury emissions from dental amalgam use. However, this improvement will only occur over
a long period of time (i.e. decades), as there can be a significant delay between the time mercury
is emitted to the environment and the time it triggers possible adverse health effects following
inhalation of mercury vapours or ingestion of contaminated food by humans.
2.7
Policy objectives
The general objective of any future policies in relation to mercury in dental amalgam will be to
reduce the environmental impacts from the use of mercury in dentistry and to reduce the
contribution of dental amalgam to the overall mercury problem. In the long-term, this should
contribute to achieving reduced mercury levels in the environment, at EU and global level,
especially levels of methylmercury in fish. This general objective may take decades to be
achieved, as the present levels of mercury in the environment are representative of past mercury
emissions, and even without further emissions it would take some time for these levels to fall.
This long-term policy objective can be achieved through specific policy actions aiming to:
Minimise mercury emissions from current and historical use of mercury in
dentistry; and
Minimise and, where feasible, eliminate the source of pollution, i.e. phase out
dental amalgam use.
130
Socialstyrelsen (2012) Bisphenol A in dental materials (http://www.socialstyrelsen.se/publikationer2012/2012-648/Sidor/default.aspx) (in Swedish)
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80 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Part A – Policy options
Chapter 3:
Policy options
P
olicy options identified to address the environmental impacts of dental amalgam use are
described in this chapter. These policy options have been identified on the basis of the
evidence analysed as part of this study and presented in Chapter 2 as well as initial
feedback received from the stakeholders, while taking into account the subsidiarity and
proportionality principles. The rationale for each policy option is explained, as well as its main
objective and the specific problems it could address. The analysis highlights options warranting
further investigation and those which were excluded from the analysis, based on preliminary
screening.
3.1
Policy options selected for further analysis
‘No policy change’ option
In this option, no EU actions would be taken to reduce or ban the use of dental amalgam. The use
of dental amalgam may continue to decline in the EU, mainly as a result of growing aesthetic
concerns, although it is difficult to predict the speed of this decline. Dental amalgam may well
continue to be used for many years in some of the less wealthy Member States.
In spite of Member States’ efforts to improve the enforcement of the overall EU waste
legislation, it is expected that application of such legislation in dental facilities would not improve
significantly (as it is not currently considered as a priority by all Member States). It is also possible
that mercury-related requirements of EU water legislation may not be properly anticipated by all
Member States, preventing the achievement of long-term EU water quality objectives with
regard to mercury.
The baseline scenario corresponding to a no policy change situation is described in detail in
Section 2.6.
Option 1: Improve enforcement of EU waste legislation regarding dental amalgam
In this option, the Commission would ask Member States to report on measures taken to manage
dental amalgam waste in compliance with EU waste legislation (i.e. as hazardous waste) and to
provide evidence of the effectiveness of the measures in place. Usual steps taken to comply with
these requirements are the presence of amalgam separators in dental practices, an adequate
maintenance of these separators in order to ensure a minimum 95% efficiency and to have the
amalgam waste collected and treated by companies with the adequate authorisation to handle
this type of hazardous waste.
Immediate action would be required from those Member States not able to demonstrate
compliance of dental facilities with EU waste legislation requirements, with the possibility to
impose administrative sanctions if corrective actions are not implemented within a short
timeframe.
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Part A – Policy options
Option 2: Encourage Member States to take national measures to reduce the use of
dental amalgam while promoting the use of Hg-free filling materials
In this option, the Commission would encourage Member States to take national measures
aiming to reduce the use of dental amalgam (for example via a Communication) and Member
States would have to report annually to the Commission on the measures taken and their effect.
Such measures would include, in particular:
Measures to improve dentists’ awareness of the environmental impacts of
mercury and the need to reduce its use
Measures to review dental teaching practices so that Hg-free restorations
techniques are given preference over dental amalgam techniques
Measures to improve dentists’ awareness and skills with regard to the Hg-free
and cost-efficient Atraumatic Restorative Treatment (ART) technique, so that
this technique is used in all cases where it is adequate (such as in children and
elder people)
Measures to improve public dental health so as to reduce the occurrence of
cavities.
The expected result of this policy option would be to accelerate the shift from dental amalgam to
Hg-free materials by removing the cost barrier present in many Member States, by increasing
awareness of current and future practitioners concerning the adverse environmental effects of
dental amalgam and the benefits of Hg-free restoration techniques and by improving the skills of
practitioners in Hg-free dentistry.
A higher awareness of dentists on the overall environmental consequences of using dental
amalgam could help reduce dental amalgam use at EU level and the associated environmental
impacts. In spite of awareness raising initiatives carried out by national dental associations, more
can be done in some Member States.
A strengthening of dental health prevention policies across the EU would, in the long-term, lead
to a reduced need for dental restoration and therefore a reduced consumption of dental
amalgam and other filling materials. However, it is recognised that such prevention policies are
only one instrument among others as they cannot fully address mercury pollution caused by
dental amalgam use (there will always be a need for dental restoration treatments).
In the present study, it is assumed that such a recommendation would be addressed by the
Commission to the Member States in 2013.
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Part A – Policy options
Option 3: Ban the use of mercury in dentistry
One possibility for implementing this ban would be to add the use of mercury in dentistry to
Annex XVII of the REACH Regulation131, with the possibility to define limited exemptions to take
into account specific medical conditions where dental amalgam cannot be substituted at present.
Similar exemptions as those defined in Sweden could be proposed, i.e. for use in adult patients in
hospital dental clinics if: 1) The patient’s specific medical condition makes use of alternative
materials unsuitable 2) Alternative techniques do not provide adequate restorations and 3) The
clinic has adequate equipment and routines with regard to the environmental impact of dental
amalgam (amalgam separators, mercury waste management etc.). It can be noted that dental
amalgam restorations carried out under the exemption defined in Sweden have represented a
very small number of cases: only about 25 patients have been treated with dental amalgam in
Sweden between June 2009 (when the general ban came into force) and June 2011. According to
KEMI, in 2010, 16 dental amalgam restorations were carried out under this exemption, out of a
total number of almost 3.3 million restorations in Sweden.
The ban would apply to the use of mercury in dental treatment in the EU but the manufacture of
dental amalgam for export outside the EU would still be allowed.
In the present study, it is assumed that a decision to submit a REACH Restriction Dossier would
be made in 2013, leading to the adoption of a legal ban that would become applicable 5 years
later, i.e. in 2018. This 5 year-period takes into account the time needed to prepare the REACH
Restriction Dossier and follow the REACH process leading to the adoption of a ban on the use of
dental amalgam. This should also provide sufficient time for the dental practitioners and industry
to anticipate the future ban.
It should be noted that the choice of the most relevant policy instrument to implement Option 3
would need to be further investigated. Another possibility would be to see whether EU legislation
on medical devices (Directive 93/42/EEC) could address the environmental risks of dental
amalgam.
The aim of this policy option would be to accelerate the shift from dental amalgam to Hg-free
restoration techniques and to ensure a rapid cessation of mercury emissions due to current use of
dental amalgam in the EU, in line with the objective of EU legislation on water quality. It would
also aim to accelerate the development of technical innovations in the field of Hg-free materials,
in particular making them more affordable and increasing their longevity.
131
Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 on Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals – Annex XVII
of the REACH Regulation contains the list of all restricted substances, specifying which uses are restricted.
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 83
Part A – Policy options
3.2
Policy options excluded from the analysis
Two other possible policy options were excluded from the analysis based on preliminary
screening. The reasons for not considering them further in this study are explained below.
Establishing mercury emission thresholds in crematoria
Mercury emissions from crematoria remain small compared to other mercury emission sources,
they seem to have stabilised over the last 5 years and there is currently no evidence that such
emissions would increase significantly in future years. Therefore, it is questionable whether it
would be proportionate to take additional action at the Community level for this relatively small
issue, especially when the OSPAR Recommendation already covers the majority of cremations in
the EU, large emitting countries such as the UK and France have recently implemented more
stringent legislation and different types of legal requirements have been implemented in several
other Member States to tackle this problem (e.g. different types of Emission Limit Values defined
in at least 9 Member States). Besides, the cultural and social sensitivities around cremation would
suggest it might better be addressed at the Member State level, on the basis of subsidiarity.
Informing patients on the benefits and risks of dental restoration materials
This policy option was not considered relevant given the complexity of communicating easily
understandable information to patients on the environmental issues associated with dental
amalgam. The focus of the present study is on the environmental impacts of dental amalgam
and, with such a policy option, there is a risk of creating confusion among patients between
direct health risks of dental amalgam on the one hand, and environmental and indirect health
risks on the other hand.
84 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Part A - Analysis of impacts
Chapter 4:
Analysis of impacts
T
he likely environmental, economic, and social impacts of policy options aiming to reduce
the environmental impacts of dental amalgam use are analysed in this chapter. The
impacts discussed are expressed in terms of incremental positive or negative impacts with
regard to the baseline scenario (‘no policy change’ option), meaning that they result from the
implementation of new or altered policy actions.
4.1
4.1.1
Environmental impacts
Option 1
Based on the latest information provided by the Member States, it was estimated that
approximately 25% of EU dental practices are still not equipped with amalgam separators. As
described in Table 39 (see Annex H), the share of dental practices equipped with amalgam
separators differs widely across the Member States. Besides, given that a number of the existing
separators are suspected of not being adequately maintained, the average actual efficiency of
separators was roughly estimated to be around 70% at present (instead of the standard 95%
efficiency for which they are designed).
Based on the assumptions used to carry out the environmental assessment presented in Annex C,
having 95% of mercury in dental effluents captured in 100% of dental facilities (under Option 1) –
instead of 70% of mercury captured in only 75% of dental facilities (current situation) – would
result in approximately 7 t/year of avoided mercury releases to urban WWTPs in the EU. This
would represent a 30% reduction of the mercury load with regard to the baseline situation for
2015 (2015 is used as the reference year here, as it is assumed that the effect of Option 1 would
be observed from this year).
The impact of this policy option will be more significant in those Member States where only a
small proportion of dental facilities are equipped with amalgam separators (BG, EE, ES, GR, HU,
IE, LT, LU, PL, RO and SK). In other Member States, the impact will mainly be an improvement of
separators’ maintenance (ensuring a minimum of 95% efficiency is achieved) and the use of
compliant waste handling and treatment options.
A co-benefit of this option would be to increase the capture of other metals present in amalgam
and released from dental chairs (e.g. Ag, Sn, Cu, Sn); such metals have the potential to reduce
the efficiency of urban WWTPs due to their toxicity to micro-organisms used in WWTPs, above
certain concentrations132.
132
Shraim A, Alsuhaimi A, Thamer Al-Thakafy J. (2011) Dental clinics: A point pollution source, not only of mercury but
also of other amalgam constituents. Chemosphere, Volume 84, Issue 8, Pages 1133-1139
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A full compliance of dental facilities with EU waste legislation will also increase the quantity of
mercury-containing waste sent to hazardous waste treatment facilities (assuming 100% of the
mercury waste generated will follow this route) and will avoid the presence of mercury in the
municipal and biomedical waste streams. With all mercury-containing waste treated as
hazardous waste, emissions of mercury to air and water due to inadequate waste handling and
treatment will be avoided, which corresponds to approximately 7 t /year of avoided Hg emissions
to air, 2 t/year of avoided Hg emissions to water and 11 t/year avoided Hg emissions to soil and
groundwater (based on the assumptions used in the environmental assessment in Annex C). All
mercury from dental waste will be either recycled or sequestered for long-term, thus the
potential for such mercury to become bioavailable and accumulate in the food chain will be
mostly eliminated.
4.1.2
Option 2
The actual impacts of this policy option are difficult to quantify because of the non-mandatory
nature of this option. Member States would be free to choose which measure or combination of
measures they would implement to promote a reduction in dental amalgam use, with no binding
target to achieve. There is also little quantified evidence available on the possible impacts of
measures that can be recommended by the EU.
However, for the purposes of the present assessment, it is assumed that this policy option would
achieve an intermediate result between the ‘no policy option’ and Option 3 (the most radical
option). The key assumptions made here concern the threshold levels that would be reached by
2025 in terms of the share of dental amalgam restorations:
Group 1 countries: the share of dental amalgam restorations would remain
close to zero
Group 2 countries: the share of dental amalgam restorations would stabilise
between 0% and 10% of the total number of dental restorations
Group 3 countries: the share of dental amalgam restorations would stabilise
between 10% and 15% of the total number of dental restorations.
Under this policy option, the demand for dental mercury would stabilise around 20 t Hg/year in
2025 (instead of 35 t Hg/year in the baseline scenario), hence the avoided mercury use would be
approximately 15 t Hg/year in 2025. However, it would be difficult to obtain any further decrease
due to strong reluctance to completely phase out dental amalgam use in some Member States.
With such a decrease in dental amalgam use, it is estimated that mercury releases to the
environment would be reduced by at least 3% with regard to the baseline scenario for year 2025
(according to the environmental assessment presented in Annex C and considering no change to
other parameters such as waste and wastewater control measures).
With an increased use of alternative fillings, in particular composite resins, the question of the
environmental impacts of such materials, compared to dental amalgam, can be posed. The
following analysis is made by Dr. Richardson, who has conducted a number of research works
86 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Part A - Analysis of impacts
comparing the safety of composite resins and dental amalgam133: ‘The environmental impacts of
composite resin use in dentistry have never been quantitatively assessed. However, the primary
environmental issue of concern with respect to composite resins and sealants appears to be the BPA
that could be released to municipal wastewater systems and the subsequent potential for
environmental estrogenic activity that such BPA might impart to the WWTP effluent emissions.
Although municipal WWTP effluents are known to have estrogenic activity at the point of outfall,
that estrogenic activity is due exclusively to the endogenous (natural) and pharmaceutical
oestrogens that have been excreted by the populations in the catchment areas for the municipal
wastewater systems134. BPA, if present, is in too small a concentration, and has too low an
estrogenic potential relative to natural and pharmaceutical oestrogens (between 1,000 and 10,000
times less estrogenic than 17-β estradiol) to contribute any detectable estrogenic activity to
municipal STP effluents that is detectable above that of the natural and pharmaceutical oestrogen
content of those effluents. Therefore, concern regarding the environmental estrogenic impact of
BPA from use of dental composite resins and sealants has no basis in current scientific knowledge of
this potential issue.’ A recent study carried out by the Public Health University of Illinois also
concludes that environmental releases of constituents found in resin-based alternative fillings are
expected to be ‘very small, except in very special circumstances (e.g. leakage from landfills receiving
large quantities of dental waste)’.135
4.1.3
Option 3
This option will lead to an almost complete cessation of mercury releases associated with the
placement of new fillings, which will occur within a 5-year horizon following the decision to
submit a Reach Restriction Dossier, i.e. by 2018. However, as soon as a decision to prepare a
REACH restriction proposal is made (in 2013), a significant decrease in dental amalgam use is
expected to occur, as the stakeholders will tend to anticipate the change in legislation (the future
ban will increase awareness on the environmental problems caused by dental amalgam, among
dentists and patients, making dental amalgam a less favoured material). Within the transition
period (2013-2017), it is assumed that the decrease in dental amalgam use will be four times
greater than in the baseline scenario, at approximately 20% per year.
When the ban starts to apply, in 2018, the avoided mercury use is estimated at approximately
50 t Hg/year (in line with the expected slow decrease in amalgam use over time, described in the
baseline scenario). Only very small amounts of mercury may still be used to treat specific medical
conditions (the experience from Sweden shows that dental restorations temporarily exempted,
133
Written information provided by G. Mark Richardson (Ph.D, Principal, Risklogic Scientific Services Inc., Ontario,
Canada) during the stakeholder consultation for this study
134
Richardson and Fulton (2009) A preliminary Canadian environmental emissions inventory for endogenous and retail
pharmaceutical estrogens. Human and Ecological Risk Assessment, 15(6):1187-1202
135
Erdal S. in collab. with Orris P. (2012) Mercury in dental amalgam and resin-based alternatives : a comparative
health risk evaluation. Study carried out by the Research Collaborative at the University of Illinois in partnership with
Health Care Without Harm (http://www.noharm.org/us_canada/reports/2012/jun/rep2012-06-11.php)
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Part A - Analysis of impacts
until June 2012, from the mercury ban represent less than 0.0002% of the total number of annual
restorations136).
This option, once implemented, will lead to an immediate decrease in environmental mercury
releases. However, because there will still be mercury releases due to old amalgam fillings, it is
estimated that, at the time the ban becomes applicable, mercury releases to the environment
(air/water/soil) would only be reduced by approximately 15% with regard to the baseline
scenario. Mercury releases will progressively decrease over the years, in line with the decrease of
mercury stocks in people’s mouths. Given that the average lifetime of amalgam fillings ranges
from 10 to 15 years, it is expected that mercury releases from historical amalgam use would have
significantly decreased 15 years after the ban takes effects. Residual mercury releases would be
mainly due to amalgam fillings borne by immigrants to the EU and possibly also some specific
cremation practices such as the ones reported in Italy (according to the Italian crematoria
association Federutility, in Italy approximately 20% of cremations are carried out on human
remains and can take place 10 to 20 years after a burial).
The actual environmental impacts (e.g. adverse effects to ecosystems) would however continue
to be observed for several decades, given the potential for elemental mercury to be transformed
into methylmercury and to accumulate in biota.
With regard to the potential environmental impacts of an increased use of composite resins, the
same analysis as for Option 2 can be made (see the above section).
4.2
Economic impacts
4.2.1
Option 1
4.2.1.1
Impacts on dentists
Costs for the installation of amalgam separators
The consequence of Policy Option 1 is that 100% of dental clinics will be equipped with amalgam
separators in the short-term (instead of approximately 75% at present). The impact of this policy
option will be more significant in those Member States where only a small proportion of dental
facilities (assumed to be 20% on average) are equipped with amalgam separators (BG, EE, ES,
GR, HU, IE, LT, LU, PL, RO and SK). In other Member States, the remaining proportion of dental
clinics to become equipped varies between 1% and 20%, according to available information.
Assuming an average number of 2.1 dentists per clinic31, we estimate that approximately 34,200
additional dental clinics across the EU will have to install a separator. By applying the costs that
have been identified in Section 2.6.3.2 (EUR 150 to 750/year), it is estimated that installation and
maintenance of separators in these additional 34,200 clinics will represent a total cost in the
range of EUR 5 to 26 million per year (also including amalgam sludge treatment).
136
Calculations based on: KemI (2010) Government commission report on the effect of the general national ban on
mercury (http://www.kemi.se/upload/Om_kemi/Docs/Regeringsuppdrag/Regeringsuppdrag_Hg_1009.pdf)
88 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
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Increased waste management costs
As explained in the problem definition, even in those Member States with a high proportion of
dental clinics equipped with amalgam separators, there is evidence that many separators are not
as efficient as the standard specifications (95% efficiency in general) due to a lack of adequate
maintenance. Under Option 1, it is assumed that 50% of dental clinics currently equipped with
amalgam separators (i.e. approximately 53,000 dental clinics) will need to significantly improve
the maintenance of their equipment and the management of dental amalgam sludge from the
separator. Given the average costs for the maintenance of separators and the management of
hazardous waste (see Section 2.6.3.2), the additional cost for dentists is estimated to range
between EUR 5 to 32 million per year at the EU level; approximately 20% of these costs
correspond to maintenance works and 80% to waste collection and treatment.
It is important to remind that the costs of Option 1 for the dentists, as estimated above, should
have been incurred at an earlier stage if EU waste legislation had been complied with.
4.2.1.2
Impacts on waste management companies
The cost of Option 1 for the dentists corresponds to additional revenues for waste management
companies involved in the maintenance of amalgam separators and/or in the collection and
treatment of dental amalgam waste. The economic impact of Option 1 for these companies is
therefore positive.
4.2.1.3
Impacts on EU citizens
The implementation of Option 1 will result in a lower mercury content of dental effluents
entering WWTPs. For example, this may reduce the need for municipalities to invest in expensive
mercury abatement devices in sewage sludge incineration plants (see the example of Bilbao
WWTP in Annex C). In certain cases, it may also increase the possibilities of using sewage sludge
for agricultural purposes, a cheaper management option for sewage sludge (see Section 2.6.3.5).
Overall, this will have a positive economic impact on municipalities, and finally on local
taxpayers, as it will reduce the environmental costs associated with the management of mercury
pollution from dental amalgam.
4.2.1.4
Impacts on public authorities
Administrative costs of Option 1 for public authorities mainly correspond to increased awareness
raising activities towards dental clinics and/or a higher frequency of inspections of dental clinics
in order to ensure that EU waste legislation is fully complied with. It is difficult to quantify these
costs in the absence of adequate data available. However, assuming that each inspection
(including a visit and some time for reporting) would take approximately 4 hours and that 10% of
EU dental clinics would be inspected each year, this would result in approximately 35,000 hours
annually in EU27, corresponding to approximately 1 million EUR/year of labour cost for public
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 89
Part A - Analysis of impacts
authorities137. The actual administrative burden would be slightly lower since effective inspection
schemes are reportedly already in place in some Member States (e.g. Germany, Sweden). If
Member States impose financial penalties as a tool to enforce compliance, some revenues might
also be generated through the collection of fines, which may partly offset the labour costs
dedicated to inspection.
4.2.2
Option 2
4.2.2.1
Impacts on manufacturers and suppliers of dental fillings
As in the baseline scenario, negative economic impacts of Option 2 on the dental industry (i.e.
revenue losses) are expected to be minimal since the necessary skills and equipment to
manufacture Hg-free filling materials have already been acquired by the vast majority of
companies. Nevertheless, because the substitution rate of dental amalgam by Hg-free materials
will be more significant under Option 2 than in the baseline scenario, this may give a higher
competitive advantage to companies that focus on the production of Hg-free materials with
regard to companies that still have a significant market share in dental amalgam. The magnitude
of this impact is difficult to estimate due to the uncertainties on the evolution of the global
demand for dental amalgam. For example, an increased demand of dental amalgam in non-EU
countries might encourage the EU dental industry to maintain high levels of dental amalgam
production for exportation.
The increasing demand for Hg-free materials (composites and glass ionomers in particular) is
expected to stimulate innovation concerning the production of these materials, which may lead
to an improvement of technical characteristics, an increased durability of the materials and lower
production costs.
By applying the same methodology as the one described in Section 2.6.3.1, it is estimated that
the expected levels of substitution of dental amalgam by Hg-free materials under Option 2 will
generate an increase in revenues for the EU dental fillings industry of approximately
EUR 3.3 billion for the period 2010-2025, representing a 42% increase with regard to the value
estimated in the baseline scenario. This value should only be regarded as a rough estimate as it is
only based on the sale prices of amalgam and composites in the German market.
There is no specific data that can be used to estimate in quantitative terms the impact of
Option 2 on the sale prices of Hg-free filling materials. However, it seems reasonable to assume
that innovation and increased competition could reduce the difference in sale price between
dental amalgam and Hg-free filling materials (composites or glass ionomers) by up to 25% by
2025, in which case the expected increase in revenues for the EU dental fillings industry would
only range between EUR 2.5 to 3.3 billion for the period 2010-2025, representing an increase of
7% to 42% with regard to the value estimated in the baseline scenario.
137
The cost per hour is taken from the EU Standard Cost Model, for Category 1 staff, in 2006 (average hourly wage for
EU27: 31 EUR)
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4.2.2.2
Impacts on dentists
Acquisition of skills and equipment
In comparison with the baseline scenario, the promotion of Hg-free restoration techniques by
public authorities and an increased awareness of patients will presumably increase the need for
dentists who are not skilled in Hg-free restoration techniques to acquire such new skills. This will
concern dentists in Group 3 countries and, to a lesser extent, dentists in Group 2 countries (as
defined in Table 2).
As explained in Section 2.6.3.2, the potential need for additional equipment is not expected to
generate significant additional investment and operating costs for dentists.
Under Option 2, Member States are expected to actively promote the use of ART, especially in
children. However, it has been shown that many EU dentists do not use this technique and are
unaware of the fact that ART presents a number of advantages, not only for use in developing
countries but also in modern clinics. Therefore, the introduction of ART will require dentists to
follow dedicated training sessions. Training costs are expected to be incurred by public
authorities, as part of their activities to encourage a reduction in dental amalgam use. No
additional investment in equipment is required to use ART (there is actually lower dental
equipment maintenance costs).
Overall, the economic impacts for dentists associated with the acquisition of new skills, and
possibly new equipment, are not expected to be significant.
Waste management costs
Even if the use of dental amalgam in the EU decreases significantly, amalgam separators will
continue to be required in dental clinics in the future, due to the time it will take for the amount
of mercury stored in the mouths of EU citizens to be fully eliminated. In addition, amalgam will
probably continue to be used in some non-EU countries, hence there will still be mercury releases
from the teeth of EU immigrants138. It is difficult to estimate the long-term contribution from EU
immigrants to mercury releases under Option 2; it can however be noted that, between 2002 and
2007, the foreign-born population in the EU increased by 1.2%, and in absolute terms this
category of EU residents increased from 7.7% to 8.9% of the total EU population.
It should be noted that the progressive decrease in the silver content of amalgam separators’
sludge, due to lower dental amalgam use, may slightly reduce the intrinsic value of this waste for
waste management companies able to recycle silver (the mercury content of dental waste is too
low to influence the monetary value of dental waste); however, this is not expected to
significantly affect the revenues of dental waste management companies and the dentists’ waste
management costs139.
138
rd
During the 3 Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to prepare the global mercury treaty (INC3), discussions
focused on a global ‘phase-down’ of dental amalgam use (rather than a global ‘phase-out’).
139
According to verbal information from a dental waste management company based in Sweden
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4.2.2.3
Impacts on dental patients
Under Option 2, the substitution of dental amalgam with Hg-free restorations will be
significantly greater than in the baseline scenario. Under this option, measures taken by Member
States to promote Hg-free restoration techniques, including ART, are also expected to reduce
the cost difference between amalgam and composite or glass ionomer restorations. This
decrease in costs would be made possible through:
An increased competition within the dental fillings industry and technological
improvements leading to decreases in material costs
Reduced average durations for carrying out Hg-free restorations due to
improved dentists’ skills, leading to a decrease in the labour costs of dental
treatment
A progressive increase in the use of ART, which costs about half less than the
dental amalgam technique140; ART would be increasingly used in children but
also for permanent teeth restorations, where adequate.
By applying the same methodology as in the baseline scenario, it is estimated that approximately
490 million dental amalgam restorations will be substituted with Hg-free restorations between
2010 and 2025. If the average cost differences between dental amalgam and Hg-free restorations
remained similar in the mid-term – which is a very pessimistic scenario – Option 2 would result in
a cost of EUR 2.5 to 17 billion for EU dental patients between 2010 and 2025 (or EUR 5-34 per
capita), which represents a net cost of between EUR 0.7 and 5 billion (EUR 1-10 per capita) with
regard to the baseline scenario (see Table 7 below). If the cost differences between dental
amalgam and Hg-free restorations decreased by 2% annually, in line with the above
assumptions, Option 2 would result in a cost of EUR 2 to 14 billion for EU dental patients between
2010 and 2025 (or EUR 4-28 per capita), which represents a net cost of between EUR 0.3 and 1.9
billion (EUR 1-4 per capita) with regard to the baseline scenario.
Similar to the baseline scenario, it is assumed that the amounts or fee percentages possibly
reimbursed by national health insurance schemes would remain similar in the future. Additional
treatment costs would therefore be borne by dental patients, except in a few Member States
(e.g. BE) where a higher amount is currently reimbursed in the case of Hg-free restorations
(compared with amalgam restorations).
140
Although ART is currently mainly used in locations with limited infrastructure, it is cost-effective in the modern
dental clinic as well. A recent study of the costs of ART use in clinics concluded that ‘ART is also a cost-effective means
of oral health care within a modern dental clinic; the ART approach can be undertaken at approximately 50% of the capital
costs of conventional restorative dentistry’ (S. Mickenautsch et al. (2009) Comparative cost of ART and conventional
treatment within a dental school clinic, Journal Of Minimum Intervention In Dentistry). Additionally, since ART is not
painful, both the time and cost of administering anaesthetics is eliminated (F. J. T Burke et al. (2005) UK dentists'
attitudes and behaviour towards Atraumatic Restorative Treatment for primary teeth, BRITISH DENTAL JOURNAL
199, 365 – 369)
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Table 7: Additional costs borne by patients under Policy Option 2, for the period 2010-2025
Total number of dental
amalgam restorations
substituted with Hg-free
materials in 2010-2025 (‘000)
Additional costs for patients
in 2010-2025 if no change in
price difference (million
EUR)
Additional costs for patients in
2010-2025 if 2% annual
decrease in price difference
(million EUR)
Austria
8,906 - 15,139
534 - 1,544
437 - 1,263
Czech Republic
40,075 - 68,127
641 - 1,090
524 - 891
Germany
30,168 - 51,285
0 - 1,539
0 - 1,258
Greece*
30,047 - 51,079
331 - 1,359
270 - 1,111
4,084 - 6,942
45 - 185
37 - 151
111,319 - 189,243
0 - 7,002
0 - 5,726
327 - 556
1-5
1-4
Portugal*
6,927 - 11,775
17 - 106
14 - 86
Romania*
57,042 - 96,971
627 - 2,579
513 - 2,109
Slovakia
14,418 - 24,511
0 - 196
0 - 160
Spain*
29,945 - 50,907
72 - 456
59 - 373
Latvia
1,773 - 3,013
0 - 24
0 - 20
8,848 - 15,041
97 - 400
80 - 327
Ireland
5,722 - 9,727
57 - 292
47 - 239
Malta
1,101 - 1,872
0 - 11
0-9
Slovenia*
7,013 - 11,922
77 - 317
63 - 259
357,714 - 608,113
2,510 - 17,093
2,053 - 13,979
MS with cost
differences
Netherlands*
Poland
Luxembourg*
Lithuania*
EU27
* Estimated values. For these MS, the average cost difference is assumed to be equal to the average value for the
group of MS they belong to.
NB: The average restoration costs take into account possible amounts reimbursed by national health insurance
schemes, where they exist.
The projected increase in dental restoration costs for patients is expected to affect the private
health insurance industry in a positive manner, as it will increase the demand for insurance
services covering dental treatment.
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4.2.2.4
Impacts on EU citizens
As Option 2 addresses new and future use of dental amalgam, and not environmental impacts of
historical use of dental mercury, the effect on the costs of solid waste and wastewater treatment
(and therefore on local taxes) will remain limited in the mid-term.
4.2.2.5
Impacts on crematoria
In the long-term, Option 2 will lead to a greater decrease in mercury emissions from crematoria
than what would be expected in the baseline scenario. However, because Option 2 is not
expected to result in a complete phase-out of dental mercury, mercury abatement equipment
will continue to be required in crematoria, either as a legal requirement or as a good practice.
The economic impact of Option 2 on crematoria is therefore expected to be minimal.
4.2.2.6
Impacts on public authorities
Administrative costs of Option 2 for public authorities mainly correspond to strengthened
awareness raising activities towards dentists and dental schools, in order to discourage the use of
dental amalgam and promote the learning and use of Hg-free restoration techniques.
Quantifying the costs of such activities is difficult as they can involve numerous actors and a
variety of initiatives, and no adequate information is currently available. Regarding the actors
involved, the measures taken under Option 2 would most likely involve EU and national health
and environmental authorities, dental associations, NGOs, the media, dental schools, etc. As
regards the specific communication tools which could be used, these could include the creation
of websites, the organisation of conferences and training sessions, the mailing of brochures and
other information material, etc. In order to achieve a significant reduction in the use of dental
amalgam results, the overall administrative costs of such actions can be relatively high.
For example, a cost assessment that was carried out in relation to the ban on mercury-containing
sphygmomanometers141 estimated that the cost for contacting all EU doctors by sending letters
to was between EUR 300,000 to 600,000. This action was targeted at 1.5 million doctors so, if we
consider that the number of EU practicing dentists is approximately 300,000 and that, compared
with doctors, a smaller number can be contacted through hospitals, then it is estimated that a
similar campaign under Option 2 could roughly cost EUR 100,000 to 300,000.
Another type of economic impact that could affect public authorities, as a result of Option 2, is
the additional cost that could be incurred if a large number of patients suddenly decided to have
their amalgam fillings replaced by Hg-free fillings, by fear of health risks associated with dental
amalgam (and not for practical reasons, such as the deterioration of the filling)142. Such a
problem did not occur in Sweden and Norway, where dental amalgam was phased out; however,
141
ECHA (2010) Annex XV REACH Restriction Report concerning mercury in certain measuring devices
(http://echa.europa.eu/documents/10162/13641/annex_xv_restriction_report_mercury_en.pdf)
142
In particular, this point was raised during the stakeholder consultation.
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it could be argued that, in these two countries, the substitution of dental amalgam by Hg-free
materials occurred in a gradual manner, over 10-20 years, until a complete ban was adopted. In
Germany, at present, patients covered by the statutory health insurance must pay for the
replacement of intact amalgam fillings themselves; this is probably the case for public health
insurance schemes in most Member States. As substitution of dental amalgam by Hg-free
materials, in Option 2, is justified on environmental rather than health grounds, the replacement
of intact amalgam fillings would not need to be subsidised by health insurance schemes. Hence,
the main challenge for governments would be to communicate to dentists and the population, in
a very clear manner, the reasons justifying a progressive substitution of dental amalgam (i.e.
environmental pollution) in order to avoid misunderstandings and massive requests for the
replacement of intact fillings. When implementing policy measures corresponding to Option 2,
national health authorities would also need to explain to patients that the removal of intact
amalgam fillings is not recommended (and therefore not reimbursed by public health insurance
schemes).
4.2.3
Option 3
4.2.3.1
Impacts on manufacturers and suppliers of dental fillings
On the one hand, the magnitude of the dental amalgam demand reduction under Option 3 will
put significant pressure on dental fillings manufacturers with a high share of dental amalgam in
their overall production. This pressure will be more significant than under Option 2, due to the
limited time scale to substitute dental amalgam (within 5 years following the decision to submit a
REACH restriction proposal) and the compulsory nature of the policy measure. On the other
hand, companies with a high share of Hg-free materials in their production will gain an even
greater competitive advantage than under Option 2.
Overall, since the present study identified only two main EU companies producing bulk mercury
for dental amalgam (and no Hg-free fillings), the economic impact on the industry is expected to
remain limited.
The positive effect of Option 3 on innovation within the EU dental industry is expected to be
greater than under Option 2, given the limited time scale to fully substitute dental amalgam.
For the reasons explained above, the effects of innovation and increased competition on prices of
Hg-free dental filling materials under Option 3 are expected to be higher than those under
Option 2. It is assumed that the difference in sale price between dental amalgam and Hg-free
materials (composites or glass ionomers) could be reduced by up to 50% on average by 2025.
Under this assumption, the complete substitution of dental amalgam fillings with Hg-free
materials would increase the revenues of the EU dental fillings industry by EUR 2.6 to 5.3 billion
between 2010 and 2025, representing an increase of 14% to 128% with regard to the value
estimated in the baseline scenario.
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4.2.3.2
Impacts on dentists
Acquisition of skills and equipment
On the one hand, in comparison with Option 2, the limited time to achieve a complete phase-out
of dental amalgam as well as the compulsory nature of this measure may put more pressure on
dentists that have no or little experience in carrying out Hg-free restorations, i.e. mainly dentists
practising in Group 3 countries. On the other hand, in the short term, this may generate a
competitive advantage for dentists that are already fully skilled in Hg-free restoration
techniques.
Waste management costs
As in Option 2, the impact of Option 3 on waste management costs for dentists will be limited
due to the time it will take for the amount of mercury stored in the mouths of immigrants from
third countries not having corresponding restrictions.
4.2.3.3
Impacts on dental patients
Under Option 3, the substitution of dental amalgam with Hg-free restorations will be faster than
under Option 2 and will be complete (dental amalgam to be phased out in 2018, i.e. 5 years after
the decision to submit a REACH restriction proposal). Given the currently higher cost of
composite or glass ionomer restorations, Option 3 will tend to incur additional costs for dental
patients, with regard to the baseline scenario. However, this effect is expected to be partly offset
by a decrease in the cost of composite/glass ionomer restorations in the mid-term, for the same
reasons as those explained in Option 2 (see Section 4.2.2.3) but leading to a more significant
decrease in the average cost difference between amalgam and composite restorations than in
Option 2.
By applying the same methodology as in the baseline scenario, it is estimated that approximately
762 million dental amalgam restorations will be substituted with Hg-free restorations between
2010 and 2025. If the average cost differences between dental amalgam and Hg-free restorations
remained similar in the mid-term – which is a very pessimistic scenario – Option 3 would result in
a cost of EUR 3.9 to 27 billion for EU dental patients between 2010 and 2025 (or EUR 8-54 per
capita), which represents a net cost of between EUR 2.2 and 14 billion (EUR 4-30 per capita) with
regard to the baseline scenario (see Table 8 below). If the average cost differences between
dental amalgam and Hg-free restorations decreased by 3% annually (more realistic scenario),
Option 3 would result in a cost of EUR 2.9 to 20 billion for EU dental patients between 2010 and
2025 (or EUR 6-40 per capita), which represents a net cost of between EUR 1.2 and 7.9 billion
(EUR 2-16 per capita) with regard to the baseline scenario.
Similar to the baseline scenario and Option 2, it is assumed that the amounts or fee percentages
possibly reimbursed by national health insurance schemes would remain similar in the future.
Additional treatment costs would therefore be borne by dental patients, except in a few Member
States (e.g. BE) where a higher amount is currently reimbursed in the case of Hg-free
restorations (compared with amalgam restorations).
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Table 8: Additional costs borne by patients under Policy Option 3, for the period 2010-2025
Total number of dental
amalgam restorations
substituted with Hg-free
materials in 2010-2025 (‘000)
Additional costs borne by
EU patients in 2010-2025 if
no change in price
difference (million EUR)
Additional costs borne by EU
patients in 2010-2025 if 3%
annual decrease in price
difference (million EUR)
13,954 - 23,722
837 - 2,420
622 - 1,797
Czech Republic
62,794 - 106,749
1,005 - 1,708
746 - 1,269
Germany
47,270 - 80,359
0 - 2,411
0 - 1,791
Greece*
47,080 - 80,037
518 - 2,129
385 - 1,581
Netherlands*
6,399 - 10,878
70 - 2,89
52 - 215
174,427 - 296,526
0 - 10,971
0 - 8,149
512 - 871
1-8
1-6
Portugal*
10,853 - 18,451
26 - 165
19 - 123
Romania*
89,380 - 151,945
983 - 4,042
730 - 3,002
Slovakia
22,592 - 38,407
0 - 307
0 - 228
Spain*
46,922 - 79,767
113 - 715
84 - 531
Latvia
2,778 - 4,722
0 - 38
0 - 28
Lithuania*
13,864 - 23,569
153 - 627
113 - 466
Ireland
8,966 - 15,241
90 - 457
67 - 340
Malta
1,726 - 2,934
0 - 17
13 - 0
10,989 - 18,681
121 - 497
90 - 369
560,505 - 952,858
3,934 - 26,784
2,922 - 19,893
MS with cost
differences
Austria
Poland
Luxembourg*
Slovenia*
EU27
* Estimated values. For these MS, the average cost difference is assumed to be equal to the average value for the
group of MS they belong to.
NB: The average restoration costs take into account possible amounts reimbursed by national health insurance
schemes, where they exist.
The projected increase in dental restoration costs for patients is expected to affect the private
health insurance industry in a positive manner, as it will increase the demand for insurance
services covering dental treatment.
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Part A - Analysis of impacts
4.2.3.4
Impacts on EU citizens
As Option 3 addresses new and future use of dental amalgam, and not environmental impacts of
historical use of dental mercury, the effect on the costs of solid waste and wastewater treatment
(and therefore on local taxes) will remain limited in the mid-term.
4.2.3.5
Impacts on crematoria
Option 3 will lead to an almost complete cessation of mercury emissions from crematoria.
However, given the lifetime of dental amalgam restorations and the existence of specific
cremation practices in certain Member States (e.g. some cremations occurring several years after
burial in Italy), this positive effect will only be observed in the long-term.
In the mid-term, Option 3 is not expected to reduce significantly mercury abatement costs
incurred by crematoria. In the long-term, the dental amalgam ban will have a positive economic
effect by avoiding the need for installing mercury abatement devices in new EU crematoria or
operating the systems already in place (only small quantities of dental amalgam would still be
used within the EU or could be found in the teeth of EU immigrants).
4.2.3.6
Impacts on public authorities
In the present study, it is assumed that the ban would be implemented by adding mercury use in
dentistry to the list of restrictions in Annex XVII of the REACH Regulation, thus Option 3 will
involve enforcing an additional restriction contained in REACH.
Currently there is no evidence that would allow a quantitative assessment of such administrative
costs. The experience from Sweden cannot be considered as representative of the EU27, since
before the ban on mercury came into force in 2009 there were other initiatives to discourage the
use of dental amalgam. These included a voluntary agreement between the government and the
country councils to phase out the use of amalgam in children and young people (adopted in 1995)
and a decision to stop the reimbursement of amalgam restorations by the national health
insurance scheme (came into force in 1999).
However, since this policy option would not require any transposition of legal provisions by the
Member States and given that each Member State already has dedicated staff in charge of the
enforcement of the REACH Regulation, a future ban on dental mercury use is not expected to
increase the administrative burden of public authorities in a significant manner.
Similar to Option 2, another type of economic impact that could affect public authorities as a
result of Option 3 is the additional cost which could be incurred if a large number of patients
suddenly decided to have their amalgam fillings replaced by Hg-free fillings. As explained in
Section 4.2.2.5, this risk can be prevented and mitigated by clear and complete information from
national health authorities on why the ban is adopted (i.e. environmental concerns) and why the
replacement of intact amalgam fillings is not reimbursed by existing national health insurance
schemes.
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4.3
4.3.1
Social impacts
Option 1
Employment
It can be expected that the requirement for adequate treatment of dental amalgam waste would
have a positive impact in terms of job creation in companies that are involved in the
manufacturing, installation and maintenance of amalgam separators as well as in companies
specialising in the collection and treatment of mercury-containing waste. Many of these
companies are based in the EU, although part of the amalgam separators may be manufactured
outside the EU. It is difficult to estimate the number of jobs which may be created in the absence
of information on the current level of employment in these companies. However, at a larger
scale, it is recognised that better implementation of EU waste legislation would have a positive
impact on EU employment: a recent study for the European Commission estimated that full
implementation of EU waste legislation would increase the annual turnover of the EU waste
management sector and recycling sector by EUR 42 billion and create over 400,000 jobs by
2020143.
Occupational health and safety of dental personnel
Option 1 is not expected to affect occupational health and safety, as it will not induce a decrease
in mercury vapours from dental amalgam handling.
Public health and safety
Option 1 will significantly reduce mercury releases to urban WWTPs, resulting in avoided mercury
releases to the different environmental media, mainly depending on the fate of mercury in
sewage sludge. In 2015, it is roughly estimated that avoided air emissions of mercury under
Option 1 will be of approximately 7 t Hg/year (see Section 4.1.1). Considering health damage
costs related to IQ loss of between EUR 5,000 to 20,000 per kg Hg emitted to air (see Section
2.6.4.3), this policy option would result in avoided health damage costs in the range of EUR 35 to
140 million per year in 2015. This should be considered as a minimum range, given that it does
not consider possible impacts via ingestion and other types of health damages related to mercury
exposure (e.g. impacts on nervous or cardiovascular systems).
4.3.2
Option 2
Employment
The impact of the measures taken by Member States under Option 2 is expected to be positive
with regard to employment. Jobs may first be created in relation to awareness raising activities
to be launched by the Member States, although these jobs may be created only for a short period
of time. Jobs may also be created to train dentists in Hg-free restoration techniques, including
143
BIO Intelligence Service, Ecologic Institute and Umweltbundesamt (2011) Implementing EU waste legislation for
green growth (http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/studies/pdf/study%2012%20FINAL%20REPORT.pdf)
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 99
Part A - Analysis of impacts
the ART which is not yet wide spread in the EU. Finally, because Option 2 is expected to foster
innovation in Hg-free filling materials (see Section 4.2.2.1), this may also generate new
employment opportunities in R&D activities of the dental industry.
Occupational health and safety of dental personnel
The expected decrease in dental amalgam use under Option 2 will reduce the volume of mercury
vapours that may be inhaled by dental personnel, thereby reducing the health risks for these
workers. However, as long as mercury is present in old fillings, dental personnel will continue to
be exposed to mercury vapours from dental effluents and from solid mercury-containing waste if
there are no adequate protection measures in place.
According to Swedish authorities, just after the introduction of the dental amalgam ban in
Sweden, there were several cases of allergic reactions to Hg-free materials in dental staff, but
these occurred due to a lack of information on the handling of the materials from the suppliers;
reportedly, this is no longer an issue in Sweden144. An increase in allergic reactions in the hands of
dental staff were also reported in Norway, following adoption of the dental amalgam ban;
however the number of reported adverse impacts from the use of resin-based fillings has not
increased to the same degree as the increase in the use of these materials145. It should also be
noted that allergic reactions due to the handling of dental amalgam have also been observed (see
the literature review in Annex D).
Health and safety of EU citizens
As already mentioned in the baseline scenario (see Section 2.6.4.3), a significant co-benefit of
substituting amalgam by Hg-free filling materials such as resin-based composites or glass
ionomers is the ability to preserve more healthy tooth structure in patients, as these alternative
materials have good adhesive properties.
Possible health risks due to the release of small quantities of endocrine disrupting substances
such as BPA can easily be avoided by the use of BPA-free composite materials which are now
widely available on the market (see Table 6).
The possible deterioration of dental health in disadvantaged communities, due to higher
treatment costs if more expensive restoration techniques are used, has been raised as an
important issue by the Council of European Dentists (CED). The CED reports that, while rates of
dental decay are falling in developed countries, approximately 80% of oral diseases can be found
in 20% of the population, usually the disadvantaged communities146. However, the Swedish
experience with the phase-out of dental amalgam shows that no adverse clinical effects have
been observed in the Swedish population following adoption of the ban (note that the first
recommendations from Swedish public authorities to decrease dental amalgam use were made
in the 1970s)144. In fact, the possible adverse public health effects due to reduced affordability of
dental treatment depend very much on the public health policy of the Member State, i.e.
144
Information provided by Swedish authorities as part of the stakeholder consultation for this study
145
Vista Analysis (2012) Review of Norwegian experiences with the phase-out of dental amalgam use
(http://www.klif.no/publikasjoner/2946/ta2946.pdf)
146
Information provided during the stakeholder consultation
100 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Part A - Analysis of impacts
whether there are effective dental decay prevention programmes in place and whether dental
care is subsidised for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged categories of the population.
Therefore, this issue goes somewhat beyond the debate on dental amalgam.
It is also important that possible adverse health effects due to reduced affordability of dental
treatment for disadvantaged citizens, and public spending to ensure affordability of dental care,
are put in perspective with the currently high environmental and indirect health impacts and
costs of mercury pollution caused by dental amalgam use, and the benefits associated with a
reduction of these impacts for the society at large. Option 2 would indeed reduce quantities of
dental amalgam entering the market. In 2025, it would avoid the use of approximately 15 t
Hg/year (see Section 4.1.2) and the emissions of approximately 0.4 t Hg/year to the air.
Considering health damage costs related to IQ loss of between EUR 5,000 to 20,000 per kg Hg
emitted to air (see Section 2.6.4.3), this policy option would result in avoided health damage
costs in the range of EUR 2 to 8 million per year in 2025. This should be considered as a minimum
range, given that it does not consider possible impacts via ingestion and other types of health
damages related to mercury exposure (e.g. impacts on nervous or cardiovascular systems).
4.3.3
Option 3
Employment
Under this policy option, it is expected that new jobs would be created in relation to the training
of dentists, some of which will need to improve their skills or acquire new skills in Hg-free
restoration techniques within a short timeframe.
It is also expected that new jobs would be created to support R&D activities in the dental fillings
industry, due to the need for companies to maintain a high level of innovation in Hg-free
materials.
Occupational health and safety of dental personnel
The ban on dental amalgam use will significantly reduce mercury-related health risks for dental
personnel. Dental personnel may still be exposed to mercury vapours from dental effluents and
from solid mercury-containing waste, if no adequate protection measures are in place, but this
exposure will become negligible 10 to 15 years after the ban becomes applicable (10-15 years is
the average lifetime of amalgam restorations).
Health and safety of EU citizens
The same types of impacts as those described for Option 2 are expected (see Section 4.3.2), but
the magnitude of these impacts will be greater in the case of a dental amalgam phase-out.
With regard to potentially avoided indirect health damages in Option 3, at the time the ban
becomes applicable (i.e. 2018), it is estimated that mercury releases to the environment would be
reduced by approximately 5 t Hg/year with regard to the baseline scenario, including a reduction
of approximately 3 t Hg/year to the air. Considering health damage costs related to IQ loss of
between EUR 5,000 to 20,000 per kg Hg emitted to air (see Section 2.6.4.3 ), this policy option
would result in avoided health damage costs in the range of EUR 15 to 60 million/year in 2018.
This should be considered as a minimum range, given that it does not consider possible impacts
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Part A - Analysis of impacts
via ingestion and other types of health damages related to mercury exposure (e.g. impacts on
nervous or cardiovascular systems). These benefits are expected to gradually increase in the
years following the adoption of the ban, as less and less EU citizens would have amalgam fillings
in their mouths and therefore less and less mercury would be released from old fillings.
4.4
Other impacts
Because mercury pollution is a global issue, it is important to note that environmental and public
health and safety benefits of Options 1, 2 and Option 3 are likely to extend outside the EU
territory.
Furthermore, the adoption of a ban on mercury use in dentistry in the EU, under Option 3, may
trigger the adoption of similar bans in some non-EU countries, especially given the context of
ongoing international negotiations to adopt a legally binding instrument on mercury and given
the fact that dental amalgam is among the main mercury uses worldwide.
102 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Part A - Comparison of options and conclusions
Chapter 5:
Comparison of options and conclusions
A
comparison of the different policy options analysed, based on their respective
environmental and socio-economic impacts, is presented in this chapter. Policy options
are compared with regard to their potential for achieving the objectives previously set
out with a minimum of undesirable side effects, taking into account effectiveness, efficiency and
coherence criteria.
5.1
Comparison of policy options
Environmental and socio-economic impacts of the policy options are closely related to the
projected trends for dental amalgam use in the EU, over the next 15 years. A comparison of the
different projections developed in this study, for the different policy options, is presented in
Figure 10 below. As explained previously, the assumptions used to develop these projections are
based on the limited information currently available concerning the expected decline of dental
amalgam demand in the EU and they carry some uncertainty.
Figure 10: Projected annual demand for dental mercury in the EU (t Hg)
Policy Option 3:
Decision to prepare
a REACH restriction
proposal
80
Policy Option 3:
Adoption of the
dental amalgam
ban
Policy Option 3:
The dental
amalgam ban
becomes applicable
70
60
50
40
Policy Option 2:
A Recommendation is
issued to the Member
States by the EC
30
20
10
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
Baseline scenario and Option 1
2015
2016
2017
Option 2
2018
2019 2020
2021 2022
2023
2024
2025
Option 3
While the baseline scenario assumes a gradual decrease in dental amalgam demand over the
next 15 years (approximately –5% demand per year) until a threshold of about 35 t Hg/year to be
reached in 2025, Option 3 would result in a sharp decrease (approximately 20% annually) of
dental amalgam demand from 2013 (i.e. the year when the decision to prepare a REACH
restriction proposal is made) to reach zero demand in 2018 once the ban becomes applicable (in
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 103
Part A - Comparison of options and conclusions
fact, very small amounts could still be used after 2018, in accordance with the allowed
exemptions, but these are considered to be negligible). Option 2, as an intermediate option
between the ‘no policy change’ and Option 3, would result in a more rapid decline in dental
amalgam demand than in the baseline scenario (approximately –9% demand per year) until a
threshold of about 19 t Hg/year to be reached in 2025.
The analysis of economic impacts revealed that another important indicator is the incremental
cost of switching to Hg-free filling materials (composite resins or glass ionomers) for EU dental
patients. The projected evolution of such costs is shown in Figure 8 below. These projections take
into account a progressive decrease in the price difference between amalgam and
composite/glass ionomer restorations, which was identified as the most realistic scenario. The
graph shows that, in all policy options, the annual costs would increase (due to higher numbers of
Hg-free restorations); however, this increase would progressively slow down in the baseline
scenario and Option 2 (due to the decreasing price difference between amalgam and Hg-free
restorations). The annual costs tend to converge towards the end of the time period considered
(2025).
Figure 11: Annual costs borne by EU dental patients due to the substitution of dental
amalgam according to different policy options (million EUR)
1400
Policy Option 3:
Decision to prepare
a REACH restriction
proposal
1200
1000
Policy Option 3:
Adoption of the
dental amalgam
ban
Policy Option 3:
The dental
amalgam ban
becomes applicable
Policy Option 2:
A Recommendation
is issued to the
Member States by
the EC
800
600
400
200
0
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
Baseline scenario and Option 1
2019
2020
Option 2
2021
2022
2023
2024
2025
Option 3
Key assumptions – Figure 11:
These costs correspond to the average costs actually borne by the patients going to dental practitioners having an
agreement with the public sector, i.e. taking into account the amounts possibly reimbursed by national health
insurance schemes. They correspond to average restoration costs, considering the different types of restorations
which may be performed (front teeth/rear teeth; 1, 2 or 3 surfaces; etc.).
Baseline scenario and Option 1: Assumes a slow substitution of dental amalgam restorations with Hg-free methods
as presented in Table 2, and a 1% annual decrease in the price difference between amalgam and composite
restorations.
Policy option 2: Assumes a progressive substitution of dental amalgam restorations with Hg-free methods as
presented in Section 4.1.2, and a 2% annual decrease in the price difference between amalgam and composite
restorations.
Policy option 3: Assumes a quick substitution of dental amalgam restorations with Hg-free methods, leading to
almost zero dental amalgam restorations from 2018, and a 3% annual decrease in the price difference between
amalgam and composite restorations.
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Part A - Comparison of options and conclusions
A comparison of the four policy options, based on the key impacts or impact indicators analysed
in this study, is presented in Table 9 below. The comparison of impacts is presented over a 15year horizon (2010-2025), unless otherwise specified. The legend used is as follows:
Legend – Table 8 :
≈ Expected to remain similar over the time horizon considered
↘ or ↗: Slight decrease or slight increase expected over the time horizon considered
↘↘ or ↗↗: Significant decrease or significant increase expected over the time horizon considered
↘↘↘ or ↗↗↗: Very significant decrease or very significant increase expected over the time horizon
considered
?: Uncertain trend
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Part A - Comparison of options and conclusions
Table 9: Overview of key impacts associated with the policy options analysed, over a 15-year horizon (2010-2025)
Option 1
Option 2
(baseline scenario)
Improve enforcement of EU waste
legislation in dental practices
Encourage MS to take national measures
to reduce dental amalgam use
Ban the use of Hg in dentistry
↘
↘
↘↘
↘↘↘ (reaching zero in 2018)
Quantities of dental amalgam
waste produced
↘
↘
↘↘
↘↘↘
% of dental amalgam waste treated
as hazardous waste
≈
↗↗↗
≈
≈
Dental Hg emissions to air
↘
↘↘
↘ (within 15 years) to ↘↘ (within several
decades)
↘↘ (within 15 years) to ↘↘↘ (within
several decades)
Dental Hg emissions to water
↘
↘↘
↘ (within 15 years) to ↘↘ (within several
decades)
↘↘ (within 15 years) to ↘↘↘ (within
several decades)
Dental Hg emissions to soil and
groundwater
↘
↘↘
↘ (within 15 years) to ↘↘ (within several
decades)
↘↘ (within 15 years) to ↘↘↘ (within
several decades)
↘ (within several decades)
↘↘ (within several decades)
↘↘ (within several decades)
↘↘↘ (within several decades)
≈ or ↗
≈ or ↗
↗ or ↗↗
↗ or ↗↗
Competitiveness of EU dental
fillings industry
≈
≈
↗
↗↗
Level of innovation in dental filling
materials
≈
≈
↗
↗↗
Key impact indicators
EU demand for dental amalgam
‘No policy change’
Option 3
Environmental impact indicators
Dental Hg accumulated in fish (in
the form of methylmercury)
Economic impact indicators
Revenues of dental fillings industry
106 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Part A - Comparison of options and conclusions
Option 1
Option 2
(baseline scenario)
Improve enforcement of EU waste
legislation in dental practices
Encourage MS to take national measures
to reduce dental amalgam use
Ban the use of Hg in dentistry
Costs borne by dentists for
amalgam waste management*
↗
↗↗
↘ (within several decades)
↘↘ (within several decades)
Costs borne by patients for dental
restoration
↗
↗
↗ or ↗↗
↗ or ↗↗
Costs borne by EU citizens through
local taxes (Hg pollution
abatement)
≈
↘↘
↘
↘↘
Hg abatement costs for crematoria
↗
↗
↗
↘ (within several decades)
Administrative costs for public
authorities
≈
↗
↗↗
↗
Jobs in EU dental fillings industry
≈
≈
≈
≈
Occupational health risks for dental
personnel
↘
↘
↘↘
↘↘↘
Public health risks due to indirect
Hg exposure from dental amalgam
↘
↘↘
↘↘
↘↘↘
Public health risks due to direct Hg
exposure from dental amalgam
?
?
?
?
Public health risks due to exposure
to composite resins**
≈ (?)
≈ (?)
≈ (?)
≈ (?)
Key impact indicators
‘No policy change’
Option 3
Social impact indicators
* In fact, costs of Option 1 should have been incurred at an earlier stage if EU waste legislation had been complied with
** In relation to the possible release of endocrine disrupting substances such as BPA
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Part A - Comparison of options and conclusions
5.2
Conclusions
The most effective way to reach the policy objective, i.e. reducing the environmental impacts of
dental amalgam use, would be a combination of Options 1 and 3. While Option 1 tackles
environmental impacts from both historical and current dental amalgam use, it focuses on
releases from dental practices and is not sufficient in itself to address the whole range of mercury
releases from the dental amalgam life cycle (it does not address mercury releases from the
natural deterioration of amalgam fillings in people’s mouths, from cremation and burial, and
residual emissions to urban WWTPs). Option 3 would allow a significant reduction of dental
mercury releases within the next 15 years and would virtually eliminate the environmental
impacts of dental mercury in the longer term. However, because the cessation of mercury
releases, under Option 3, would only be significant after about 15 years, Option 3 needs to be
coupled with Option 1 in order to reduce mercury releases from historical use of amalgam in the
short term.
Option 2 leaves more flexibility to Member States to implement national measures aimed at
reducing dental amalgam use, which would allow them to take into account national specificities
(e.g. current level of oral health, cost aspects, specificities of national health insurance schemes);
however, the effectiveness of this option is subject to high uncertainty since there would be no
binding targets to achieve. In order for this option to be effective in reducing environmental
impacts, the administrative costs incurred by public authorities may be higher than in the case of
Option 3 (significant awareness raising required in some Member States in order to induce a
change in practices).
The ‘no policy change’ option cannot achieve a significant reduction of mercury pollution from
dental amalgam. Even if the progressive substitution of dental amalgam with Hg-free materials is
expected to continue in future years, a complete phase-out of dental amalgam use is very
unlikely to happen for the reasons explained in the previous chapters. In this regard, it is
interesting to note that, in Sweden, dentists’ organisations and the National Board of Health and
Welfare initially claimed that no legislative measures were needed to reduce amalgam use
because it would vanish by itself; however, this did not happen after more than a decade, hence
the decision of the authorities to introduce a ban. Following implementation of the ban, the use
of dental amalgam was rapidly phased out without any problems.
The preferred combination of options is therefore Option 1 + Option 3. It would achieve the
highest effectiveness, while the associated costs are considered to be reasonable for the various
stakeholders especially as they are considered to be outweighed by the associated
environmental and health benefits. The cost efficiency of Option 3 improves with: the
improvement of dentists’ skills in Hg-free restoration techniques (resulting in reduced placement
durations and therefore reduced labour costs); a gradual decrease in the price of Hg-free filling
materials thanks to continuous innovation and increased competitiveness within this industry
sector; good awareness of EU citizens on the fact that amalgam fillings in good condition do not
require substitution (national health authorities will have to implement clear communication on
this point); and the active promotion of cheaper Hg-free restoration techniques such as ART,
where adequate (especially in children). Another aspect to ensure the success of Option 3 is to
108 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Part A - Comparison of options and conclusions
take measures to avoid the presence of BPA and other known endocrine disruptors in composite
resins, knowing that BPA-free filling materials are already available on the market. Implementing
Option 1 should be relatively feasible from a political point of view as it is about enforcing
existing legal requirements (rather than creating new requirements) and it is the logical follow-up
of Action 4 of the EU Mercury Strategy (‘The Commission will review in 2005 Member States’
implementation of Community requirements on the treatment of dental amalgam waste, and will
take appropriate steps thereafter to ensure correct application’). The implementation of Option 3
may be more challenging, not because of the actual costs of the changes required, but due to the
changes in professional habits that need to occur among dentists, especially in some Member
States, and the time required for all EU dentists to be well skilled at performing Hg-free
restorations. The implementation of Option 3 can also be considered as a logical follow-up of
Action 8 of the EU Mercury Strategy (‘The Commission will further study in the short term the few
remaining products and applications in the EU that use small amounts of mercury. In the medium to
longer term, any remaining uses may be subject to authorisation and consideration of substitution
under the proposed REACH Regulation, once adopted’) and seems necessary to achieve mercuryrelated requirements of EU legislation on water quality.
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Part A - Comparison of options and conclusions
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110 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Part B
PART B: Assessment of policy options to
reduce environmental impacts from
mercury-containing batteries
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112 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Part B – Problem definition and objectives
Chapter 6:
Problem definition and objectives
T
his chapter describes the issues associated with mercury-containing batteries, the main
drivers for these problems and the key actors affected. It also describes the current policy
context, the current situation with regard to environmental and socio-economic aspects
of the problem as well as the likely evolution of the problems in the absence of any further EU
policy action. The reasons justifying public intervention at EU level are explained, taking into
account subsidiarity and proportionality principles. Finally, the objectives of future policy action
to address the issue of mercury-containing batteries are defined, in line with the problems and
drivers identified.
6.1
Introduction
Button cells147 are small, thin energy cells that are commonly used in watches, hearing aids, and
other electronic devices. Due to their miniature size, the button cells have to pack a lot of power
in a small space and are therefore very widely used as a source of electric power for the
integrated circuits of electronic apparatus. In the early 1980s, battery manufacturers began to
decrease the amount of gases and impurities within these types of energy sources by refining the
zinc content. Battery manufacturers have used small amounts of mercury to suppress the
formation of internal gasses that affect all batteries containing zinc electrodes (gassing can lead
to leakage, possible rupture and/or short shelf life of batteries). Until a few years ago, the battery
industry had developed alternative product designs that eliminated added mercury in all
batteries except button cells; however Hg-free versions of button cells have become available on
the market in recent years.
The environmental impacts associated with the presence of mercury in batteries are mainly
resulting from inadequate management of used batteries: only a limited proportion of waste
batteries are currently separately collected in the EU, of which only a certain percentage can
effectively be recycled. A significant proportion of Hg-containing batteries end up in incineration
plants or landfills for non-hazardous waste (if mixed with household waste).
147
Please note that in this report ‘button cells’ refers to ‘button cell batteries’
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 113
Part B – Problem definition and objectives
6.2
Policy context
6.2.1
EU policy context
Mercury-containing batteries are classified as hazardous waste by Commission Decision
2000/532/EC. The use of mercury in batteries is already restricted by the Batteries Directive
(2006/66/EC), however mercury content restrictions for button cells are much less stringent than
for other types of batteries: the Directive prohibits the placing on the market of all batteries and
accumulators containing more than 0.0005% Hg by weight, with the exception of button cells
that are allowed up to a Hg content of 2% by weight. The Directive also imposes specific
collection and recycling targets for waste batteries and requires that battery’s packaging be
labelled for the presence of mercury. The collection target is set at 25% by 2012, increasing to
45% by 2016. Minimum recycling efficiency targets vary between 50% and 75% depending on the
battery types. When no viable end market for those metals is available, Member States are
allowed to dispose of collected portable batteries or accumulators containing cadmium, mercury
or lead in landfills or underground storage. These provisions are duplicated in the REACH
Regulation (EC/1907/2006)148.
The Environment Council, in its Council Conclusions of March 2011, invited the Commission to
‘extend its investigation to mercury-containing button cell batteries that are still allowed on the EU
market, and to assess the need for further risk management measures’.
The Commission has reviewed in depth the Batteries Directive exemption clause regarding
cadmium as required by the Directive, and has proposed a Directive repealing this exemption.
This is not to be confused with the fully-fledged review of the Directive that will take place at a
later stage, in 2016, when the Commission will have received Member States’ implementation
reports. This wider review will include an evaluation of the appropriateness of further risk
management measures for batteries containing heavy metals.
The present study on mercury in button cells aims primarily at gathering information on the
current market situation, notably in view of the international negotiations on a global legally
binding instrument on mercury that is likely to address the use of mercury in batteries (see
Section 1.3). The information gathered through this study will also feed in the future policy and
legislative reviews that the Commission will undertake (as stated in the 2010 Communication on
the review of the Mercury Strategy33, the mercury policy will be revisited after the conclusion of
the Multilateral Environmental Agreement; the Batteries Directive will be reviewed in 2016).
148
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2006:396:0001:0849:EN:PDF
114 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Part B – Problem definition and objectives
6.2.2
International policy context
In addition to the global mercury treaty under preparation, which is likely to address the use of
mercury in batteries (see Section 1.3), some initiatives to further restrict mercury use in button
cell batteries are taking place in the USA and in China.
Three US States (Maine, Connecticut and Rhode Island) have enacted legislations to ban the sale
of mercury-containing button cell batteries from mid-2011 (with an exemption for low sales
volume silver oxide button cells until 1 January 2015 in the State of Maine, for economic reasons).
In addition, all US battery manufacturers have voluntarily committed to eliminating mercury in
button cell batteries sold in the USA from 2011.
China, one of the main countries producing alkaline button cells, issued ‘Clean Production
Guidelines’ for the battery sector in December 2011. These guidelines recommend that
companies should actively promote the production of Hg-free alkaline button cells.
6.3
Problem definition
6.3.1
The mercury problem
The mercury problem has been briefly described in the introduction to this report (Section 1.1).
Further details can be found in the EU Mercury Strategy32 or in the UNEP Global Mercury
Assessment149.
The fundamental problem in the current situation is that certain population groups – and
especially women of child-bearing age and children – are subject to unacceptable levels of
exposure to mercury, principally in the form of methylmercury through diet. This presents a risk
of negative impacts on health, in particular affecting the nervous system and diminishing
intellectual capacity. There are also environmental risks, for example the disturbance of
microbiological activity in soils and harm to wildlife populations. According to calculations based
on the critical load concept (mainly based on ecotoxicological effects and human health effects
via ecosystems), more than 70% of the European ecosystem area is estimated to be at risk today
due to mercury levels, with critical loads for mercury exceeded in large parts of western, central
and southern Europe150.
Mercury releases from mercury-containing products and processes contribute significantly to
overall mercury releases from anthropogenic activities in the EU. The production of button cells
is one of the remaining uses of mercury in the EU.
149
UNEP (2002) Global Mercury Assessment Report
150
Hettelingh, J.P. et al. (2006). Heavy Metal Emissions, Depositions, Critical Loads and Exceedences in Europe.
VROM-DGM report, www.mnp.nl/cce, 93 pp.; CEE Status Reports 2008 (Chapter 7,
www.rivm.nl/thema/images/CCE08_Chapter_7_tcm61-41910.pdf) and 2010 (Chapter 8,
www.rivm.nl/thema/images/SR2010_Ch8_tcm61-49679.pdf)
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 115
Part B – Problem definition and objectives
6.3.2
Specific issues related to mercury-containing button
cell batteries
Mercury-containing button-cells are a source of mercury pollution mainly because of inadequate
waste management at their end of life (i.e. battery waste not managed as hazardous waste).
Non-hazardous waste treatment methods are not designed for battery waste; in the case of
mercury-containing button cell waste, non-hazardous waste treatment methods have the
potential to release mercury to air, water and soil. This mercury can then become bioavailable
and accumulate in biota, leading to environmental and human health risks.
Increasing separate collection rates of batteries is a challenging task. Little data is currently
reported by the Member States’ compliance organisations on the collection of waste button cells.
However, in 2009, the European Battery Recycling Association (EBRA) reported that 174 tonnes
of button cells waste (most of which originated from the EU) was separately collected and
recycled in EU151 (quantities collected correspond to 12% collection rate calculated as per the
guidance provided in Batteries Directive152). In other words, in 2009 approximately 88% of button
cells waste escaped separate waste collection schemes and ended up with mixed non-hazardous
waste. This represents approximately 3.4 tonnes of mercury153.
The Batteries Directive154 sets the following minimum collection rates for portable batteries and
accumulators (including button cells): 25% by September 2012 and 45% by September 2016. In
fact, a high level of collection is unlikely to be achieved in the short-term at EU level. Thus, even a
strong enforcement of the Batteries Directive would not be sufficient to solve the problem of
mercury pollution due to inadequate management of button cell waste.
The problem can be solved by substituting Hg-containing button cells by Hg-free alternatives.
EPBA commented that approximately 39% of all the button cells placed by their member
companies on the EU market in 2010 were Hg-free button cells. According to the stakeholders155
(button cells manufacturers/importers/distributors) consulted in the present study, Hg-free
versions are now commercially available for all applications of the four main types of button cells
(Lithium, Silver oxide, Alkaline and Zinc-air) in EU. A majority of the stakeholders (5 out of 6
respondents to a questionnaire survey) confirmed that the performance parameters such as self151
Source: EBRA, October 2010. EBRA member companies recycled 89% of overall EU button cells waste recycled in
2009.
152
The Batteries Directive (2006/66/EC) defines collection rate for a given Member State in a given calendar year, as
the percentage obtained by dividing the weight of waste portable batteries and accumulators collected in accordance
with Article 8(1) of this Directive or with Directive 2002/96/EC in that calendar year by the average weight of portable
batteries and accumulators that producers either sell directly to end-users or deliver to third parties in order to sell
them to end-users in that Member State during that calendar year and the preceding two calendar years.
153
This estimate is calculated based on the assumption that the share of different button cells types in the collected
waste is the same as the respective market shares of these batteries in EU in 2009 (i.e. 8% alkaline, 12% silver-oxide,
46% lithium and 34% zinc-air button cells). Using the average Hg content for each type of button cell in 2009 (0.45% in
alkaline, 0.5% in silver oxide, 1% in zinc-air). In addition to the Hg-containing button cells types, the waste stream is
likely to contain old mercury-oxide button cells (now prohibited) with higher levels of mercury, and also around 39%
Hg-free button cells (based on the market share of Hg-free button cells placed on the EU market by EPBA members).
154
Directive 2006/66/EC
155
See Annex A for further explanations
116 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Part B – Problem definition and objectives
discharge, leak resistance, capacity and pulse capability of Hg-free button cells are the same for
all application areas as compared to traditional Hg-containing button cells. The Hg-free
alternatives also have a similar shelf-life as compared to the Hg-containing button cells. Costs of
Hg-free alternatives are currently slightly higher (approximately 10%) than Hg-containing
versions, however with a higher share of Hg-free button cells placed on the market, the extra cost
of these button cells will tend to be offset.
Several factors, including market and regulatory failures have led to the current examination of
the use of mercury in button cells in EU.
Market failures
In the case of Hg-containing button cells, negative environmental and health externalities exist,
which has created market failure, one of the underlying drivers of the problem. In the current
situation, Hg-containing button cells are cheaper (by around 10%) than the Hg-free button cells.
If not adequately controlled, the production, consumption and especially the end-of-life
management of Hg-containing button cells may cause adverse environmental effects (mercury is
particularly toxic for aquatic environments and organisms) and can create severe health
problems in humans, e.g. affecting the nervous system and diminishing intellectual capacity.
These negative externalities are not included in the prices paid by retailers and end users.
Asymmetrical and incomplete information
In 2003, the Commission published the ‘Impact assessment on selected policy options for revision
of the Batteries Directive’ stating that Hg-containing batteries are no longer a significant concern
following the implementation of Directive 98/101/EC156. However, no viable substitutes for Hgcontaining button cells appeared to be available at the time of drafting that report and the issue
of mercury in button cells was not specifically addressed by this impact assessment.
Many stakeholders consider this situation is not acceptable, as new evidence has surfaced since
the publication of the 2003 report indicating that today Hg-free button cells exist for all
applications and reportedly have technical performances that are equivalent to Hg-containing
button cells157. Therefore, the present study examines the availability of commercially viable Hgfree button cells and the environmental justification for a restriction on the placing of Hgcontaining button cells in the EU market, before assessing economic and social impacts.
156
Directive 98/101/EC was repealed by the Directive 2006/66/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6
September 2006 on batteries and accumulators and waste batteries and accumulators
157
During the stakeholder consultation, some Member States expressed some doubt on the commercial availability of
Hg-free button cells for certain applications, in particular for medical devices such as in insulin pumps. One
manufacturer involved in the production of such batteries (Renata), however, confirmed the availability of Hg-free
alternatives for all applications of button cells including for insulin pumps.
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 117
Part B – Problem definition and objectives
6.4
Who is affected?
Mercury releases from the life cycle of button cell batteries contribute to the overall mercury
pollution. All individuals are exposed to mercury pollution to some degree. However, some
groups are particularly vulnerable to the health effects of mercury pollution:
High-level fish consumers; for example, EU populations living in coastal areas
are more likely to be exposed to higher levels of methylmercury;
Children (in particular, due to the increased vulnerability of their developing
nervous system);
Women of childbearing age (due to the increased vulnerability of the foetus).
Mercury pollution may also negatively affect some activity sectors such as the fishing industry, if
levels of methylmercury affect the marketability of fish or consumer confidence.
Other key actors likely to be affected include:
Companies involved in the production and sale of button cell batteries or
products containing button cell batteries – Due to the revenue they get from
their activities, and the associated jobs.
Consumers – Due to possible price differences between Hg-containing and Hgfree versions of button cells.
Companies involved in the recycling of button cell batteries – Due to the revenue
they get from their activities, and the associated jobs.
Member State authorities – Due to the administrative burden associated with
the enforcement of battery-related legislation.
People handling button cell waste in third countries – Due to possible exposure
to mercury in the case of inadequate treatment of battery waste or waste
products containing batteries exported from the EU.
6.5
Baseline scenario
As per the import, export and production statistics reported by PRODCOM, the majority of the
button cells placed on the EU market from 2004 until 2007 were manufactured locally (see
Annex G). Many data points reported in PRODCOM are unknown, estimated, confidential and
therefore not available. The limited level of precision, availability of data for recent years (last
reported statistics correspond to 2007) and overall reliability of PRODCOM data render their use
questionable for this study. Due to these reasons, it was necessary to investigate other sources of
market and economic data. This information collected via stakeholder’s feedback to a
questionnaire and literature review.
118 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Part B – Problem definition and objectives
The European Portable Battery Association (EPBA)158 reported that its member companies
placed 486.6 million button cells units on the EU market in 2010159. EPBA further commented
that 39% of all the button cells placed by their member companies on the EU market in 2010
were Hg-free button cells. Germany is the largest market in EU representing 24% of EPBA
members’ overall button cells sales in EU. Germany, United Kingdom, France, Spain, Italy and
Netherlands together represent 80% of EPBA members’ button cells market in EU.
EPBA remarked that currently there are many unknown factors which make it very difficult to
estimate the overall market of button cells placed on the EU market160. An estimate is only
available for Germany, where EPBA estimates that their member companies represent around
45% of the overall national button cell market161. For this study, in the absence of further
information, it is assumed that, at the EU level, the market share of button cells represented by
EPBA member companies is similar to their share of the German button cells market, i.e. 45%.
Additionally, it is also assumed that, at the EU level, the market share of Hg-free alternatives is
39% (similar to the share of EPBA member companies). Therefore, it can be estimated that the
total button cells market in EU in 2010 was around 1,080 million button cell units162 and that Hgfree alternatives constituted around 421 million units to the overall EU button cell market in
2010.
How will the problem evolve, if no further policy action is taken?
The button cell market in EU is already experiencing a shift towards Hg-free button cells
(currently around 39% of the overall button cell market) which is expected to continue in the
coming years, driven by recent developments in the USA and environmental responsibility
policies of the manufacturers; however, it is not known how fast a complete phase-out of
mercury would occur163. With a higher share of Hg-free button cells placed on the market, the
extra cost of these button cells will tend to be offset.
158
EPBA is the leading organisation representing the interests of primary and rechargeable portable battery
manufacturers, those industries using portable batteries in their products and distributors of portable batteries active
within the European Union, and beyond.
159
The latest (year 2010) aggregated button cells sales data of the EPBA member companies by the 27 EU Member
States is provided in Annex A.
160
EPBA underlined that the statistics reported by their member companies takes into account the direct sales of
button cells to the end-users and the sales made to Other Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) who place these button
cells in the market as incorporated in various products. However, these sales only take into account the sales made to
OEMs based in the European market. It does not include the button cells sales to OEMs outside EU, who may, later in
turn place their products on the EU market. The quantity of button cells placed in EU market via import of products
containing these button cells can be estimated based on the Member State implementation reports to the Commission
as required by the Batteries Directive. Member States are currently collecting this data. However, as the first report will
only be available in June 2013, at the time of drafting this report, it is not possible to trace quantities of button cells
introduced in EU by the import of products (in which these button cells are already incorporated).
161
This estimate is based on the comparison of EPBA statistics for year 2010 with the overall button cell market data
for Germany, published by GRS, the German battery take back scheme.
162
It is important to acknowledge that this estimate of the overall market of button cells in EU only gives a partial view
since differences will occur from one Member State to another. Even more as EPBA remarked that the button cells
market share of its member companies in Germany is much higher as compared to in other Member States in EU.
163
Five out of the six stakeholders who responded to the questionnaire survey expect the share of mercury-free button
cells to increase in the coming years in EU.
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 119
Part B – Problem definition and objectives
Increasing separate collection rates of batteries is a challenging task. In the absence of further
policy actions, the button cells waste collection rate in EU is likely to progressively increase and
reach the minimum thresholds set under the Batteries Directive. It will probably take a long time
before high collection and recycling rates are achieved in all Member States. In the present study,
it is proposed to use the collection rate reported for 2009, i.e. 12% (waste collection scenario 1),
as an estimate of the current situation (assuming no improvement since 2009 – which is relatively
pessimistic) and the legislative target of 45% (waste collection scenario 2) as an estimate of the
likely situation in 2016.
Specific issues related to mercury-oxide batteries
The Batteries Directive has prohibited the placing of mercury-oxide button cells on the EU
market since January 2000164. However, PRODCOM165 reports that small quantities of mercuryoxide button cells (less than 0.05% of the overall button cell market) were still being placed on
the EU market until 2007 (see Annex G). The International Merchandise Trade Statistics
(IMTS)166 also reports trade of mercury oxide batteries (not only button cells) for the EU over the
years 2007-2010. The overall EU imports of these mercury oxide batteries, as reported by IMTS
are much higher compared to the corresponding exports. The average difference between EU
imports and exports was around 9.5 million mercury oxide battery units over the period 20072010. Most of these mercury oxide batteries import (more than 90% on average) in EU originate
from China (see Annex G). If these mercury oxide batteries were legal imports, the only reason
would be that they are for military or air space purposes as those fields are exempted from
Batteries Directive. Due to a lack of other sources of information in this context, the PRODCOM
and IMTS statistics on placing of mercury-oxide batteries cannot be validated. For the
assessment performed in this study, it is therefore assumed that, since January 2000, the legal
market of mercury-oxide button cells has ceased to exist in the EU, as required by the Batteries
Directive.
6.6
Justification for an EU action
First of all, the mercury pollution issue is a transboundary issue, as airborne mercury can be
transported over long distances (i.e. across continents). EU action is therefore more effective
than uncoordinated action by the Member States to address this issue.
Furthermore, all Member States are affected by the use of mercury in button cells as these are
freely circulating in the internal market – therefore the need for harmonisation and coordination
of policies and implementing measures at the EU-level. Mercury content restrictions in batteries
and accumulators have been harmonised in the Batteries Directive 2006/66/EC – hence any
further restrictions should also be considered in a harmonised manner to avoid creating obstacles
164
These batteries contain approximately 30-40% Hg by weight, hence they are not concerned by the 2% Hg content
exemption
165
PRODCOM data is based on manufactured goods whose definitions are standardised across the EU thus
guaranteeing comparability between Member States
(epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/prodcom/data/database)
166
Statistics Division of United Nations
120 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Part B – Problem definition and objectives
to the functioning of the internal market. Action at EU level on this issue is therefore justified by
the necessity to ensure a level playing field for manufacturers and traders of button cells sold in
the EU (i.e. establishing the same trade rules for all companies in all Member States).
6.7
Policy objectives
The general objective of any future policies in relation to mercury in button cell batteries will be
to reduce the environmental impacts from the use of mercury in these products and to reduce
their contribution to the overall mercury problem. In the long-term, this should contribute to
achieving reduced mercury levels in the environment, at EU and global level, especially levels of
methylmercury in fish. This general objective may take decades to be achieved, as the present
levels of mercury in the environment are representative of past mercury emissions, and even
without further emissions it would take some time for these levels to fall.
This long-term policy objective can be achieved through specific policy actions aiming to restrict
and, where feasible, eliminate mercury from button cells.
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Part B – Problem definition and objectives
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122 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Part B – Policy options
Chapter 7:
Policy options
T
his chapter describes the two policy options that have been selected for further analysis,
i.e. the ‘no policy change’ option and a ban on the placing on the market of mercurycontaining button cell batteries in the EU. The latter policy option has been selected on
the basis of the evidence analysed in the previous sections of this study as well as initial feedback
received from the stakeholders. This chapter also explains why some other policy options have
been excluded from the analysis, based on preliminary screening.
7.1
Policy options selected for further analysis
Option 1: ‘No policy change’
In this option, no further constraints would be imposed concerning the placing on the EU market
of mercury-containing button cell batteries. The shift to Hg-free button cells in the EU will
probably continue in the coming years, driven by recent developments in the USA and
environmental responsibility policies of the manufacturers; however it is not known how fast a
complete phase-out of mercury would occur.
The baseline scenario is described in further details in Section 2.6.
Option 2: Ban the placing on the market of mercury-containing button cell batteries in
the EU
A legal ban would accelerate the transition to Hg-free alternatives and would accelerate the
reduction of costs for the production of Hg-free button cells. This ban would involve deleting the
exemption contained in (Article 4 (2)) of the Batteries Directive, concerning the maximum
allowable mercury content of button cells167. No exemption to this ban is proposed here168, based
on the feedback received from industry stakeholders consulted as part of this study157.
Besides, such a policy option would also encourage countries importing large amounts of button
cells to the EU market, such as China (where most button cells are manufactured), to switch to
the manufacture of Hg-free button cells, which could have a global impact on the use of mercury
in this industry sector.
167
Batteries Directive 2006/66/EC, Article 4(2). As for other portable batteries, the maximum allowable mercury
content in Option 2 would be extremely low, i.e. 0.005% Hg by weight, to account for the presence of some mercurycontaining impurities in zinc used in the batteries.
168
During the stakeholder consultation, the French Environment Ministry however noted that, according to informal
information received from French battery manufacturers, the exemption for button cells used in hearing aids (zinc air
button cells) should be maintained, as there are no technologically and economically viable mercury-free alternatives
that are currently available on the French market (the French Environment Ministry has no evidence that mercury-free
zinc-air button cells have an equivalent performance). This is however in contradiction to the recommendation of the
button cell manufacturers in EU who claim that Hg-free alternatives to button cells are available for all applications
(including hearing aids).
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 123
Part B – Policy options
Similar to the ‘No policy change’ option, in this option it is assumed that the button cells waste
collection rate in EU would progressively increase to reach the minimum thresholds set under the
Batteries Directive – a collection rate of 25% by September 2012 and 45% by September 2016.
It must however be noted that although this policy option restricts the placing of new Hgcontaining button cells on the EU market, Hg-containing button cells waste will continue to
emerge in the collected waste for up to 5 years169 on average after the implementation of the
ban.
It is assumed that the ban would become applicable around 18-24 months after adoption of the
legislative change, which corresponds to the time that is likely to be required by the industry for
the implementation of this change170.
7.2
Policy options excluded from the analysis
Voluntary commitment from the battery industry
This policy option does not appear to be feasible since the number of different actors that would
need to be involved in such an agreement would be relatively high and many of the companies
producing batteries that are sold in the EU are not based in the EU. This option was therefore
discarded.
169
According to one of the stakeholders (button cell recycler), the average age of mercury-containing button cell waste
collected for recycling in EU is 5 years.
170
Source: The estimate on time required for the implementation reflects the opinion of a button cell manufacturer in
EU.
124 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Part B – Analysis of impacts
Chapter 8:
Analysis of impacts
T
his chapter analyses the potential direct and indirect environment, social, and economic
impacts of the policy options listed in the previous section. The aim of this analysis is to
provide clear information on the likely impacts of the policy options as a basis for
comparing them against one another.
Stakeholder consultation and literature review are the main information sources for the analysis
of environmental, economic and social impacts.
8.1
Selection of impact categories and indicators
One of the first steps required for analysing impacts of the different policy options is to select
impact categories and where possible the associated measurable indicators. When considering
impact categories and indicators, it is important to keep in mind the main life-cycle stages of the
button cells, during which impacts occur.
Table 10 presents a selection of indicators that are used to guide the analysis of economic, social
and environmental impacts of the proposed policy options. These indicators are mostly
measured quantitatively and when data was not available (either through literature review or
stakeholder consultation), a qualitative assessment was made.
Table 10: List of impact categories and the corresponding methods of evaluation
Economic
Environmental
Impact
category
Indicator
Unit (if
applicable)
Method for evaluation
Environmental emissions
to air/water/soil/biota
Tonnes Hg
Based on Hg content of button cells placed on the
EU market and the quantities of button cells not
separately collected for recycling
Impact on industry
(revenues, innovation,
competitiveness)
Euros
Literature review and consultation with experts
from the companies manufacturing, importing or
trading Hg-containing/Hg-free button cells in EU
Impact on retailers
(revenues)
Euros
Expert consultation and literature review
Impact on consumers
(product prices)
Euros
Expert consultation and literature review
concerning the cost difference between Hgcontaining and Hg-free button cells and quantities
of button cells placed on EU market
Impact on button cells
waste management
industry (revenues)
Euros
Literature review and consultation with experts
from the waste button cell collection and recycling
companies
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 125
Part B – Analysis of impacts
Impact
category
Indicator
Social
Administrative burdens
(MS authorities)
8.2
8.2.1
Unit (if
applicable)
Method for evaluation
Euros
Expert consultation and literature review
Employment generation
Semiquantitative
Expert consultation and literature review
concerning the number of companies
manufacturing/trading Hg-containing/Hg-free
button cells in EU and the companies involved in
their end-of-life waste management
Impact on public health
N.A.
Based on information on environmental emissions
Environmental impacts
Option 1 (‘no policy change’)
The environmental impacts resulting from the mercury contained in the button cells mainly occur
during the end-of-life phase due to the landfilling or incineration of waste button cells which are
not separately collected for recycling or disposal as hazardous waste. The recycling efficiency of
mercury from waste button cells is more than 99% (by weight)171. The incineration or landfilling in
facilities for non-hazardous waste generates environmental impacts, notably through mercury
emissions to air, water and soil.
It is possible to calculate the quantity of mercury introduced in the EU economy via the button
cells using the market data presented in the baseline scenario, Annex G and the following
assumptions:
The average weight of state-of-the-art button cells range between: 0.3 to 1.9
grams for zinc-air, 0.3 to 2.3 grams for silver-oxide and 0.8 to 3.3 grams for alkaline
button cells.
The average mercury content (by weight) of state-of-the-art button cells is: 1% for
zinc-air, 0.5% for silver-oxide and 0.45% for alkaline button cells.
Hg-free alternatives represent 39% of the overall button cells market in EU.
Using this information, an estimate of quantities of mercury introduced in the EU economy
through button cells from 2006 until 2010 is presented in Table 11 below.
171
Source: Based on feedback provided by a waste button cell recycler (Batrec, Switzerland)
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Part B – Analysis of impacts
Table 11: Mercury contained in button cells placed on EU market from 2006 until 2010
Year
Minimum quantity (in
kg)
Maximum quantity (in kg)
Average quantity (in kg)
2006
1 149
7 217
4 183
2007
1 084
6 772
3 928
2008
1 173
7 396
4 284
2009
1 278
8 083
4 680
2010
1 414
8 814
5 114
NB: The above estimates may be slightly pessimistic as they assume that no mercury free alternatives to any of the
button cells (ZnO, AgO and alkaline) were sold in EU during these years.
The total amount of button cell waste generated in EU in 2010 is estimated to be around 1 660
tonnes172.
Waste collection scenario 1
This scenario represents a waste button cell collection rate of 12% (as observed in 2009). This
means, in 2010, around 200 tonnes of button cells waste was separately collected and recycled in
EU. In other words, approximately 3.9 t Hg contained in the button cell waste escaped separate
collection schemes and ended up with mixed non-hazardous waste.
Waste collection scenario 2
This scenario corresponds to the legislative target set for 2016 by the Batteries Directive, i.e. a
waste button cell collection rate of 45%. If such a target had been reached in 2010 (which is
highly unlikely, although no data is currently available to check this point), it would have resulted
in around 745 tonnes of button cells waste separately collected and recycled in EU. In other
words, approximately 2.4 t Hg contained in the button cell waste would have escaped separate
collection schemes and ended up with mixed non-hazardous waste.
The quantity of mercury in button cell batteries that ended up in the environment in 2010, due to
inadequate waste management, is therefore estimated to be in the range of 2.4 to 3.9 tonnes.
This mercury remains potentially bioavailable and may accumulate in the food chain in the form
of methylmercury, leading to potential impacts to ecosystems and human health.
172
Calculated as per the guidance provided in the Batteries Directive
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Part B – Analysis of impacts
8.2.2
Option 2
Policy Option 2 will avoid the introduction of around approximately 5.1 tonnes/year of mercury
contained in the button cells into the EU economy173 and the emissions of 2.4 to 3.9 t Hg/year in
the environment (due to inadequate waste management). As the average age of button cell
waste generated in EU is around 5 years, the Hg-containing button cell waste will still be present
in the waste stream even up to 5-10 years after the implementation of Policy Option 2. The actual
environmental impacts of mercury from button cells, including adverse effects to ecosystems,
will probably take several decades to fully disappear given the potential for the emitted mercury
to be transformed into methylmercury and to bioaccumulate.
8.3
8.3.1
Economic impacts
Option 1 (‘no policy change’)
Impact on battery industry
If there is no policy change, no additional costs over normal business functioning expenditure for
the button cell industry are expected. It is important to note that in the baseline scenario there is
already a natural shift of consumers towards Hg-free alternatives of button cells (which currently
represent around 39% of the overall button cell market in EU). In order to meet this natural
market shift, it is expected that button cell manufacturers are already investing more in R&D and
infrastructure development of Hg-free button cells and will continue to do so in the coming years.
This natural investment in the baseline scenario needs to be considered while assessing the costs
to button cell manufacturers in case the current exemption to restriction of mercury use in button
cells was to be withdrawn. Due to a lack of information, the quantification of normal business
functioning expenditure for button cells industry is not available. However, it does not affect the
economic analysis presented here as the objective is to compare policy options and therefore
only extra costs/benefits compared to the baseline scenario are required in this context.
Impact on public authorities
If there is no policy change, no additional administrative burdens for the competent Member
States authorities are expected.
173
Based on the average amount of mercury contained in the button cells placed in the EU market in 2010.
128 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Part B – Analysis of impacts
8.3.2
Option 2
8.3.2.1
Impact on battery industry
Based on latest information provided by key stakeholders, Hg-free alternatives are now available
for all applications (see Annex G). Therefore, no significant additional investments in Research
and Development (R&D) of Hg-free button cell are expected by the manufacturers in Policy
Option 2.
The manufacturers consulted as part of this study also remarked that the basic production
method is the same for both Hg-containing and Hg-free button cells. They further commented
that small changes are sufficient to convert existing assembly lines for making Hg-free button
cells.
It also needs to be highlighted that the phase-out of mercury in button cells placed on EU market
would create a level playing field for button cell manufacturers/importers/traders around the
global market as Hg-containing buttons cells have already been banned in other parts of the
world (e.g. US states of Maine, Connecticut and Rhode Island – See Section 6.2.2). The phase-out
of mercury in button cells placed on EU market would therefore foster innovation and create
business opportunities for button cell companies in EU to play a leading role in the global
context.
8.3.2.2
Impact on retailers
It is assumed that the potential extra costs to the retailers due to the higher purchase price of the
Hg-free button cells compared to the Hg-containing button cells will be entirely passed on to the
consumers, therefore not impacting the retailers.
8.3.2.3
Impact on consumers
In the case of the restriction on use of mercury in button cells, consumers will potentially be
impacted due to the higher selling price of alternative Hg-free button cells. The manufacturers
who participated in the stakeholder consultation remarked that the additional cost of Hg-free
alternatives is due to two main reasons:
The higher prices of raw material used;
Production of low quantities of Hg-free button cells at the moment, when
compared to their Hg-containing substitutes.
A majority of the manufacturers pointed out that, on an average, Hg-free button cells cost
around 10% more compared to their Hg-containing substitutes. All the manufacturers confirmed
that the full conversion of their manufacturing facilities to single line production (Hg-free) will
bring economies of scale (in purchasing, manufacturing, logistics, etc.) hence leading to lowering
the overall cost of Hg-free alternatives. In such a case, the manufactures suggested a price
premium of around 5% in near future for Hg-free alternatives when compared to the
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 129
Part B – Analysis of impacts
conventional Hg-containing button cells. Manufacturers further commented that this price
premium of 5% may not cease to exist even in long term, as raw materials used in Hg-free
alternatives are likely to remain costly compared to the raw materials used in Hg-containing
button cells.
The economic impact on consumers is therefore assessed for following two scenarios
(corresponding to two different levels of price premium for Hg-free alternatives):
Scenario 1: Hg-free button cells cost around 10% more compared to their Hgcontaining substitutes;
Scenario 2: Hg-free button cells cost around 5% more compared to their Hgcontaining substitutes.
In Scenario 1, the impact of increased cost when translated on the overall EU market of Hgcontaining button cells (zinc-air, alkaline and silver-oxide) in 2010 results in an additional annual
cost of around EUR 87 million (approximately an increase of around EUR 0.08 per unit of button
cell sold in EU) for the button cell consumers in EU174.
As expected, in Scenario 2, the resulting economic impacts on consumers would be half that in
Scenario 1 (results in an additional annual cost of around EUR 44 million in 2010, which is an
increase of approximately EUR 0.04 per unit of button cell sold in EU).
It must however be noted that these estimates of additional costs should only be considered as
the highest possible costs for the consumers. In reality, the impact on consumers will be lower
than this as the above presented estimate does not take into account the natural evolution of the
market share of the Hg-free alternatives in the EU market, which is expanding.
Based on the comparison of the two scenarios presented above, it can be concluded that the
economies of scale resulting as an outcome of Policy Option 2 will lead to a lower economic
impact on consumers.
8.3.2.4
Impact on button cells waste management companies
The compliance organisations that are involved in the collection of waste button cells in each of
the Member States charge their members fees for the collection of waste batteries for every
button cell placed by them on the market175. However, due to increased competition, information
on fees is not public in most of the Member States. For the analysis in this study, it is assumed
that there is no difference in collection costs between mercury-containing and Hg-free button
cells.
Sorting of button cell waste into different types is usually done automatically by a sorting
machine based on the difference in size of the button cells. At present, most of the time, Hg-
174
This calculation uses the following average sales price for each unit of Hg-containing button cell (based on
stakeholder’s inputs): zinc-air (€1.23/unit), alkaline (€2.78/unit) and silver-oxide (€2.76/unit). The lithium button cell
sales volume are not considered while performing this calculation as all the lithium button cells sold in EU are already
Hg-free.
175
For example, STIBAT in Netherlands charges its members €0.003 (excluding VAT) for every button cell battery
placed by them on the market.
130 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Part B – Analysis of impacts
containing and Hg-free button cells waste are not sorted from each other, hence resulting in
similar treatment costs.
The cost of recycling waste button cells depends on various parameters, such as: their physical
condition; recycling technology used; types of materials recovered; value of the recovered
metals; and economies of scale. Button cell waste recycling process is comprised of two steps:
the first step of the process extracts mercury from the waste and is followed by a second step to
extract the remaining materials/metals. Two button cell waste recyclers (one based in Germany
and the second in Switzerland) estimated the first process step to account for 30-40% of the
overall cost of recycling button cell waste176. The reduced waste treatment costs (in the longterm) for the Hg-free button cell waste will therefore make their recycling more attractive to the
recycling companies. This may in turn also affect the lowering of fees paid by the manufacturers
to the compliance organisations.
The recyclers further commented that the first step of the process (i.e. Hg extraction from waste
button cells) only represents 5-10% of their overall turnover and unavailability of such mercurycontaining waste should not have a significant negative impact on their recycling activities.
8.3.2.5
Impact on public authorities
The restriction of mercury use in button cells placed on the EU market will require the competent
Member State authorities to monitor and control their markets in order to ensure effective
implementation of the ban. The Batteries Directive applies equally to all the Member States and
it already requires each of them to regularly monitor the restriction of mercury use in portable
batteries (other than button cells). To accomplish this, each Member State is expected to already
have competent bodies, which can also handle the ban of Hg-containing button cells.
An additional body for monitoring is therefore not required as this task will most likely be
handled by an already existing competent body, which monitors the restriction of mercury in
portable batteries (other than button cells). The implementation of Option 2 is therefore not
expected to generate additional administrative burden for Member State authorities.
8.4
8.4.1
Social impacts
Option 1 (‘no policy change’)
Employment
As there is no additional impact than normal business functioning on the industry stakeholders
linked to button cells, there is no impact on employment generation.
176
The treatment of mercury-free batteries involves smaller costs for screening and classification of collected batteries
and for flue-gas treatment, compared to mercury-containing batteries. In Germany, the costs of treatment of collected
mercury-containing batteries (average mercury content 5.3%) were €3.03 per kilo in 2007 while the cost of treatment
of mercury-free batteries was €0.80 to €1.35 per kg of batteries. (Source: Stiftung gemeinsames Rücknahmesystem
Batterien, 2008, www.unece.org/env/documents/2009/EB/wg5/wgsr45/ece.eb.air.wg5.2009.8.e.pdf)
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 131
Part B – Analysis of impacts
Public health and safety
Impacts to public health and safety are mostly related to the possible health damages due to
exposure to mercury. If no further policy action is taken, only a slight reduction of mercury
releases to the environment and possible associated health risks is expected to occur in future
years, thanks to improved waste collection and treatment and the progressive substitution of
mercury-containing button cells.
8.4.2
Option 2
Employment
The phase-out of mercury in button cells may theoretically slightly affect the employment
generation in EU (primarily related to production and end-of-life management of button cells).
However, due to a lack of information concerning the extent of these impacts, their
quantification is not possible.
Public health and safety
The decrease in mercury releases to the environment expected to occur under this policy option
(see Section 8.2.2) would result in avoided damages to public health, as exposure to mercury due
to button cells will be eliminated in the long-term.
132 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Part B – Comparison of options and conclusions
Chapter 9:
Comparison of options and conclusions
A
comparison of the different policy options analysed, based on their respective
environmental and socio-economic impacts, is presented in this chapter. The
comparison highlights the advantages and disadvantages of these policy options, across
the economic, social, administrative and environmental dimensions and it identifies their
potential weaknesses and risks.
9.1
Comparison of options
To compare the two policy options, a semi-quantitative score matrix approach is adopted (see
Table 12 ). The level of detail in the analysis depends on the amount of information gathered as
well as their quality.
Table 12: Semi-quantitative score matrix
Legend
Likely effect with regard to the baseline scenario
++
Strongly positive impact
+
Positive impact
0
No significant effect (similar to the baseline)
-
Negative impact
--
Strongly negative impact
≈
Marginal/Negligible impact
?
Uncertain impact
Table 13 summarises the possible environmental, economic, social and administrative impact for
implementation of the two policy options at the EU level. In each cell of the matrix a qualitative
score is given, hence, forming the basis for identifying the most workable approach in an efficient
and effective manner.
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 133
Part B – Comparison of options and conclusions
Table 13: Comparison of the two policy options according to economic, environmental and
social indicators
Policy Option
Impact Indicator
Option 1
Option 2
‘No policy change’
‘Mercury ban in button cell batteries’
0
++
Approx. 2.4 to 3.9 t Hg/year
contained in button cell waste
escape separate collection
schemes and end up with nonhazardous waste in EU (using
year 2010 as basis for this
analysis)
Introduction of around 5.1 t Hg/year
contained in button cells placed on EU
market will be avoided, as well as the
resulting environmental emissions due to
inadequate end-of-life management, when
compared to Option 1
0
≈
No additional cost or turnover
loss
Marginal or neutral cost related to
investments in R&D and assembly lines
adaptation for the button cell
manufacturers in EU
0
+
No impact on competitiveness
and innovation
Option 2 would foster innovation and
create additional business opportunities for
EU button cell companies to play a leading
role in the global context
0
0
No additional cost or turnover
loss
Retailers will most likely pass on the
increase in cost (of purchase of alternatives
to Hg-containing button cells) entirely to
consumers
0
?
No additional cost
An average Hg-free button cell sold in EU
will cost around 5-10% more
(approximately an increase of around EUR
0.04-0.18/unit of button cell) to the
consumer than the average Hg-containing
button cell. This impact may however be
lower given the natural evolution of market
share of Hg-free button cells in EU (which
is expanding)
Environmental impact indicators
Hg flows
Economic impact indicators
Costs for button cell
manufacturers/importers/traders
Competitiveness of EU battery
industry and innovation
Costs for retailers
Costs for consumers
134 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Part B – Comparison of options and conclusions
Policy Option
Option 1
Option 2
‘No policy change’
‘Mercury ban in button cell batteries’
0
+
No additional cost or turnover
loss
Up to 30-40% lower recycling cost for the
recycling of all button cell waste collected
in EU, compared to Option 1.
0
≈
No implementation costs for MS
authorities
Marginal or neutral cost since Hg
restrictions in portable batteries (other
than button cells) are already implemented
in EU under the Batteries Directive
0
≈ (?)
Does not increase/decrease jobs
Employment generation in EU may
theoretically be slightly affected (primarily
related to production and end-of-life
management of button cells)
0
+
No additional impact
In the long term, positive impact on public
health due to elimination of exposure to
mercury emissions associated with button
cells
Impact Indicator
Costs for waste collectors and
recyclers
Administrative burden for MS
authorities
Social impact indicators
Employment generation (in
button cell manufacturers,
importers and traders; in MS
implementation authorities; and
in button cell battery waste
collectors and recyclers)
Public health quality
9.2
Conclusions
Based on the analysis conducted in this study, the ban on the placing on the market of mercurycontaining button cells in the EU emerges out as a clear winner in terms of environmental
benefits, with very limited adverse economic impacts as compared with the ‘no policy change’
option.
It also needs to be highlighted that the phase-out of mercury in button cells placed on EU market
would create a level playing field for button cell manufacturers/importers/traders around the
global market as Hg-containing buttons cells have already been banned in other parts of the
world (e.g. US States of Maine, Connecticut and Rhode Island). The phase-out of mercury in
button cells placed on EU market would therefore foster innovation and create business
opportunities for button cell companies in EU to play a leading role in the global context.
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 135
Part B – Comparison of options and conclusions
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136 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Annexes
ANNEXES
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Annex A – Questionnaire to Member States
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138 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Annex A – Questionnaire to Member States
Annex A: Questionnaire to Member States
European Commission DG ENV
Study on potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam
and batteries
(Ref. No. 07.0307/2011/594114/SER/C3)
Questionnaire to Member States (Environmental and Health
Authorities)
Sept. 2011
This questionnaire aims to collect information to feed into the study on ‘Potential for reducing
mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries’ conducted by BIO Intelligence Service
(BIO) for the European Commission (DG ENV). The questionnaire focuses on dental amalgam
only, since most of the data gaps relate to this topic.
The objective of this study is to provide the Commission with a solid evidence base in order to
inform future policy actions with a view to addressing the environmental problems posed by the
use of dental amalgam. The study includes:
An in-depth analysis of current amounts of mercury used in dental
amalgam in EU and the associated environmental impacts; and
An impact assessment of possible policy options to reduce mercury
pollution from this use, with recommendations for further policy
actions.
The present study aims to describe the full EU picture in a comprehensive manner, with a
breakdown of data per Member State (MS), allowing us to identify any significant contrasts
between MS.
An active participation of MS in providing relevant data is thus essential to help us build a
robust evidence base and take into account the variety of situations across the EU when
identifying possible policy options.
This questionnaire also offers MS an opportunity to provide suggestions for policy options that
should be considered as part of the impact assessment.
The questionnaire includes two parts:
Part 1 contains questions intended for Environmental Authorities
Part 2 contains questions intended for Health Authorities.
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 139
Annex A – Questionnaire to Member States
Member States may wish to coordinate responses from their authorities but can also send
separate submissions to BIO.
Existing information
In order to minimise the time needed to answer this questionnaire, we have compiled
information already available from previous studies and surveys in four annexes:
Annex 1: Analysis of Member States replies to a letter of DG ENV
concerning the environmentally sound management of dental amalgam
waste (2005)
Annex 2: Data from the report for DG ENV on ‘Options for reducing
mercury use in products and applications, and the fate of mercury
already circulating in society’ (COWI, 2008)
Annex 3: Compilation of data submitted by Parties to the OSPAR
Convention, under the PARCOM Recommendation 2003/4 on
‘controlling the dispersal of mercury from crematoria’
Annex 4: Overview of policy measures
We are only interested in information updating and complementing what is presented in these
Annexes.
Supplementary material
If you have any supporting documents and datasets that may be useful for this study, we
would be very grateful if you could submit this information with your reply to this questionnaire.
You may also want to indicate specific links to websites containing useful information.
We thank you in advance for your time and participation.
Please do not hesitate to contact us for clarification or information regarding this questionnaire.
Kindly send the completed questionnaires to mercury@biois.com
at the latest by 10 October 2011
Alternatively, fax submission can be sent to:
+ 33 1 56 53 99 90 (BIO)
Hard copies of documents can be mailed to the following address:
20/22 Villa Deshayes – 75014 Paris – France
Contact persons: Shailendra Mudgal / Lise Van Long  + 33 (0)1 53 90 11 80
140 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Annex A – Questionnaire to Member States
PART 1: QUESTIONS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL AUTHORITIES
Contact information
Name:
Position/Department/National Authority:
Country (MS):
Telephone:
E-mail:
Mercury releases to water
Q1: What are the legal requirements related to amalgam separators in your country? (Please
tick the corresponding boxes – Existing information is summarised in Annex 1)
Amalgam separators required for new dental practices
Amalgam separators required for existing dental practices
Minimum efficiency of the amalgam separators required (please specify the min level
required:
)
Maximum authorised concentration of mercury from separators (please specify the max
concentration allowed:
)
Adequate maintenance of amalgam separators required by law
Documented evidence of amalgam separators’ maintenance required by law
Periodic inspections of dental practices from public authorities concerning the management
of dental amalgam waste
Additional legal requirements (please specify):
Q2: What is the percentage of dental clinics equipped with amalgam separators in your country?
Mercury releases to air
Q3: If estimates of mercury emissions from crematoria are available in your country, please
provide the estimates by completing the tables below or the free text box.
NB: The data we already hold is compiled in Annex 3 (submissions under OSPAR Convention, 2009)
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 141
Annex A – Questionnaire to Member States
For crematoria applying mercury removal techniques:
Year
Number of
crematoria
Number of
cremations
Hg emissions (kg Hg)
Estimation method and information
sources
For crematoria not applying mercury removal techniques:
Year
Number of
crematoria
Number of
cremations
Hg emissions (kg Hg)
Estimation method and information
sources
Other information on emissions from cremation:
Dental amalgam waste
Q4: Do you have any estimates of the dental amalgam waste quantities produced and treated
in your country and/or exported? If so, please indicate available data in the table below.
NB: The EU waste code for dental amalgam is 18 01 01. Previous data for some MS is presented in Annex 2.
Waste quantities
(kg/year)
Mercury quantities in
waste (kg/year)
Year of the
data
Total dental amalgam waste generated
- Of which: Quantities collected as hazardous
waste
- Of which:
Quantities sent to recycling within your
country (hazardous waste)
Quantities landfilled within your country
(hazardous waste)
Quantities mixed with municipal waste
Quantities mixed with medical waste
Quantities exported (please specify to which
country(ies):
)
Additional information/comments concerning the above table:
Existing policy measures going beyond EU legislation
Q5: Available information on existing policy measures concerning dental amalgam going
beyond EU legislation is compiled in Annex 4 to this questionnaire. Please briefly describe any
additional policy measures not covered by this Annex in the box below.
NB: We are particularly interested in any mercury-related provisions related to the transposition of the Water
Framework Directive (2000/60/EC), the Directive on dangerous substances (2006/11/EC) and the Directive on
Priority Substances (2008/105/EC)
142 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Annex A – Questionnaire to Member States
Cost comparison
Q6: Do you have any estimates of the overall costs incurred by public authorities to manage
environmental releases and waste from dental amalgam in your country?
NB: This may include, for example, extra costs for landfilling or incinerating sewage sludge with excessive
amounts of Hg rather than using it for agricultural purposes, installing mercury abatement devices to sludge
incineration facilities, conducting inspections of dental practices, etc.
Other information (optional)
Additional types of information that would also be very useful for our study are listed below. If
such information is available for your country, could you please either give some details in the
boxes below or indicate relevant public data/reports which we should review, or send us the
relevant information as attachment.
Q7: Quantity of mercury released to urban sewers from dental clinics (after possible
recovery in amalgam separators) in your country (kg/year)
Q8: Quantity of mercury released to surface water after urban wastewater treatment, in
your country (kg/year)
Q9: Quantity of mercury captured in sludge from urban wastewater treatment plants that is
spread to agricultural lands or incinerated, in your country (kg/year).
Suggestions for future policy actions
Q10: If you have any suggestions concerning policy actions that should be considered in order to
reduce mercury pollution from dental amalgam, please provide your comments below.
Other comments
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 143
Annex A – Questionnaire to Member States
PART 2: QUESTIONS FOR HEALTH AUTHORITIES
Contact information
Name:
Position/Department/National Authority:
Country (MS):
Telephone:
E-mail:
Materials used for dental restoration
Q11: If you have information on quantities of mercury for dental amalgam used in your country
(in the form of capsules and in liquid form), please provide the available data in the box below or
indicate relevant public data sources/reports that we could review.
Q12: What is the percentage of dental restorations in which dental amalgam is used in your
country? (vs. mercury-free alternatives)
Q13: If you have information on quantities of mercury-free filling materials used in your
country, please provide the available data in the box below or indicate relevant public data
sources/reports that we could review.
Dental health
Q14: What is the average number of dental restorations (amalgam and alternative materials)
per person and per year in your country?
In children:
(please also specify the age range:
)
In adults:
Q15: In future years, how is the total number of dental restorations (amalgam and alternative
materials) expected to evolve? (reduce/stabilise/increase/unknown trend)
144 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Annex A – Questionnaire to Member States
Q16: Do you have any estimate of national public expenses in dental disease prevention
policies (EUR/year)? If so, please provide the available data in the box below with a brief
description of these policies
Cost comparison
Q17: What is the average price for patients of a dental restoration?
Using amalgam
Using mercury-free filling materials
Reimbursement schemes
Q18: Are dental restoration treatments covered by a national health reimbursement scheme in
your country?
Yes
No
If your answer is yes:
Is dental restoration using mercury-free filling materials reimbursed the same way as
dental amalgam?
Yes
No
Please provide details on how the scheme works.
Other comments
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 145
Annex B - Overview of policy measures concerning dental amalgam
Annex B: Overview of policy measures concerning dental amalgam
The table below provides a summary of Member States’ policies and best practices going beyond EU policy with regard to the management of
environmental issues related to dental amalgam. Examples of international initiatives going beyond EU policy are also mentioned.
Table 14: Overview of MS and international legislation and best practices going beyond EU policy
EU policy measures
MS policies/best practices going beyond EU policy
International policies/best practices going beyond EU policy
SE: As part of the general ban on mercury-containing products, the use
of dental amalgam is phased out in Sweden for all applications except
for a time-limited exemption till 30 June 2012 for use in adults in
hospital dental care if there are special medical reasons, if other
methods of treatment do not provide a sufficiently good result in an
individual case and the clinic is specially arranged from the
environmental point of view for the use of dental amalgam. This
exception will be evaluated after 31 December 2011, to make a
177
standpoint on future use of dental amalgam .
NO: As part of the general ban on mercury-containing products (adopted in
2008), use of dental amalgam is prohibited. Since Jan 2011, no more
exemptions of the dental amalgam ban have been allowed. It is however
possible to apply for an exemption from the Norwegian Climate and
Pollution Agency (Klif) for the use of dental amalgam for a single patient;
very few applications for such use have been received by Klif.
Dental amalgam use
–
DK: Ban on the use of dental amalgam for children's milk teeth and all
front teeth
DE: It is recommended not to use dental amalgam on children,
pregnant and nursing women, people with kidney problems, when in
contact with other metals, such as braces, and in people with mercury
sensitivity
177
CH: Use of dental amalgam exempted from the general ban if no
substitutes are technically available; however Hg-free alternatives are
widely used
JP: Recommended to avoid the use of dental amalgam.
CA: Health Canada directed its dentists to stop using amalgam in children,
pregnant women, and people with impaired kidney function
AU: Australia’s National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC) says
amalgam should be avoided in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children,
The hospital dental care units are obliged to report their intention to use amalgam in order to evaluate the need for the exemption. The National Board of Health and Welfare must be
notified before the first treatment with amalgam starts. Information must be noted on patient particulars, the medical reasons for using amalgam must be stated and the amount of
amalgam used must be recorded. Since the general ban came into force (June 2009) and until June 2011, it was reported that only about 25 patients have been treated with dental
amalgam (as part of hospital treatments).
146 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Annex B - Overview of policy measures concerning dental amalgam
EU policy measures
MS policies/best practices going beyond EU policy
FR: AFFSAPS (French agency in charge of health products)
recommended in 2005 to avoid dental amalgam use in pregnant and
breastfeeding women (because of mercury vapours during placement).
A similar recommendations had already been issued in 1998 by the
French National Superior Hygiene Council.
IT: A regulation entitled Decreto Ministeriale sull'Amalgama issued by
the Ministry of Health in 2001 limits the use of amalgam in children
under the age of 6, in pregnant and feeding women, in people with
kidney injury and in people with allergy/sensitivity to one element of
amalgam.
International policies/best practices going beyond EU policy
and people with kidney disease.
UNEP partnership area on mercury reduction in products: Objective to
reduce the global demand for mercury in dental amalgam to less than
230 t/year, or a 15% reduction from status quo by 2015
WHO (World Health Organisation): Supporting a global phase-down of
dental amalgam use, as per their statement at INC1 in June 2010
Catalonia, ES: Since the end of 2007, there is a recommendation (by
the Environmental and Health Catalan Departments) of not placing
dental amalgam in pregnant women and children under 14 years old. In
2010, it was officially recommended (letter sent by Dr. Antonio
Plasència, General Director of Public Health in the Catalonia Health
Department, to the firms that buy/distribute medical products) not to
buy or distribute dental amalgams because of health and
178
environmental reasons
Dental amalgam waste and emissions to water
Directive 2008/98/EC (waste
framework) and Decision
2000/532/EC (list of wastes):
dental amalgam waste to be
managed as hazardous waste
AT, BE, CZ, DE, FR, FI, IT, LV, MT, NL, PT, SE, SI, UK: Dental
practices are required to be equipped with amalgam separators.
Additional conditions are usually required such as: minimum Hg
removal efficiency, equipment certification, Hg limit value in effluent,
adequate maintenance.
Water Framework Directive
(2000/60/EC), Decision
2001/2455/EC, Directive
2006/11/EC on dangerous
substances and Directive
DK: Guidance only, but widely applied by dentists.
178
NO: Limit on discharges and requirement to have an approved amalgam
separator (required to remove 95% of mercury from the wastewater)
CA: Had set a target of 95% national reduction in mercury releases from
dental amalgam waste discharges to the environment by 2005, from a base
year of 2000
Several US States: Dental practices are required to be equipped with
amalgam separators and to comply with environmental best management
practices
http://www.quimics.cat/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/NPQ-454.pdf
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 147
Annex B - Overview of policy measures concerning dental amalgam
EU policy measures
MS policies/best practices going beyond EU policy
International policies/best practices going beyond EU policy
Parties to OSPAR Convention: Recommendation to use BAT to reduce
Hg air emissions and report on implementation (PARCOM
Recommendation 2003/4). Covers BE, DE, DK, ES, FI, FR, IE, LU, NL,
PT, SE, UK.
UK: Abatement to be fitted covering 50% of cremations by end 2012,
179
plus all new crematoria to have abatement
DK: All crematoria are since 01.01.2011 equipped with filters and the
3
limit value for Hg emissions is 100 µg/m .
3
FR: ELV of 0.2 mg/Nm applicable from 2010 for new facilities and as of
2018 for existing facilities (Ministerial Order of 28/01/10)
CZ: Sum of Cd, Hg and Th from crematoria shall not exceed 0.2
3
mg/Nm
3
DE: Some Länder have adopted ELVs for Hg (e.g. 0.2 mg/Nm in
3
Sachsen and 0.5 mg/Nm in Brandenburg)
NL: Hg abatement measures for new crematoria have been obligatory
since 1999 and must be added by the end of 2006 or 2012 for large or
PARCOM Recommendation 2003/4 (OSPAR Convention):
Recommendation to use BAT to reduce Hg air emissions and report on
implementation
HELCOM Recommendation 29/1: Recommended ELV for Hg air emissions
3
0.1 mg/Nm (crematoria with a capacity > 500 cremations/year)
3
NO: ELV of 0.5 mg/Nm
2008/105/EC on priority
substances – Mercury
considered as a priority
hazardous substance, requiring
a cessation of emissions,
discharges and losses within 20
years after adoption of
measures. Environmental
Quality Standards defined for
Hg.
Mercury air emissions from cremation
–
179
In 2005, DEFRA and the Welsh Assembly Government established a 'burden sharing' system to reduce mercury emissions from existing crematoria. Under burden sharing, crematoria
operators can choose whether to fit mercury abatement equipment or contribute to the costs of others doing so. Website of the organisation running the main burden sharing scheme:
www.cameoonline.org.uk/
148 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Annex B - Overview of policy measures concerning dental amalgam
EU policy measures
MS policies/best practices going beyond EU policy
International policies/best practices going beyond EU policy
3
small existing crematoria respectively. ELV of 0.05 mg Hg/Nm
3
BE – Brussels Region: ELV of 0.1 mg/Nm
3
LU: ELV of 0.1 mg/Nm
IT: A specific decree on crematoria defining ELVs for Hg in crematoria
had to be taken in application of Law no 130 of 30 March 2001 but its
adoption is still pending. At the moment, Hg emissions from crematoria
180
are regulated by the legislation on incineration . The ELV of the State
regulation for mercury air emissions (which each crematorium must
3
comply with) is 0.05 mg/m as medium value registered for a period of
sampling of 1 hour; however, the Local Authority may impose a more
stringent ELV (which is often the case).
180
D.Lgs. N° 152 of 3 April 2006 and subsequent modifications and integrations (‘Norms in the field of environment’ – D.M. N° 124 of 25 February 2000 ‘Limit values of emission and
technical norms regarding the characteristics and operating conditions of f incineration plants’
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 149
Annex C - Life cycle of dental amalgam
Annex C: Assessment of environmental
emissions from dental amalgam use
The objective of this chapter is to provide a good evidence base in order to assess the extent to
which dental amalgam use contributes to the overall mercury problem in the EU. In particular,
this chapter presents information and data necessary to update and complement the findings
from previous studies on the topic.
Following a description of the methodology employed, this section provides an overview of
mercury releases from dental amalgam use and end of life phases and discusses the main aspects
of the life cycle for which data was lacking or needed to be updated in order to provide a full and
up-to-date EU picture of the problem. The additional data collected as part of the study is then
presented and analysed. Existing data from previous studies and newly collected data are
compiled to estimate mercury releases to the various environmental compartments. A
comparison with contributions from other sources is finally carried out in order to estimate the
scale of pollution caused by dental amalgam.
C.1 – Methodology
The objective of this part of the study was to identify and assess the potential environmental
impacts associated with the use of dental amalgam, focusing on key stages of its life cycle.
A thorough review of existing literature and data was first carried out. Some key information
sources are listed below:
Summary of Member States responses to 2005 EC survey on management of dental
amalgam waste
SCHER (2008) Opinion on the environmental risks and indirect health effects of
mercury in dental amalgam48
COWI/Concorde (2008) Options for reducing mercury use in products and
applications, and the fate of mercury already circulating in society31
Concorde/European Environmental Bureau (EEB) (2007) Mercury in dental use:
environmental implications for the EU181
Report from the conference ‘Dental sector as a source of mercury contamination’
organised by NGOs (2007)182
DEFRA consultation documents on mercury emissions from crematoria (2003, 2004)
Latest mercury emission data from E-PRTR (2007, 2008, 2009)183
181
Concorde/EEB (2007) Mercury in dental use: environmental implications for the EU. Available from:
http://www.zeromercury.org/index.php?option=com_phocadownload&view=file&id=17%3Amercury-in-dental-useenvironmental-implications-for-the-european-union-&Itemid=70
182
http://www.zeromercury.org/phocadownload/Developments_at_EU_level/Dental_Conference_Report_May07.pdf
150 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
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Some waste data covering amalgam waste: data reported under the Basel
Convention (2004-2005-2006)184
OSPAR (2011) Overview assessment of implementation reports on OSPAR
Recommendation 2003/4 on controlling the dispersal of mercury from crematoria185.
Other data sources reviewed are mentioned in the following sections of this Annex.
Following a comprehensive review of existing literature on the topic, opportunities for updating
and complementing estimates developed in previous studies were identified. Hence, the data
collection and analysis tasks focused on data necessary to update and complement findings of
previous studies, taking into account the gaps mentioned in the 2008 SCHER opinion.
Following the review of publicly available information, tailored questionnaires were sent to
various types of stakeholders in order to fill the information gaps:
Environmental and health authorities within Member States
Industry stakeholders: dental associations, dental fillings suppliers, waste treatment
industry, crematoria businesses and water treatment industry
NGOs and academic experts.
In total, about 300 organisations/institutions were sent questionnaires and some follow-up
telephone calls were also made. To date, we have received:
Responses from environmental and/or health authorities from 20 Member
States186, with varying levels of detail
5 responses from national dental associations
2 responses from dental fillings suppliers
4 responses from cremation organisations
5 responses from water treatment organisations
4 responses from NGOs and academic experts.
In addition, several dental fillings manufacturers, national dental associations and researchers
were contacted by telephone to obtain additional information and a telephone interview was
also held with the Council of European Dentists (CED). Relevant findings extracted from previous
studies have been summarised and references are provided in order for readers to have access to
further details, the focus being placed on presenting updated and new information to inform
future policy decisions.
Further information and comments were provided by stakeholders during and after the
workshop held in March 2012.
183
European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (http://prtr.ec.europa.eu/PollutantReleases.aspx).
184
http://www.basel.int/natreporting/2005/compII/index.html
185
http://www.ospar.org/documents/dbase/publications/p00532_Rec_2003-4_Overview_report.pdf
186
AT, BE, BG, CZ, CY, DE, DK, EE, FI, FR, HU, IE, LT, LU, LV, MT, PL, SE, SI, SK, UK. In addition, RO and CY advised
that they were not able to provide any valuable information in relation to the study.
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One major challenge encountered is the general lack of reliable and up-to-date data on dental
amalgam use in many Member States. Stakeholders active at the EU level (CED, FIDE187,
ADDE188) advised that they do not hold data on dental amalgam use in the EU or on the size of
the EU market for dental amalgam.
C.2 – Overview of mercury flows associated with
dental amalgam
The main mercury flows investigated as part of this study are illustrated in Figure 12 below. As
shown below, this study mostly focuses on mercury releases associated with current and
historical mercury use in dentistry and the fate of mercury released by dental practices or by old
fillings. Upstream releases associated with the supply of mercury for dental amalgam preparation
have not been investigated in detail, considering that environmental issues related to these
upstream steps (mercury supply and trade, production of mercury for dental applications) are
less critical and better managed.
187
Federation of the European Dental Industry
188
Association of Dental Dealers in Europe
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Figure 12: Main mercury flows associated with dental amalgam use (t Hg/year)
To air: 2 t
Hg
accumulated
in people’s
mouths for 1015 years on
average
56 t
Hg
losses
during
dental
amalgam
lifetime
(~10 to 15
years on
average)
Use of amalgam in
dental practices
Carved
surplus
amalgam
Amalgam
fillings
removal
Quantities indicated in this diagram correspond to rough estimates
of average annual mercury flows at EU27 level
To air: 0.5 t
75 t
38 t
Surplus of
mixed amalgam
11 t
8t
To air: 6 t
To water: 1 t
To soil & gw: 8 t
To air: 3 t
To wastewater:
46 t
Chair side trap
(Vacuum filter)
(Amalgam separator)
13 t
Urban
WWTP
15 t
SEWAGE SLUDGE
To water: 1 t
30 t
Tooth
extraction /
lost teeth
11 t
2-3 t
36 t
SOLID WASTE
AND SLUDGE
HAZARDOUS
WASTE
Sequestered or
recycled: 36 t
NONHAZARDOUS
WASTE
To air: 4 t
To water: 1 t
To soil & gw: 8 t
13 t
3t
To air: 3 t
4t
Cremation
(Hg abatement device)
Amalgam fillings in
deceased people
4t
Amalgam
deterioration from
chewing, contact
with hot beverages
and corrosion
Burial
To soil & gw: 4 t
BIOMEDICAL
WASTE
To air: 0.5 t
To soil & gw: 0.5 t
Sequestered: 2 t
HAZARDOUS WASTE
Sequestered: 1 t
WWTP: wastewater treatment plant
gw: groundwater
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Mercury is consumed by dental practices in the form of pre-dosed capsules (containing
approximately 50% elemental mercury) or in the form of elemental mercury sachets that are
then mixed with alloy powder in a 1:1 ratio.
Mercury releases mainly occur during the following steps:
Use of new amalgam: carved surplus of triturated amalgam is generated during the
preparation of the amalgam while carved surplus of amalgam is generated during
the placement of the filling
Removal of old amalgam filling
Loss or extraction of teeth with amalgam fillings
Cremation/burial of people with amalgam fillings
Deterioration of amalgam fillings due to chewing, consumption of hot beverages
and corrosion (mercury ending up in human waste).
Most dental mercury waste results from the removal of previous fillings from patients’ teeth.
Together with waste from new fillings, removed teeth, etc., these dental wastes, in the form of
solid dental amalgam particles, typically follow several main paths. They may be captured by the
saliva pump (vacuum pump system) that leads to the general municipal wastewater system, they
may be collected for subsequent recycling or disposal, they may be placed in special containers
as medical waste, or they may be discarded in the waste bin as municipal waste181.
As shown in the above diagram, next to each dental chair most dental facilities have a basic
chairside filter (or trap) in the wastewater system to capture the larger amalgam particles, and
some have secondary vacuum filters just upstream of the vacuum pump. An increasing number
of clinics are also equipped with amalgam separators to capture dental amalgam particles.
Additional mercury releases to the wastewater occur as a result of amalgam deterioration due to
chewing, ingestion of hot beverages and corrosion (mercury excreted by humans), although
quantities of mercury released from these deterioration processes are supposed to be smaller
than those emitted by dental practices.
The main atmospheric emissions associated with the life cycle of dental amalgam occur during
the cremation of deceased persons with mercury fillings. Some air emissions may also occur at
dental practices during the handling and placement of amalgam and as a result of mercury
discharged to the wastewater.
Finally, direct mercury releases to soil and groundwater may occur due to the burial of deceased
persons with mercury fillings.
Further details on the main mercury flows are presented in the sections below.
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C.3 – Main data gaps to be addressed
As mentioned in the introduction, the most recent study which attempted to assess the
environmental impacts of dental amalgam use in the EU was carried out by the SCHER in
200848.The SCHER report used a number of previous studies on dental amalgam as a basis for
their estimates. A number of data gaps were identified, which prevented the SCHER from
conducting a comprehensive assessment of the environmental risks associated with dental
amalgam. The purpose of the present study is therefore to fill the data gaps related to the
estimation of mercury use, releases and fate. Additionally, because there are some expected
changes in the use and releases of dental mercury across Member States due to changing
behaviours, improved legal compliance or new policy initiatives, it was necessary to obtain up-todate information on some of these aspects.
Consequently, the main aspects which needed to be investigated in further detail in this study, at
Member State and EU level, are as follows:
Latest data and trends on dental mercury use
Latest data and trends on the percentage of dental practices equipped with amalgam
separators
Actual efficiency of amalgam separators
Treatment options for solid dental amalgam waste
Options for managing sewage sludge from urban wastewater treatment plants
(WWTPs), in particular agricultural spreading practices
Latest data and trends on mercury air emissions from crematoria.
Concerning the other aspects of the dental amalgam life cycle, estimates from previous studies
have been used, as long as they were considered to be based on reliable data and reasonable
assumptions.
C.4 – The human inventory of dental amalgam
The quantity of mercury contained in people’s mouths in the EU-27 was estimated to be over
1,000 tonnes in previous studies181. This is based on the assumption that three-quarters of the
EU population (500 million citizens) have an average of 3 g of mercury in their mouths, or that the
entire EU population has an average of 2.0-2.5 g of mercury in their mouths. Amounts of
mercury per citizen have been derived from figures previously estimated by several countries
(BE, DK, DE, FR, NL, NO, SE, CH, UK, USA).
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C.5 – Mercury use in dental practices
There are two main ways to prepare dental amalgam: by using pre-dosed capsules or by mixing
dental alloy and mercury purchased as separate products.
Plastic capsules contain two compartments, one with the alloy in the form of powder (alloy
containing silver, tin, copper and other trace metals) and one with pure elemental mercury (400800 mg in general, contained in a small plastic sachet called a ‘mercury spill’). The membrane
between the two compartments is broken during the process of mixing in a mechanical
amalgamator used by the dentist. By mixing the capsule, the sachet breaks and metallic mercury
reacts with the dental alloy to form dental amalgam, which can be used to treat a patient within
10-12 minutes. This system ensures the exact mixing ratio between mercury and the dental alloy
(1:1 in weight). Mercury spills present in the capsules are produced by specialised manufacturers
and are supplied to the producers of dental amalgam capsules.
Alternatively, dentists can buy dental alloy in powder (standard packing 50-1,000 g) and dental
metallic mercury (standard packing 100-1,000 g) as separate products. Metallic mercury is
purchased in the form of a ‘mercury spill’ (plastic sachet) and produced by specialised
manufacturers. A special mixer is then used by the dentist where both components are placed
into separate compartments with the exact alloy/mercury ratio. The reason why some dentists
still use this system is that buying alloy powder and mercury separately is cheaper than buying
the easy-to-use capsules.
Mercury use for dental amalgam preparation in the EU-27 is estimated to range between 55 and
95 t/year, based on the most recent data collected as part of this study (further details are
provided in the market review in Annex E). There is however significant uncertainty on this range
of values.
C.6 – Mercury releases from dental practices
C.6.1 – Mercury releases to water
The removal of old amalgam fillings is the main source of dental amalgam released to
wastewater via the clinic vacuum pump or similar systems. During the placement of new
amalgam fillings, there is also some surplus of amalgam that is discharged to wastewater.
The technical development of dental equipment with high-speed drills replacing more slowly
rotating drills in the last decades in technically advanced nations has increased mercury emitted
to air or released to water when removing or replacing amalgam fillings. This is caused by smaller
particles created by the high-speed drills. In addition, the higher speed results in higher
temperatures, increasing the emission rate. The temperature may to some extent be controlled
by cooling with e.g. water. However, this results in larger amounts of mercury in the water
leaving the clinic.
Mercury discharged in dental wastewater is present in many forms, including elemental mercury
bound to amalgam particulate, inorganic (ionic) mercury, elemental mercury, and organic
156 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
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mercury (monomethyl mercury (MeHg)); the vast majority (>99.6%) of dental mercury
discharges are in solid form (elemental mercury bound to amalgam particulate)189.
Out of the total amount of mercury used by dentists in EU-27 (~ 75 t/year on average), it is
generally assumed that approximately 56 t/year (i.e. 75%) end up in patients’ teeth while
19 t/year (i.e. 25%) is wasted.
From the amount of amalgam ending up in patients’ teeth, it has been previously estimated that
about 70% is used to replace previous amalgam fillings (i.e. ~ 39 t Hg/year) while 30% is used to
make new fillings (i.e. ~ 17 t Hg/year).
From the 19 t/year of wasted mercury, it can be estimated that approximately 11 t/year end up as
solid waste (surplus of mixed amalgam) while 8 t/year are discharged to the wastewater (carved
surplus of amalgam during placement) and 0.5 t/year is emitted to the air 190.
Since approximately 39 t/year of ‘new’ mercury are used to replace old fillings, it can be
estimated that the removal of old fillings releases almost the same amount of mercury
(estimated here at 38 t) which goes into the waste stream191. In total the mercury content
discharged to the wastewater comprises some 8 t of carved surplus amalgam plus some 38 t of
removed amalgam, totalling about 46 t/year of mercury.
In addition to releases from current dental restoration works, the past accumulation of mercury
in piping systems of the dental clinics over many years may constitute another source of
continuous releases to wastewater. The slow dissolution and re-release of this mercury may be
sufficient, even after dental clinic emissions have been greatly reduced, to exceed wastewater
discharge standards, and may serve as a long-term source of mercury to urban WWTPs181. For
example, large amounts of mercury were recovered (average 1.2 kg per clinic) during the
remediation of 37 abandoned dental clinics in Stockholm in 1993–2003192. Similar accumulations
were observed during more recent work in several Swedish dental clinics193.
Treatment devices in dental facilities
Most dental practices are equipped with chairside traps and vacuum filters able to capture a
fraction of the larger amalgam particles.
An increasing number of dental practices are also equipped with amalgam separators, the use of
which is necessary in order to segregate dental amalgam waste (considered as hazardous waste)
189
USEPA (2008) Health Services Industry Detailed Study – Dental amalgam
(http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/lawsguidance/cwa/304m/upload/2008_09_08_guide_304m_2008_hsi-dental200809.pdf)
190
Assumptions taken from the Concorde/EEB report (2007)
191
It is assumed that previous fillings contained slightly less mercury at the time of removal, assuming some of the
mercury has vaporised and the previous fillings were slightly smaller
192
Engman (2004) Kvicksilverförorening i avloppsrör i Lunds kommun. (Mercury contamination in wastewater pipes of
Lund municipality). MSc thesis. Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
193
Hylander LD, Lindvall A and Gahnberg L (2006) High mercury emissions from dental clinics despite amalgam
separators. Sci. Total Environ. 362:74-84
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Annex C - Life cycle of dental amalgam
from other types of waste, collect it separately for appropriate treatment and avoid its discharge
into from aqueous effluents, in accordance with EU waste legislation194.
According to a survey carried out by the Commission in 2005 and the COWI/Concorde study
(2008), no more than 30-40% of EU dental practices were equipped with amalgam separators in
2005 and the proportion of dental practices equipped with amalgam separators was much higher
in northern Member States than in southern and eastern Member States. According to the latest
survey by the Council of European Dentists (CED, 2010), 14 out of the 28 European countries
surveyed had 99% of dental practices equipped with amalgam separators, while in a further 5
countries 80 to 99% of practices were equipped. The survey did not however specify which
countries these values referred to, since it was anonymous (it was based on questionnaires sent
to national dental associations).
As part of the present study, information on possible legal requirements concerning amalgam
separators was obtained for 23 Member States (responses to the study questionnaires or data
obtained from other sources, see Annex H). Among these 23 Member States, amalgam
separators are required by law in 14 Member States (Figure 13). Usually, this requirement applies
to both new and existing practices and a 95% minimum efficiency is required. Some Member
States also impose Hg limit values in the effluent (usually between 0.005 and 0.03 mg Hg/l),
documented evidence of proper maintenance and/or periodic inspections by local authorities. In
some other Member States, amalgam separators are installed voluntarily under guidance
provided by the national authorities (e.g. IE, DK). All Member States that responded to the study
questionnaire reported that recently installed dental facilities are generally equipped with
amalgam separators regardless of whether there are legal requirements in place.
Figure 13: Requirements concerning installation of amalgam separators
16
14
Legal requirement to install amalgam separators
Number of MS
14
Amalgam separators recommended by national
authorities
No requirement to install amalgam separators
12
10
8
6
5
4
4
4
2
0
Legal requirement to install
Amalgam separators
No requirement to install
amalgam separators
recommended by national
amalgam separators
authorities
194
No information available
The Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC) does not prescribe specifically dental clinics to install dental amalgam
separators, however this is a means to comply with the ban on mixing hazardous waste.
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An estimate of the share of dental facilities equipped with amalgam separators is available for 16
Member States (see Table 15 below).
Table 15: Share of dental facilities equipped with dental amalgam separators
Share of dental facilities equipped with
amalgam separators
~100%
Member States
10 MS: AT, CZ, DK, FI, DE, LV, MT, PT, SE, UK
90-100%
5 MS: BE, CY, FR, IT, NL, SI
Unknown
11 MS: BG, EE, ES, GR, HU, IE, LT, LU, PL, RO, SK
Further details on the use of amalgam separators and the associated requirements are provided
in Annex H, with details on the data sources.
It is difficult to provide a reliable estimate of the average share of dental facilities equipped with
amalgam separators at EU27 level as information is still missing for Member States with large
population (e.g. Poland, Spain). However, if one assumes that, in the 11 Member States where no
data is available, only 20% of dental facilities are equipped with amalgam separators, the EU27
average would be in the order of 75% dental facilities equipped195. This result suggests that
there has been a significant increase in the proportion of dental facilities equipped with amalgam
separators since the 2005 EC survey. Apart from the new legislation adopted is some Member
States, this could also be explained by the fact that most new chairs on the market are equipped
with separators.
In terms of the level of maintenance of the existing separators, several Member States reported
that periodic inspections of the efficiency of equipment are undertaken by public authorities (CY,
DE (every 3-5 years), DK, IE, MT (every year), SE, SI). Reportedly, an inspection programme is
also being put in place in the UK.
Based on available information, the following assumptions have been made for the purposes of
this assessment:
95% of the mercury discharged to the vacuum pump system goes to chairside
filters (and vacuum pump filters, if present), while 5% goes directly to the
sewer (as most dental practices are equipped with chairside filters)
Chairside filters and vacuum pump filters together have an average mercury
removal efficiency of 45%196
195
This average has been weighted by the number of dentists per MS (assumed to be proportional to the number of
dental practices)
196
Assumption based on Concorde/EEB study (2007) and on a research article sent by the CED: Adegbembo et al.
(2002) The weight of wastes generated by removal of dental amalgam restorations and the concentration of mercury
in dental wastewater. J Can Dent Assoc; 68(9):553-8.
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From the mercury present in the outflow of chairside filters, 70% goes to an
amalgam separator while 25% goes directly to the sewer (assuming that, on
average, 75% dental practices are equipped with amalgam separators in the
EU)
Amalgam separators have an average mercury removal efficiency of 70%
(standard efficiency is usually higher, i.e. 95%, but actual efficiency is assumed
to be lower due to a lack of proper maintenance observed in many cases197)
Approximately 3 t Hg/year are released from filters/separators to the
atmosphere198.
With the above assumptions, it can be roughly estimated that 30 t Hg/year are captured in filters
and separators and potentially collected as solid waste, while 13 t Hg/year remain in the
wastewater stream and enter urban WWTPs.
With regard to mercury concentration in the effluents, the SCHER report (2008) 48 used
information from Swedish studies (Hylander 2006)199,200 and a US study (Stone 2003)201 to
estimate releases of mercury to the wastewater system, in ‘best case’ conditions (properly
operating separators) and ‘worst-case’ conditions (inefficiently working separators or no
separator use): Hg concentration in the WWTP inflow due to dental practices was estimated to
be in the range of 3.5 to 918 µg Hg/l with an average value of 159 µg/l.
C.6.2 – Mercury in solid waste
Solid mercury-containing waste generated by dental practices includes:
Surplus amalgam from the preparation phase, which is directly discarded as waste
(estimated above at approximately 11 t/year)
Dental amalgam sludge recovered from the cleaning of chairside traps, vacuum filters
and possible amalgam separators (estimated above at approximately 30 t/year), as
well as from the cleaning of wastewater piping, during any maintenance activities
Lost and extracted teeth, which are directly discarded as waste (estimated at
approximately 11 t/year by a previous study181).
This represents a total of approximately 52 t Hg/year present in solid waste streams from
dental facilities.
197
See e.g. Hylander LD, Lindvall A and Gahnberg L (2006) High mercury emissions from dental clinics despite
amalgam separators. Sci. Total Environ. 362:74-84
198
4 t/year were estimated by Concorde/EEB in 2007, but this was in relation to a higher dental amalgam use (125 t
Hg/y)
199
Hylander LD, Lindvall A and Gahnberg L (2006) High mercury emissions from dental clinics despite amalgam
separators. Sci. Total Environ. 362:74-84
200
Hylander, L. D., Lindvall, A., Uhrberg, R., Gahnberg, L., & Lindh, U. (2006). Mercury recovery in situ of four different
dental amalgam separators. Sci. Total Environ. 366:320– 336
201
ME Stone, ME Cohen, L Liang and P Pang (2003) Determination of methyl mercury in dental-unit wastewater,
Dental Materials 19, 675–679, Elsevier Ltd
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C.6.3 – Mercury releases to air
Air emissions from amalgam handling
Some air emissions may occur at dental practices during the handling of amalgam. This may
include releases from accidental mercury spills, malfunctioning amalgamators, leaky amalgam
capsules or malfunctioning bulk mercury dispensers, trituration, placement and condensation of
amalgam, polishing or removal of amalgam, vaporisation of mercury from contaminated
instruments, and open storage of amalgam scrap or used capsules202.
However, the increasing use of pre-dosed capsules contributes to reducing emissions occurring
during amalgam storage and preparation, and the exposure of dental personnel to these mercury
vapours.
The Concorde/EEB study (2007) estimated up to 1 t/year of dental mercury emissions to the air
for all of the EU-27, based on the assumption that occupational air concentrations of mercury
inside dental clinics average about 15-20 μg/m3 (derived from Echeverria et al. 1998)203. Given the
lower dental amalgam use estimated in the present study and the increasing use of capsules in
recent years, such air emission have been estimated at approximately 0.5 t Hg/year.
Air emissions from the wastewater system
Mercury vapours may be emitted from the dental clinic effluents passing through the vacuum
pump system. This system must be vented to the air, therefore mercury contained in the
effluents has the potential to vaporise and be released into the atmosphere outside the dental
clinic or into the sewer system, depending on the type of equipment used. Research carried out
in the US in 1996204 measured mercury releases from the wastewater system per dentist at about
60 mg/day. This value was extrapolated to EU27 by Concorde/EEB (2007), suggesting air releases
in the order of 4 t/year. Given the lower dental amalgam use estimated in the present study, such
air emission releases have been estimated at approximately 3 t/year.
202
JADA (2003) ‘Dental mercury hygiene recommendations,’ ADA Council on Scientific Affairs, American Dental
Association, Journal of the American Dental Association Vol. 134, November 2003 (as cited by Concorde/EEB)
203
D Echeverria, HV Aposhian, JS Woods, NJ Heyer, MM Aposhian, AC Bittner, Jr., RK Mahurin, and M Cianciola (1998)
Neurobehavioral effects from exposure to dental amalgam Hgo: new distinctions between recent exposure and Hg
body burden. The FASEB Journal Vol. 12 pp971-980
204
PG Rubin and M-H Yu (1196) Mercury Vapor in Amalgam Waste Discharged from Dental Office Vacuum Units,
Archives of Environmental Health Vol51 No.4, pp335-337
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C.7 – Mercury releases associated with solid waste
from dental practices
In accordance with the EU waste legislation205, mercury-containing solid waste and sludge from
dental clinics are considered as hazardous waste (EU waste code 18 01 10206). Such waste is to be
collected separately from non-hazardous waste and treated in specific facilities dedicated to
hazardous waste.
In practice, even if the situation is improving, previous surveys have shown that not all dental
clinics manage the waste in compliance with the legislation, i.e. it is sometimes mixed with
municipal waste and/or with medical waste. For example, a study in Greece reported that dental
wastes were not managed properly by 80% of dentists in the Thessaloniki municipality in 2006207.
While mercury emissions from hazardous waste treatment operations can be considered as
negligible (since such treatment operations are designed for hazardous compounds like
mercury), inadequate treatment of mercury-containing waste with non-hazardous waste or with
medical waste may generate significant mercury emissions to air, water and soil/groundwater, as
explained below.
A French study208 estimated that, in 2005, a dental chair in France generated in the order of:
1 kg/year of wet sludge from amalgam separators with an average Hg content of 6%; 0.1 to
0.2 kg/year of dry solid waste (surplus mixed amalgam from preparation phase, assumed to
contain 50% Hg); and some packaging waste that is mostly empty (1 to 1.5 kg/year of empty predosed capsules).
There are no publicly available statistics on EU waste production for the waste code 18.01.10
(‘dental amalgam waste’). Latest data available on dental amalgam waste production and
treatment is provided in Annex I. Quantities of mercury contained in dental amalgam waste
produced by the 17 Member States for which data is available amount to approximately 38 to 48 t
Hg/year, with a high uncertainty on this range of values given the different information sources
and the different methodologies used to estimate the mercury content of amalgam waste. This
sample of Member States is not representative enough of the EU situation to allow an
extrapolation for EU27. The estimate developed through the mass balance (i.e. 52 t Hg/year) is
considered to be more reliable than an extrapolation of reported waste data; it is therefore used
in the rest of this study.
205
Directive 2008/98/EC of 19 November 2008 on waste and repealing certain Directives
206
Commission Decision of 3 May 2000 establishing a list of wastes, as amended
207
Kontogianni S, Xirogiannopoulou A and Karagiannidis A(2008). Investigating solid waste production and associated
management practices in private dental units. Waste Management 28: 1441-1448
208
ASTEEE (2005) Vers une meilleure gestion des déchets mercuriels d’amalgames dentaires
(http://www.astee.org/conferences/2005_paris/diaporamas/40.pdf)
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The following assumptions are made in this study with regard to the destinations of dental
amalgam waste:
Surplus amalgam from the preparation phase: 70% managed as hazardous waste and
30% as non-hazardous waste (i.e. collected in mixture with general municipal waste);
Dental amalgam sludge recovered from the cleaning of chairside traps, vacuum filters
and possible amalgam separators: 80% managed as hazardous waste and 20% as nonhazardous waste;
Lost and extracted teeth: 40% managed as hazardous waste, 30% as biomedical
waste and 30% as non-hazardous waste209.
With the above assumptions, it can be estimated that, out of the 52 t Hg/y of waste produced,
around 36 t/y (i.e. 69%) are managed as hazardous waste, 3 t/y (i.e. 7%) as biomedical waste and
13 t/y (i.e. 24%) as non-hazardous waste (i.e. mixed with municipal waste).
Waste managed as hazardous waste
Treatment options for mercury-containing waste mainly include recycling or landfilling in storage
facilities for hazardous waste, and possibly also incineration.
In the case of mercury recycling (to recover elemental mercury), typical mercury recovery
efficiency is around 99% according to the Waste Treatment Industries BREF document210. The
remaining 1% mercury is mostly released to the air, while smaller amounts may be found in
treatment residues, filters from flue gas cleaning, etc.
In the case of landfilling as hazardous waste (above or underground storage), environmental
emissions of mercury are considered to be negligible as storage facilities are designed to be
sealed and to minimise releases to the environment.
In the case of incineration as hazardous waste, environmental emissions of mercury can also be
considered as negligible. According to the Waste Incineration BREF document211, in a typical
hazardous waste incinerator, 99.88 % of Hg present in hazardous waste is captured in solid
residues for disposal.
Waste managed as municipal waste (non-hazardous waste)
At EU level, treatment methods for municipal waste include landfilling (for 38% of municipal
waste produced in 2009), incineration (20%), recycling (24%) and other methods including
composting (18%)212.
In the case of dental waste, these may be either landfilled or incinerated. Considering the above
statistics, one can roughly assume that 70% of dental wastes ending up in the municipal waste
stream are landfilled and 30% incinerated.
209
Assumption taken from Concorde/EEB study (2007)
210
EC (2006) Reference Document on Best Available Techniques for the Waste Treatment Industries, Chap. 4.3.3.3
211
EC (2006) IPPC - Reference Document on the Best Available Techniques for Waste incineration. Table 3.2
(http://eippcb.jrc.es/reference/)
212
Sources: Eurostat, 2009 data ; EC (2010) Environmental statistics and accounts in Europe – 2010 edition (p. 121)
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 163
Annex C - Life cycle of dental amalgam
A French study213 estimated that, in a typical municipal waste incinerator, 7 to 10% of the
mercury contained in waste is emitted to the atmosphere. A large part of the mercury (around
90%) remains in the slag or is captured by the flue gas cleaning systems (e.g. electrostatic filter,
scrubber). The study estimated that the fraction discharged to water was very small (0.5-1%).
Flue gas cleaning residues are usually stabilised and sent to hazardous waste landfills; short-term
emissions from stabilised residues in such landfills are avoided, however there is limited
knowledge on the behaviour of these residues over a long timeframe (several hundreds or
thousands of years)214. Slag may be sent to landfills for hazardous or non-hazardous waste, and
possibly also used for road backfilling works, leading to further possible emissions to water and
soil. Values derived from this French study are given here as an example, which may not be
representative of the whole EU (in some Member States, the proportion of mercury emitted to
air from non-hazardous waste incinerators may be higher).
With regard to dental mercury-containing waste sent to municipal waste landfills, its behaviour is
difficult to predict as it is very much dependent on the storage conditions. Mercury emissions to
air, surface water, soil and groundwater may occur, as these landfills are not designed for the
storage of such hazardous waste.
According to Concorde/EEB181, a rough estimate of mercury emissions to the different
environmental compartments arising from the presence of dental mercury in the municipal
waste stream can be given as follows: 30% of mercury in waste emitted to the atmosphere; 10%
emitted to surface water and 60% emitted to soil and groundwater. The same allocation rule has
been used in the present study, in the absence of more accurate and up-to-date information.
Waste managed as medical waste
A survey in the USA in 2000 discovered that 25-30% of dentists disposed of much of their dental
amalgam waste as medical waste due to the potential presence of pathogens215. Typically,
medical waste is disposed of by incineration, or sometimes by a sterilisation process known as
‘autoclaving’ (common in Ireland, for example). Medical waste incinerators are now supposed to
operate according to EU regulations limiting emissions of mercury, although autoclaving remains
less regulated and could result in mercury vapour releases, discharge of effluents to the
wastewater system and/or eventual landfilling of autoclaved waste216. The Concorde/EEB study
roughly estimated mercury emissions to the different environmental compartments arising from
the presence of dental mercury in the biomedical waste stream, as follows181: 25% of mercury in
waste emitted to the atmosphere; 5% emitted to surface water and 20% emitted to soil and
groundwater; the remaining 50% are considered to be sequestered and no longer bioavailable
(because handled as hazardous waste). The same allocation rule has been used in the present
study, in the absence of more accurate and up-to-date information.
213
AGHTM (2000) Rapport de synthèse des travaux du groupe de travail « Déchets mercuriels en France »
214
COWI/Concorde (2002) Heavy metals in waste – Report for the European Commission (DG ENV)
215
KCDNR (2000) – ‘Management of Hazardous Dental Wastes in King County, 1991 – 2000,’ King County Department
of Natural Resources, Hazardous Waste Management Program, Water and Land Resources Division, Washington
State, USA
216
HCWH (2002) – ‘Stericycle: Living Up To Its Mission? An Environmental Health Assessment of the Nation’s Largest
Medical Waste Company’ Health Care Without Harm
164 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
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C.8 – Mercury emissions from urban wastewater
treatment plants
Most dental practices are connected to the municipal wastewater system, therefore mercury
present in the dental effluents ends up in urban WWTPs. The quantity of mercury entering
urban WWTPs was estimated above at approximately 13 t Hg/year.
In addition to mercury discharges from dental practices, the deterioration of mercury fillings in
people’s mouths – due to chewing and consumption of hot beverages – also contributes to the
mercury load received by WWTPs. This contribution was estimated at 2-3 t Hg/year by
Concorde/EEB181, which is also the value used in the present study. As an example, for the city of
Stockholm only, this mercury load was estimated in 2008 at 13-14 kg per year, which is about
40% of the total load entering the WWTP217. A previous study conducted on a sample of Swedish
individuals in 1994 showed that the amounts of mercury excreted by each individual were
comprised between 1.4 and as much as 209 µg Hg/day (median value of 62 µg Hg/day) and were
correlated to the number of amalgam surfaces in the mouths218; extrapolating these values to the
EU27 population gives a range of 0.3 to 38 t Hg/year (median of 11 t Hg/year) excreted by
individuals and released to sewers, however it is unknown which exact proportion of this mercury
is due to dental amalgam (the other main factor being the consumption of contaminated fish).
C.8.1 – Efficiency of treatment
Urban WWTPs are not specifically designed to capture mercury or other heavy metals. If mercury
solids enter a treatment plant, they eventually wind up in the grit (the initial coarse screen/filter
on incoming wastewater) and/or the sludge/biosolids. Treatment plant grit is typically landfilled,
leading to possible problems with leaching and/or volatilization. Sludge is often incinerated,
landfilled or applied to land as fertilizer or compost.
Mercury removal efficiencies of municipal WWTPs are usually higher than 95% (i.e. more than
95% of Hg is captured in the sewage sludge while less than 5% remains in the water)219. Applying
this 95% efficiency ratio to the estimated mercury inflow (i.e. 16 t Hg/y), it can be roughly
estimated that 15 t Hg/year are captured by the sewage sludge and 1 t Hg/year is found in the
WWTP effluent discharged to surface water.
According to the latest data from the European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (EPRTR)220, urban WWTPs released 2.5 t Hg to surface water, 0.21 t Hg to the soil (via
217
Response from the Swedish Chemicals Agency to the Consultation on SCHER preliminary report on ‘The
environmental risk and indirect health effects of mercury in dental amalgam’
(http://europaem.eu/politics/Response_Swedish_Chemical_Agency.pdf)
218
Skare I et al. (1994) Human Exposure to Mercury and Silver Released from Dental Amalgam Restorations. Archives
of environmental health, 49: 384–394
219
Balogh S and Nollet Y (2008). Mercury mass balance at a wastewater treatment plant employing sludge incineration
with offgas mercury control. Science of the total environment 389: 125-131.
220
European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (http://prtr.ec.europa.eu/PollutantReleases.aspx).Data reported
under the E-PRTR covers industrial facilities (including urban WWTPs) with individual Hg water releases above certain
thresholds: 10kg/year for Hg releases to air; 1 kg/year for Hg releases to water and 1 Hg kg/year for releases to soil.
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 165
Annex C - Life cycle of dental amalgam
agricultural spreading of sewage sludge) and 0.04 t Hg to the air in 2009. These should be
considered as minimum values, as not all urban WWTPs may have been reporting data and data
are only reported if above certain thresholds221. As a comparison, another information source
estimated at 6 t the amount of mercury released to surface water from EU urban WWTPs in
2005222.
Not all the mercury released by urban WWTPs comes from dental amalgam use: a study from
1996 estimated the contribution of dental clinics to total Hg load entering WWTPs at 13 to
78%223; more recent studies in the USA estimated the contribution of dental clinics to be around
50% 224,225.
In 2008, the SCHER48 estimated the concentration of mercury in sludge as a consequence of
releases from dental clinics ranged between 0.001 and 2.4 mg Hg/kg in dry weight with an
average value of 0.42 mg/kg in dry weight226. Considering an average Hg concentration in sludge
of 1.5 mg Hg/kg in the EU227, the SCHER suggested that the contribution of dental clinics
represented about one third of the Hg total releases to the terrestrial compartment. However, in
certain Member States such as Sweden, the use of mercury in dental amalgam has been
identified as the single largest source of mercury in sewage sludge.
The sludge can be managed in several different ways, as described below. In most cases, sludge
management operations will only result in mercury being moved from one environmental
medium to another and will not enable mercury to be sequestered for long-term.
C.8.2 – Releases from sewage sludge management
Different options exist for the management of urban sewage sludge, in particular agricultural use
as fertilizer, incineration (either in dedicated facilities within WWTPs or in large coal combustion
plants), digestion (to produce biogas) or landfilling.
According to a study by Pancon (2009)228, EU sewage sludge is managed as follows: 45% is used
for agriculture, 23% is incinerated, 18% is disposed of in the sea, 7% is landfilled and 7% is
disposed of in other ways. However, sludge management options vary widely across Member
221
Available data comes from 221 facilities across the EU and the reporting thresholds for Hg are 10 kg/year for
releases to the air, 1 kg/year for releases to water and 1 kg/year for releases to the soil.
222
Sundseth K, Pacyna JM, Pacyna EG, Panasiuk D (2011) Substance flow analysis of mercury affecting water quality in
the EU. Water Air Soil Pollut. 223: 429-442
223
Arenholt-Bindslev D and Larsen AH (1996). Hg levels and discharge in waste water from dental clinics. Water, Air
Soil Pollut. 86: 93–99 (as cited by Concorde/EEB)
224
ADA (2003) – Draft ADA Assessment of Mercury in the Form of Amalgam in Dental Wastewater in the United
States, Environ report to the American Dental Association (as cited by Concorde/EEB)
225
CCCSD (2006) – Dental Offices and Mercury Pollution, Central Contra Costa Sanitary District, Contra Costa,
California, USA (as cited by Concorde/EEB)
226
Taking a default average production of 0.071 kg of sludge per person per day at the WWTP
227
EC 2004 web site: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/mercury/summary of_legislation.pdf
228
Pancon (2009) The EU sludge management (http://140.115.123.119/980626/sppt/2.pdf)
166 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
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States (see Annex J). Another recent study by Milieu229 projected the following management
options for 2010 and 2020 under a business as usual scenario:
Table 16: Projections on sewage sludge management options in EU27 (in % of total sludge
produced)
Year
Agricultural use
Incineration
Landfill
Other
2010
42%
27%
14%
16%
2020
44%
32%
7%
16%
According to the above projections, in a business as usual scenario the overall proportion of
treated sludge recycled to agriculture across the EU will remain more or less the same up to 2020
while the share sent to incineration will rise slightly and the share going to landfills will be halved
(due to EU legislation restricting organic waste going to landfill as well as public disapproval).
Agricultural use of sludge
In some Member States, a significant proportion of sewage sludge appears to be used for
agricultural purposes, e.g. Bulgaria (56% of total sludge produced in 2009), Czech Republic (47%
in 2008), Denmark (59% in 2007), Ireland (69% in 2007), Spain (83% in 2009), France (47% in
2008), Cyprus (50% in 2007), Lithuania (61% in 2009), Luxembourg (56% in 2008), Hungary (57%
in 2007) or Portugal (87% in 2007) (for further details, please see Annex J).
The presence of mercury in sewage sludge can make it more difficult to use it as agricultural
fertilizer. This option has been less and less favoured by operators of WWTPs, due to the
presence of various potential contaminants – mercury among others. However, the wastewater
treatment organisations consulted during this study did not report that mercury was a significant
limiting factor in itself for the agricultural use of sewage sludge.
According to a recent report for the EC (Milieu 2010)230, the mercury content of sewage sludge
recycled to agriculture ranges from 0.2 to 4.6 mg/kg dry matter; the highest concentrations
being observed in Poland (4.6 mg/kg), Latvia (4.2 mg/kg), Cyprus (3.1 mg/kg) and Slovakia
(2.7 mg/kg) (see further data in Annex K). Another report mentions average mercury contents
between 0.3 and 3 mg/kg dry matter across the Member States (Pancon 2009)231.
In Sweden, the phase-out of mercury use, the installation of amalgam separators in all dental
clinics and the cleansing projects of mercury contaminated sewer pipes from dental clinics had
led to a significant decrease in the mercury content of sewage sludge from approximately
1.1 mg/kg in 1995 to 0.6 mg/kg in 2008232.
229
Milieu, WRC, RPA (2010) Environmental, economic and social impacts of the use of sewage sludge on land – Report
for the EC, Part 1
230
Milieu, WRC, RPA (2010) Environmental, economic and social impacts of the use of sewage sludge on land – Report
for the EC, Part 2 (http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/sludge/pdf/part_ii_report.pdf)
231
EC (2001) Disposal and recycling routes for sewage sludge – Scientific and technical report
(http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/sludge/sludge_disposal.htm)
232
Information provided by Sweden via the study questionnaire
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In 1999, the average mercury content of sludge spread on EU agriculture soils was estimated at
1.5 mg/kg of dry matter, implying the introduction of 4.3 t Hg to EU agricultural land annually
(European Commission 2004)233. A new calculation based on more recent data shows that this
mercury amount has remained stable (approximately 4.4 t Hg/year as estimated in Annex K).
Once the sludge is spread onto the soil, mercury present in the sludge may partly volatilise (some
30 to 60% of the mercury added to the soil, occurring in open field conditions)234. It may also be
captured by the vegetation grown on the soil, immobilised in the soil or drained by surface
runoff.
Sludge is regulated by Directive 86/278/EEC of June 1986, which dictates that Member States
must prohibit the application of sewage sludge to soil where the concentration of one or more
metals in the soil exceeds certain limit values. For mercury, the limit value in soil is 1 to 1.5 mg/kg
of dry matter for spreading on soils with a pH higher than 6 and lower than 7. Member States
must also regulate the use of sludge such that the accumulation of heavy metals in soil does not
exceed the limit values; they can do this in one of two ways: a) by laying down the maximum
quantities of sludge which may be applied per unit of area per year while observing limit values
for heavy metal concentration in sludge – for mercury this limit value is 16 to 25 mg/kg of dry
matter; or b) by observing the limit values for the quantities of metals introduced into the soil per
unit of area and unit of time – for mercury this limit value is 0.1 kg/ha/yr.
Directive 86/278/EEC is currently under review and a study was carried out to analyse the impacts
of several policy options to modify legislation on sewage sludge (Milieu 2010)235. Some of the
options investigated by the study involve lowering the limit value for heavy metals in sludge used
for agricultural purposes; for mercury, the proposed new limit values would be 10 or even
5 mg/kg of dry matter. In practice, several Member States have already implemented stricter
limit values for mercury in sludge, for precautionary reasons. For the other Member States,
considering the respective mercury contents of sludge currently used for agricultural purposes
(0.2-4.6 mg/kg in dry weight, as presented above), the implementation of a lower limit value
would not be a problem in most cases.
Sludge incineration
The incineration of sewage sludge is becoming more widespread in the EU. Mercury present in
sludge is partly captured by flue gas cleaning devices (depending on the abatement devices in
place), the remainder being discharged to the atmosphere. Part of the mercury may be captured
by conventional multi-pollutant abatement devices (e.g. dust filters, scrubbers), with varying
efficiencies with regard to mercury removal. In order to improve the capture of mercury – among
other micro-pollutants – some WWTPs have invested in activated carbon filters. For example,
one large WWTP in Bilbao, Spain, reported that they recently invested in two activated carbon
filters (4.3 million EUR investment) and two mercury emissions analysers (140 kEUR
233
EC (2004) EU Legislation and Policy Relating to Mercury and its Compounds. Working Document of the European
Commission, DG Environment. Prepared to inform the development of an EU strategy on mercury.
234
EC (2001) Disposal and recycling routes for sewage sludge – Scientific and technical report
(http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/sludge/sludge_disposal.htm)
235
Milieu, WRC, RPA (2010) Environmental, economic and social impacts of the use of sewage sludge on land – Report
for the EC (http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/sludge/pdf/part_ii_report.pdf)
168 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
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investment)236; it is however not clear whether the Bilbao example should be regarded as best
practice or as a common feature of many WWTPs in the EU.
As an example, a mercury mass balance was performed in 2007 by Balogh and Nollet237 at a large
metropolitan WWTP employing sludge incineration, which had been recently upgraded to
provide for greater mercury control. The upgrade included a new fluidized bed sludge
incineration facility equipped with activated carbon addition and baghouse carbon capture for
the removal of mercury from the incinerator offgas. The results showed that mercury discharges
to air from the plant represented less than 5% of the mass of mercury entering the plant, while
the remaining mercury was captured in the ash/carbon residual stream exiting the new
incineration process. It should be noted that such an example represents best practice rather
than the average EU situation.
Solid residues from WWTP incinerators generally follow the same disposal routes as residues
from non-hazardous waste incinerators (see Section C.7).
Sludge landfilling
Landfill disposal of sludge has been the most widely used and lowest cost method of sludge
disposal in Europe, but it is now widely recognised as being an unsustainable outlet due to
concerns over pollution, loss of recyclable materials and loss of void for those wastes which
cannot be recycled. The EC Landfill Directive (1999/31/EC) requires all Member States to develop
national strategies to reduce biodegradable wastes going to landfill. In fact, a number of Member
States have already introduced such measures, which when fully implemented in the next few
years will effectively ban the disposal of sludge in landfill, unless it is as ash.
The behaviour of mercury contained in sludge going to landfill is difficult to predict as it is very
much dependent on the storage conditions. Mercury emissions to air, surface water, soil and
groundwater may occur, as these landfills are not designed for the storage of mercury-containing
waste.
C.8.3 – Overall environmental releases from wastewater
treatment and sludge management
According to Concorde/EEB181, a rough estimate of mercury emissions to the different
environmental compartments arising from the presence of dental mercury in the inflow of
WWTP can be given as follows: 10% of mercury entering urban WWTPs is finally released to the
air, 40% to surface water and 50% to soil and groundwater; none of this mercury can be
considered as being sequestered for long-term. The same allocation rule has been used in the
present study, in the absence of more accurate and up-to-date information.
236
Information provided by the Bilbao wastewater treatment company via the study questionnaire
237
Balogh, S. J., & Nollet, Y. H. (2008) Mercury mass balance at a wastewater treatment plant employing sludge
incineration with off gas mercury control. Science of the Total Environment, 389, 125–131
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 169
Annex C - Life cycle of dental amalgam
C.9 – Mercury emissions from crematoria
C.9.1 – Estimates of atmospheric mercury releases
According to previous studies, cremation represents a significant contribution to mercury air
emissions associated with the life cycle of dental amalgam.
The Extended Impact Assessment (ExIA) of the EU Mercury Strategy provided an estimate of EU
mercury emissions cremation in the order of 2 to 2.3 t Hg/year in 2002. The ExIA commented that
‘although cremation is not an especially large source of emissions in relative terms, it is significant in
some countries, and unlike the main industrial emissions it is not subject to any EU legislation’; it
was furthermore stated that ‘mercury fillings are the larger reservoir of mercury in society behind
the chlor-alkali industry, highlighting the possibility of significant total emissions over a period of
many years’. The Concorde/EEB report provided an estimate of 4.5 t Hg/year in 2004 on the basis
of information from the Cremation Society of Great Britain238. A report by AMAP/UNEP provided
an estimate of 3.5 t in 2005, noting the high uncertainty associated with this figure239.
Mercury emissions from this sector are not covered by current EU legislation but they are
regulated in several Member States (Emission Limit Values (ELVs) for mercury and/or
requirement for mercury abatement devices). In addition, Parties to the OSPAR Convention,
which include twelve Member States, have proposed using Best Available Techniques to reduce
mercury air emissions (OSPAR Recommendation 2003/4, as amended). Parties to the HELCOM
Convention have also proposed to apply ELVs for mercury emissions from crematoria (HELCOM
Recommendation 29/1). A summary of existing legislation in Member States is provided in
Annex B.
Policy options to reduce mercury emissions from crematoria were investigated in the ExIA of the
Mercury Strategy in 2005. It was concluded that Community-level action was not appropriate at
that stage, mainly because such emissions were covered by an OSPAR Recommendation and by
legislation in some of the remaining Member States that are not parties to the OSPAR
Convention. The ExIA also noted that available data on the extent of emissions from cremation
were limited and that future reporting required by the OSPAR Recommendation would provide
an initial indication of the extent to which the Recommendation is being applied.
As part of this study, the following new data has been reviewed:
Latest emission data reported under the OSPAR Recommendation 2003/4
(overview report issued in August 2011)240
Data provided by the stakeholders contacted for this study (replies to the
questionnaires)
Latest cremation statistics241.
238
Cremation Society of Great Britain, 2004 statistics
239
AMAP/UNEP (2008) Technical background report to the global atmosphere mercury assessment
240
OSPAR (2011) Overview assessment of implementation reports on OSPAR Recommendation 2003/4 on controlling
the dispersal of mercury from crematoria (http://www.ospar.org/documents/dbase/publications/p00532_Rec_20034_Overview_report.pdf)
170 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Annex C - Life cycle of dental amalgam
According to international cremation statistics242, the use of cremation has increased in EU
countries over the last few years: in 2009 approximately 51% of deceased persons were
cremated243 vs. approximately 42% in 2005244. Countries with the highest rates of cremations in
2009 were the Czech Republic (80%), Sweden (77%), Slovenia (75%) and the UK (73%). The use of
cremation has increased in all EU countries for which data is available, with significant increases
noted in some Member States such as Portugal (+13% between 2005 and 2009) or Slovenia
(+7.5%). In Poland, the rate of cremation is expected to double between 2006 (5%) and 2020
(10%)245. In Greece, Lithuania and Cyprus, there are no crematoria.
Recent estimates of mercury air emissions from crematoria in the Member States are presented
in Annex L, covering 25 Member States246. Some of these estimates correspond to data reported
under the OSPAR Convention while others were obtained through the study questionnaires or
were estimated by BIO using the most recent cremation statistics. In these 25 Member States,
there are about 2,700 crematoria. Based on data for 16 Member States, it can be estimated that
approximately 40% crematoria are equipped with mercury abatement devices, but this
proportion varies greatly across Member States as shown in Figure 14 below.
Figure 14: Share of crematoria equipped with mercury abatement devices in 16 MS247
100%
90%
80%
70%
60%
50%
40%
30%
20%
10%
0%
FI HU IE
PT ES FR PL AT UK IT
SE NL DE BE DK LU
It is difficult to know how EU emissions have evolved over the last few years, due to a lack of data
in a number of Member States. However, the following national trends can be noted based on
information reviewed to date:
241
Cremation Society of Great Britain (http://www.srgw.demon.co.uk/CremSoc4/Stats/index.html)
242
Cremation Society of Great Britain (http://www.srgw.demon.co.uk/CremSoc4/Stats/index.html)
243
Based on data from 14 MS
244
Based on data from 18 MS
245
NILU Polska (2010) Cost-benefit analysis of impact on human health and environment of mercury emission
reduction in Poland – Stage 1 (http://www.gios.gov.pl/zalaczniki/artykuly/etap1_20101022.pdf)
246
MS not included are BG, MT
247
CY, GR, LT: no crematoria. For other MS, no information is available on the share of crematoria equipped with Hg
abatement devices.
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Annex C - Life cycle of dental amalgam
UK: Reported emissions have more than doubled between 2002 (~400 kg) and 2010
(~940 kg)248. In 2004, the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
(DEFRA) estimated that the amount of mercury from cremations would increase in
the UK by two-thirds between 2000 and 2020, accounting for over 25% of the
national mercury emissions to the air in 2020, in the absence of further abatement
measures249.
France: Reported data shows an increase in emissions between 2002 (200 kg) and
2009 (307-407 kg)250.
Sweden: Although the number of crematoria applying mercury removal techniques
has increased between 2004 and 2009251, overall mercury emissions from crematoria
have increased during this time period (from 58 kg in 2004 to 114 kg in 2010), partly
due to a higher number of cremations occurring in crematoria not equipped with
abatement devices.
Netherlands: A significant decrease can be observed between 2002 (80 kg) and 2010
(33 kg)252, with an increasing share of crematoria equipped with mercury abatement
devices.
Germany: A decreasing trend is observed between 2002 (42-168 kg) and 2008
(39 kg)253, although there was significant uncertainty on the 2002 estimate.
Denmark: Emissions were estimated at 60 kg in 2002 and 70-104 kg in 2008254 but
are expected to have significantly decreased in 2011, as all crematoria are now fitted
with mercury abatement devices to comply with national legislation (compliance
deadline was January 2011).
Belgium: Between 2006 and 2009, mercury emissions have remained stable (while
the number of cremations has slightly increased both in crematoria with and without
mercury abatement).
For the 25 Member States for which data is available or could be estimated, it is roughly
estimated that total mercury air emissions are in the order of 2.8 t Hg/year255 (for the OSPAR
248
Sources: 2002 value from OSPAR overview report published in 2003; 2010 value provided by CAMEO (Crematoria
Abatement of Emissions Organisation) for this study. In addition, the value reported for 2009 was 730 kg (according to
OSPAR overview report published in 2011)
249
DEFRA (2004) Mercury emissions from crematoria. Second consultation on an assessment by the Environment
Agency’s Local Authority Unit
250
Source: OSPAR overview reports published in 2003 and 2011, respectively
251
2004 data for Sweden available here:
http://cdr.eionet.europa.eu/resultsdataflow?dataflow_uris=http%3A%2F%2Frod.eionet.eu.int%2Fobligations%2F492
&years%3Aint%3Aignore_empty=&partofyear=&country=&sort_on=reportingdate&sort_order=reverse; 2010 data
provided by KEMI as part of this study
252
Source: OSPAR overview reports published in 2003 and recent data provided by the Ministry of Environment for this
study
253
Source: OSPAR overview reports published in 2003 and 2011, respectively
254
Source: OSPAR overview reports published in 2003 and 2011, respectively
255
MS for which no estimates could be made, due to a lack of data, are: BG, MT
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Annex C - Life cycle of dental amalgam
Convention area alone, the 2011 OSPAR overview report provided a rough and provisional
estimate of between 1 and 2 t Hg/year). This should be considered only as a rough estimate, as
there is significant uncertainty on national mercury emission estimates. As mentioned by the
OSPAR overview report, several measurement/estimation methodologies are currently used and
the reliability of some these methodologies is questionable. In spite of some upwards trends
observed in some Member States, this result suggests that overall EU mercury emissions have
not increased since 2005. Estimated emissions per Member State are presented in Figure 15
below.
Figure 15: Estimated annual Hg emissions from crematoria in 25 MS
1,000
900
800
700
kg Hg/year
600
500
400
300
200
100
0
CY GR LT LU RO LV IE EE SI SK PT BE NL DE AT FI PL DK HU SE IT CZ FR ES UK
Data source: see Annex L.
The three Member States with the greatest emissions and showing significant increases in
emissions over the last few years are the UK, Spain and France. For the UK and France, more
stringent legislation has been implemented recently:
UK: Requirement for abatement to be fitted covering 50% of cremations by end
2012, plus all new crematoria to have abatement from 2005256.
France: A Ministerial Order from January 2010 introduced an emission limit value of
0.2 mg Hg/Nm3 applicable as of 2010 for new crematoriums and as of 2018 for
existing ones257.
No information is available on the actual or projected environmental impacts of the above
regulations, however it can be assumed that the more stringent legal requirements implemented
in these two countries would greatly contribute to stabilising emissions (or at least slowing down
emissions increase) within the OSPAR Convention Area, after 2020.
In spite of the decreasing emission trends that can be expected from these measures, there are
two main parameters that tend to counteract emission abatement efforts:
A growing trend towards the use of cremation (rather than burial), particularly
in big cities, as mentioned in the OSPAR report of 2011258. Crematoria
256
Environment Permitting Regulations 2007 (January 2005)
257
Ministerial Order of 28 January 2010 concerning emissions from crematoriums
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 173
Annex C - Life cycle of dental amalgam
companies who responded to the study questionnaire also reported upward
trends259.
An increasing proportion of deceased people having amalgam fillings.
C.9.2 – Mercury deposition from crematoria
Little data is currently available on the possible impacts resulting from mercury deposition
around crematoria. A study was conducted in the UK in 2008, on behalf of the UK Food
Standards Agency260, which demonstrated that, based on a highly conservative risk assessment,
the potential exposure of members of the public to mercury arising from crematoria stack
emissions via foodstuff consumption is almost certainly indistinguishable from the existing
background concentrations of mercury existing in the UK population diet. The study concluded
that there is no observed impact of mercury emissions from crematoria on human health via
foodstuff consumption.
C.10 – Mercury emissions from other sources
Emissions from people’s mouths
A rough estimate of around 2 t Hg/year exhaled by EU-27 citizens was given by a previous
study181.
Emissions from burial
The burial of deceased persons with mercury fillings eventually leads to mercury releases to the
soil and groundwater, however it is difficult to estimate the magnitude of such releases in the
absence of any data.
It is assumed that deceased persons have an average of 1.5 g Hg in the mouth (older people are
supposed to have slightly less mercury in their mouth than the average EU population, due to
fewer remaining teeth). Given the number of deceased persons in EU27 (approximately 4.9
million in 2010)261 and considering that about half are buried262, this corresponds to
approximately 3.7 t of Hg/year.
Considering that the other half of deceased people are subject to cremation, a similar amount of
mercury would be emitted from crematoria if there were no mercury abatement devices (the
258
OSPAR (2011) Overview assessment of implementation reports on OSPAR Recommendation 2003/4 on controlling
the dispersal of mercury from crematoria
259
In Italy, the Federal Utility company estimated an increase by about 4,000 to 5,000 cremations per year in the next 5
years. In Portugal, the national funerals association estimated an increase from 14 crematoria and 8,752 cremations in
2010 to approximately 25 crematoria and 15,000 cremations/year in 2016. In the Netherlands, a slight increase in the
number of cremations, in the order of 0.5% per year, is expected by the Facultatieve Technologies group.
260
Michael D. Wood, Adrian Punt and Richard T. Leah (2008) Assessment of the mercury concentrations in soil and
vegetation, including crops, around crematoria to determine the impact of mercury emissions on food safety. Report
for the UK Food Standards Agency (http://foodbase.org.uk/admintools/reportdocuments/323-1574_C02070_27_april_09.pdf)
261
http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/statistics_explained/index.php?title=File:Number_of_deaths,_EU27,_(1)_(million).png&filetimestamp=20111018093516)
262
International cremation statistics 2009 (http://www.srgw.demon.co.uk/CremSoc5/Stats/Interntl/2009/StatsIF.html)
174 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Annex C - Life cycle of dental amalgam
total amount of mercury air emissions from crematoria, estimated using another methodology in
Section C.9.1, is of approximately 2.8 t Hg/year).
C.11 – Contribution to overall mercury releases
By summing up amounts of mercury released to air/water/soil as estimated in the previous
sections, it can be concluded that the current and historical use of dental amalgam leads to263:
~ 16 to 23 t Hg/year emitted to the air
~ 2 to 4 t Hg/year emitted to surface water
~ 16 to 24 t Hg/year emitted to the soil and groundwater
~ 31 to 46 t Hg/year sequestered for long-term or recycled.
The above estimates suggest that 34 to 50 t/year of mercury from current and historical use of
dental amalgam are emitted to the environment with some potential for becoming
bioavailable, while 31 to 46 t/year can be considered as being either sequestered for long-term
(i.e. no longer bioavailable) or recycled.
Once in the environment, changes in pH, oxygen availability, temperature, presence of other ions
and actions of abrasion and corrosion can allow the mercury in amalgam to be used by bacteria,
which are able to convert it to the more toxic organic methyl-mercury264,265. Organic mercury is
readily bioavailable and once entering the food web, it tends to accumulate in the organisms.
The organism concentrations of methyl mercury increases (biomagnifies) when passing the food
web to reach highest concentrations in top predators such as certain birds and piscivorous fishes,
being popular for human consumption266,267. Methylation to methylmercury already starts in the
wastewater before reaching its recipient268.
Mercury emission estimates from dental amalgam use can then be compared with available
estimates of overall mercury releases to air/water/soil in the EU, in order to assess the relative
contribution of dental mercury to the overall mercury problem in the EU. This comparison is
presented in Table 17 below. It is important to note that available estimates of overall mercury
releases to air/water/soil in the EU should be considered as low-end estimates, due to limitations
in the scope of Hg emissions covered (given the wide range of anthropogenic mercury emission
sources, some of the reported data only covers certain emission sources). Consequently,
263
The figures below take into account a +/-20% uncertainty range
264
Kao RT, Dault S and Pichay T (2004). Understanding the mercury reduction issue: the impact of mercury on the
environment and human health. J Calif Dent Assoc 32: 574–9.
265
Jones DW (2004). Putting dental mercury pollution into perspective. Br Dent J 197: 175–7.
266
UNEP (2002) Global mercury assessment report
267
Zhao X, Rockne KJ, Drummond JL, Hurley RK, Shade CW and Hudson RJM (2008) Characterization of Methyl
Mercury in Dental Wastewater and Correlation with Sulfate-Reducing Bacterial DNA. Environmental Science &
Technology 42: 2780 -2786
268
Zhao X, Rockne KJ, Drummond JL, Hurley RK, Shade CW and Hudson RJM (2008) Characterization of Methyl
Mercury in Dental Wastewater and Correlation with Sulfate-Reducing Bacterial DNA. Environmental Science &
Technology 42: 2780 -2786
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 175
Annex C - Life cycle of dental amalgam
estimates of dental amalgam use contribution to EU releases that are presented in the table
below may be over-estimated and should be considered as high-end estimates.
Table 17: Comparison between dental Hg release estimates and overall Hg releases in the EU
Environmental
media
Hg releases
from dental
amalgam use
(t/year) (1)
Available data on overall anthropogenic Hg
releases in the EU (t/year) (low-end
estimates)
EU report under UNECE Convention on LRTAP
(2): 73 t in 2009
Air
16 - 23
E-PRTR (3): 31.3 t in 2009 (only industrial
facilities). The main contribution is from coal
combustion plants (16.1 t, i.e. 51%)
Dental amalgam
use contribution to
EU releases (highend estimates)
Based on LRTAP
data:
21 - 32% (5)
Sunseth et al.(4): 105 t in 2005
Surface water
2-4
E-PRTR (6): 6.33 t in 2009 from industrial
facilities (including urban WWTPs contributing
2.52 t, i.e. 40%)
Sunseth et al. (4): 27 t in 2005 (urban WWTPs
estimated to contribute 6 t, i.e. 22%)
Soil and
groundwater
16 - 24
E-PRTR (8): 0.26 t in 2009 from industrial
facilities (including urban WWTPs contributing
0.213 t, i.e. 82%), however this value only
covers a very small proportion of overall Hg
releases to soil
Based on Sunseth et
al. data:
9 - 13% (7)
Not quantifiable
(1) Estimates developed in the present study include a +/- 20% uncertainty range.
(2) EEA (2011) European Union emission inventory report 1990–2009 under the UNECE Convention on Long-range
Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP), Table 2.13 (http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/eu-emission-inventoryreport-1990-2009). Covers a wide range of emission sources: energy production and distribution / energy use in
industry / industrial processes / solvent and product use / commercial, institutional and households (energy use) / road
transport / non-road transport / agriculture / waste management
(3) European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (http://prtr.ec.europa.eu/PollutantReleases.aspx). Covers
facilities releasing more than 10 kg/year of Hg to the air
(4) Sundseth K, Pacyna JM, Pacyna EG, Panasiuk D (2011) Substance flow analysis of mercury affecting water quality in
the EU. Water Air Soil Pollut. 223: 429-442. This study covers a much wider range of human activities in the EU than
the EPRTR.
(5) The LRTAP value is chosen to estimate this ratio, because it is the most recent value available for overall EU air
emissions from anthropogenic activities.
(6) European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (http://prtr.ec.europa.eu/PollutantReleases.aspx). Covers
facilities releasing more than 1 kg/year of Hg to water, hence the scope of the reported values is limited.
(7) The value from Sunseth et al. (2011) is chosen to estimate this ratio, because it covers a wider scope than the EPRTR value for direct mercury discharges to the aquatic environment.
(8) European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (http://prtr.ec.europa.eu/PollutantReleases.aspx). Covers
facilities releasing more than 1 kg/year of Hg to soil.
176 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Annex C - Life cycle of dental amalgam
The above comparison suggests that mercury emissions from the current and historical use of
dental amalgam, expressed in terms of total Hg concentrations, still represent a significant
contribution to overall EU mercury releases to air and surface water. Part of the mercury emitted
to the air may actually be deposited after some time, and may enter other environmental
compartments (surface water, soil and groundwater, vegetation). Contribution of dental
amalgam use to mercury releases to soil and groundwater is difficult to quantify in the absence of
any relevant data concerning total EU releases to soil and groundwater.
One important limitation to the assessment of environmental impacts from dental mercury is
that mercury uses and releases can only be estimated in terms of total elemental Hg loads, while
the actual environmental impacts depend on the mercury species involved and, in particular, the
quantities of bioavailable methylmercury released in the environment (methylmercury is one of
the most toxic forms of mercury, which also accumulates and biomagnifies in the food chain).
Because the mercury methylation and demethylation processes are not very well understood at
present, it is not possible to accurately model the possible biochemical transformations of
mercury originating from dental amalgam and its environmental impacts. However, the
comparison presented above shows that dental amalgam is a significant contributor to overall
anthropogenic mercury releases in the EU. According to calculations based on the critical load
concept (mainly based on ecotoxicological effects and human health effects via ecosystems),
more than 70% of the European ecosystem area is estimated to be at risk today due to mercury
levels, with critical loads for mercury exceeded in large parts of western, central and southern
Europe269. As a significant source of mercury in the environment, the current and historical use of
dental amalgam contributes to this environmental risk.
269
Hettelingh, J.P., J. Sliggers (eds.), M. van het Bolcher, H. Denier van der Gon, B.J.Groenenberg, I. Ilyin, G.J. Reinds,
J. Slootweg, O. Travnikov, A. Visschedijk, and W. de Vries (2006). Heavy Metal Emissions, Depositions, Critical Loads
and Exceedances in Europe. VROM-DGM report, www.mnp.nl/cce, 93 pp.; CEE Status Reports 2008 (Chapter 7,
http://www.rivm.nl/thema/images/CCE08_Chapter_7_tcm61-41910.pdf)
and
2010
(Chapter
8,
http://www.rivm.nl/thema/images/SR2010_Ch8_tcm61-49679.pdf)
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 177
Annex D – Literature review on health effects of dental amalgam
Annex D: Literature review on health effects
of using dental amalgam
The literature review presented in this annex aims to provide an overview of the ongoing
scientific debate on health aspects of using dental amalgam, focusing on the most recent
developments after the publication of the SCENIHR opinion in 2008 as well as previous
publications of interest not reviewed by the SCENIHR.
Publications of interest have been obtained using specialised databases and internet searches,
using the key words ‘dental’ and ‘mercury’ (in the text of the articles). Literature reviewed in this
study includes scientific literature (experimental work, patents, scientific reviews) as well as grey
literature.
INTRODUCTION
Dental amalgam has been used for over 150 years for the treatment of dental cavities and is still
used, in particular in large cavities due to its relatively good mechanical properties and durability
(even if those are not optimal when considering the associated risks of cracked teeth with large
fillings). Dental amalgam is a combination of alloy particles and mercury that contains about 50%
of mercury in the elemental form (SCENIHR, 2008270). It is estimated that several tens of tonnes
of mercury are placed in people’s mouths through amalgam worldwide (Enestrôm and Hultman,
1995271; Bates, 2006272).
Dental amalgam has been controversial ever since it was introduced, early in the nineteenth
century, because of its mercury content, and the controversy is still open (LSRO, 2004)273. Recent
evidence that small amounts of mercury are continuously released from amalgam fillings has
fuelled the controversy (Skare, 1995)274. According to Mutter (2011)275, dental amalgam is by far
the main source of human total mercury body burden; this is proven by autopsy studies which
found 2-12 times more mercury in body tissues of individuals with dental amalgam (results of
autopsy studies are considered more valuable for examining the amalgam-caused mercury body
burden than the analysis of mercury levels in urine and blood). Although there is some consensus
270
SCENIHR (2008) The safety of dental amalgam and alternative dental restoration materials for patients and users.
Available from: http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_risk/committees/04_scenihr/docs/scenihr_o_016.pdf
271
Enestrôm S and Hultman P (1995) Does amalgam affect the immune system? A controversial issue. Int. Arch.
Allergy Immunol. 106: 180–203.
272
Bates M (2006) Mercury amalgam dental fillings: An epidemiologic assessment. Int. J. Hyg. Environ.-Health 209:
309–316.
273
Life Sciences Research Organisation (LSRO) (2004) Review and analysis of the literature on the health effects of
dental amalgam – Executive summary (http://www.lsro.org/amalgam/frames_amalgam_report.html)
274
Skare I (1995) Mass Balance and Systemic Uptake of Mercury Released from Dental Amalgam Fillings. Water, Air
Soil Pollut. 80(1-4):59-67.
275
Mutter J (2011) Is dental amalgam safe for humans? The opinion of the scientific committee of the European
Commission. J Occup Med Toxicol. 2011; 6: 2 (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3025977/pdf/1745-66736-2.pdf)
178 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Annex D – Literature review on health effects of dental amalgam
on the fact that people with amalgam fillings are exposed to some mercury released from the
amalgam, the magnitude of this exposure is subject to controversy. A number of alternative
materials are available, although in most cases their safety has not yet been evaluated in a
comprehensive manner (Bates, 2006272).
HEALTH EFFECTS OF DENTAL AMALGAM
The main direct exposure pathway to inorganic Hg (acute exposure) in individuals having dental
amalgams occurs during the placement or removal of the amalgam276 (Clarkson, 2006)277. The
release rate of mercury vapour is dependent on several parameters, including: filling size, tooth
and surface placement, chewing, hot beverages, food texture, tooth grinding, and brushing
teeth, as well as the surface area, composition, and age of the amalgam (Bates, 2006272; Skare
and Engqvist 1994278). Moreover, mercury from amalgam may be transformed into organic
mercury compounds by microorganisms in the oral cavity and gastrointestinal tract (Björnberg et
al. 2006279; Leistevuo et al., 2001280; Heintze et al., 1983281; Yannai et al., 1991282).
The SCENIHR report stressed that Hg exposure of individuals having Hg fillings is between 5 and
30 times lower than limit values for occupational exposure (SCENIHR, 2008270). However, the
method used to determine this exposure – which is generally the concentration of mercury in
urine and blood – has been often criticized (Mutter et al., 2007; Mutter, 2011)283 (Richardson et
al., 2011)284. Some scientists have observed that mercury concentrations in blood and urine do
not adequately represent the mercury levels in body tissues. A number of experiments with
animals and humans showed that despite normal or low mercury levels in blood, hair, and urine,
high mercury levels were found in critical tissues like brain and kidney (Danscher et al., 1990 285;
276
The assessment for mercury (Hg) exposure is often based on blood and/or urinary concentration of Hg.
277
Clarkson TW and Magos L (2006). The toxicology of mercury and its chemical compounds. Crit. Rev. Toxicol. 36:
609– 662.
278
Skare, I and Engqvist, A (1994). Human exposure to mercury and silver released from dental amalgam restorations.
Arch. Environ. Health 49 (5): 384-394.
279
Björnberg KA, Vahter M, Englund GS (2006). Methylmercury, Amalgams, and Children’s Health: Björnberg et al.
Respond. Environ Health Perspect 114:A149-A150.
280
Leistevuo J, Leistevuo T, Helenius H, Pyy L, Österblad M, Huovinen P and Tenovuo J (2001). Dental amalgam fillings
and the amount of organic mercury in human saliva. Caries Res. 35: 163–166.
281
Heintze U, Edwardsson S, Derand T and Birkhed D (1983) Methylation of mercury from dental amalgam and
mercuric chloride by oral streptococci in vitro. Scand. J. Dent. Res. 91: 150– 152.
282
Yannai S, Berdicevsky I and Duek L (1991) Transformations of inorganic mercury by Candida albicans and
Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 57: 245–247.
283
Mutter J, Naumann J, and Guethlin C (2007). Comments on the Article ‘The Toxicology of Mercury and Its Chemical
Compounds’ (2006) by Clarkson and Magos. Critical Reviews in Toxicology 37: 537–549. Mutter J (2011). Is dental
amalgam safe for humans? The opinion of the scientific committee of the European Commission. Journal of
Occupational Medicine and Toxicology 2011, 6:2.
284
Richardson GM et al (2011) Mercury exposure and risks from dental amalgam in the US population, post-2000.
Science of The Total Environment. [Available online, not printed yet]
285
Danscher G, Hørsted-Bindsley P and Rungby J (1990) Traces of mercury in organs from primates with amalgam
fillings. Exp. Mol. Pathol. 52: 291–299.
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 179
Annex D – Literature review on health effects of dental amalgam
Drasch, 1997286; Hahn et al., 1989287, 1990; Hargeaves et al., 1988288; Holmes et al., 2003289;
Lorscheider et al., 1995290; Opitz et al., 1996291; Vimy et al., 1990292; Weiner and Nylander,
1993293).
Indirect exposure can occur once the mercury contained in amalgams is released into the
environment (e.g. the aquatic environment). Dental clinics reportedly contribute by 13 to 78% to
the total Hg load to local wastewater treatment facilities (Arenholt et al., 1996294). Some studies
in the US revealed that a dental clinic can generate up to 4.5 g of Hg waste per day, or
approximately 1 kg Hg per year on a per-chair basis (Drummond et al. 2003 a295 et b296).
In the environment, mercury from dental amalgam can be chemically transformed into
methylmercury (MeHg) by sulfate-reducing bacteria (Zhao et al, 2008297) . MeHg is the most toxic
form of mercury for living organisms, damaging the central nervous system. It may also cause
cardiovascular disease (Houston, 2011298), cancer and genotoxicity (UNEP, 2002299). Top
predators and humans are the most affected by MeHg since it can be bioaccumulated in the body
and biomagnified in the food web. The exposure to environmental MeHg most frequently occurs
through fish and seafood consumption (ingestion). Recent studies suggest that several genes
mediating the toxicokinetics of mercury are polymorphic in humans and may influence inter-
286
Drasch G, Wanghofer E and Roider G (1997). Are blood, urine, hair, and muscle valid bio-monitoring parameters for
the internal burden of men with the heavy metals mercury, lead and cadmium? Trace Element Electrolytes 14: 116–
123.
287
Hahn LJ, Kloiber R, Vimy MJ, TakahashiY and Lorscheider FL (1989). Dental ‘silver’ tooth fillings: A source of
mercury exposure revealed by whole-body image scan and tissue analysis. FASEB J. 3: 2641–2646.
288
Hargreaves RJ, Evans JG, Janota I, Magos L and Cavanagh JB (1988). Persistant mercury in nerve cells 16 years after
metallic mercury poisoning. Neuropathol. Appl. Neurobiol. 14:443–452.
289
Holmes AS, Blaxill MF and Haley BE (2003). Reduced levels of mercury in first baby haircuts of autistic children. Int.
J. Toxicol. 22: 277–285.
290
Lorscheider FL, Vimy MJ and Summers AO (1995). Mercury exposure from ‘silver’ tooth fillings: emerging evidence
questions a traditional dental paradigm. FASEB J. 9: 504–508.
291
Opitz H, Schweinsberg F, Grossmann T, Wendt-Gallitelli MF and Meyermann R (1996). Demonstration of mercury in
the human brain and other organs 17 years after metallic mercury exposure. Clin. Neuropathol. 15: 139–144.
292
Vimy MJ, Takahashi Y and Lorscheider FL (1990). Maternal–fetal distribution of mercury (203 Hg) released from
dental amalgam fillings. Am. J. Physiol. 258: 939–945.
293
Weiner JA and Nylander M (1993). The relationship between mercury concentration in human organs and different
predictor variables. Sci. Total Environ. 138: 101–115.
294
Arenholt-Bindslev D and Larsen AH (1996). Hg levels and discharge in waste water from dental clinics. Water, Air
Soil Pollut. 86: 93–99.
295
Drummond JL, Cailas MD and Croke K (2003). Hg generation potential from dental waste amalgam. J. Dent. 31:
493–501.
296
Drummond JL, Liu Y, Wu TY and Cailas MD (2003). Particle versus Hg removal efficiency of amalgam separators. J.
Dent. 31: 51–58.
297
Zhao X, Rockne KJ, Drummond JL, Hurley RK, Shade CW and Hudson RJM (2008) Characterization of Methyl
Mercury in Dental Wastewater and Correlation with Sulfate-Reducing Bacterial DNA. Environmental Science &
Technology , 42: 2780 -2786.
298
Houston MC (2011). Role of Mercury Toxicity in Hypertension, Cardiovascular Disease, and Stroke. J Clin Hypertens
(Greenwich); 13:621–627.
299
UNEP Chemicals. Global Mercury Assessment. (2002) Report no. 54790-01. Geneva, Switzerland. 258 p.
180 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Annex D – Literature review on health effects of dental amalgam
individual variability in mercury accumulation (Evecherria et al., 2005300; Li and Woods, 2009301;
Goodrich et al., 2011302). According to Prof. Woods (researcher at the University of Washington),
‘up to 25% of the American population could have genetic polymorphisms that lower the
threshold for mercury toxicity, which suggests that a significant number of people may be
adversely affected by exposure to mercury at levels much lower than those thought to be a public
health concern’303.
Exposure to Hg contained in amalgams can cause allergies such as urticaria, asthmatic seizures,
hearing loss at high frequencies and can even result in anaphylaxis (Rothwell et Boyd, 2008)304,
(SCENIHR, 2008270; Weidinger et al., 2004305) or orofacial granulomatosis (Tomka et al., 2011306).
In more than 90% of the cases, the allergic reactions recover by removal of amalgam (GuttmanYassky et al., 2003307).
It has also been suggested that exposure to Hg contained in dental amalgam may increase the
risk of peripheral neuropathy, neurological diseases and other systemic diseases such as
Alzheimer disease308 (Grosman and Picot, 2009309), kidney diseases (Mortada et al. 2009310),
autism (Mutter et al., 2005311), autoimmune diseases (Gallagher et al., 2012312; Bartova et al.,
300
Echeverria D et al. (2005) Chronic low-level mercury exposure, BDNF polymorphism, and associations with cognitive
and motor function. Neurotoxicology and Teratology; 27: 781 – 796
301
Li T, Woods JS. (2009) Cloning, Expression, and Biochemical Properties of CPOX4, a Genetic Variant of
Coproporphyrinogen Oxidase that Affects Susceptibilitly to Mercury Toxicity in Humans. Toxicological
Sciences;109(2), 228–236
302
Goodrich, Jaclyn M., Wang, Yi, Gillespie, Brenda, Werner, Robert, Franzblau, Alfred, Basu and Niladri (2011)
Glutathione enzyme and selenoprotein polymorphisms associate with mercury biomarker levels in Michigan dental
professionals, Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology. Doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2011.09.014
303
From an interview for a University of Washington newsletter in 2010
(http://depts.washington.edu/envhlth/news/profile.php?content_ID=1060)
304
Rothwell J and Boyd P (2008). Amalgam dental fillings and hearing loss. Int J Audiol. 47: 770-776.
305
Weidinger S, Kramer U, Dunemann L, Mohrenschlager M, Ring J and Behrendt H (2004). Body burden of mercury is
associated with acute atopic eczema and total IgE in children from southern Germany. J. Allergy. Clin. Immunol. 114:
457–459.
306
Tomka M, et al (2011). Orofacial granulomatosis associated with hypersensitivity to dental amalgam. Oral Surg Oral
Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod. [available online, not printed yet].
307
Guttman-Yassky E, Weltfriend S and Bergman R (2003) Resolution of orofacial granulomatosis with amalgam
removal. J. Eur. Acad. Dermatol. Venerol. 17: 344–347.
308
Several mechanisms explaining these disturbances have now been clearly identified: induction of oxidative stress,
destruction of neuronal cytoskeleton, inhibition of the activity of enzymes which play a vital role in brain functions,
disturbances in glutamate ‐a neuromediator‐ metabolism, etc. Moreover, The distribution of AD worldwide globally
corresponds to that of tooth decay and to the use of dental amalgams.
309
Grosman M and Picot A (2009). Environmental factors and Alzheimer's disease: Mercury strongly under suspicion.
Médecine and Longévité 1: 12-21.
310
Mortada WL, Sobh MA, El-Defrawy MM and Farahat SE (2002). Mercury in dental restoration: is there a risk of
nephrotoxicity? Journal of Nephrology 15: 171-6.
311
Mutter J, Naumann J, Schneider R, Walach H and Haley B (2005). Mercury and autism: Accelerating evidence?
Neuro. Endocrinol.Lett. 26: 431–437.
312
Gallagher C and Meliker J. Mercury and thyroid autoantibodies in U.S. women, NHANES 2007–2008. Environment
International Volume 40, April 2012, Pages 39–43
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Annex D – Literature review on health effects of dental amalgam
2003313; Berlin, 2003314; Hultmann et al., 1994315 and 1998316; Pizzichini et al., 2003317; Pollard et al.,
2001318; Prochazkova et al., 2004319; Stejskal and Stejskal, 1999320; Stejskal et al., 1999321; Sterzl et
al., 1999322) such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Stankovic, 2006323; Bates 2004324),
psychological conditions, chronic fatigue syndrome, male or female fertility, obstetric
parameters and birth defects. Some of these toxic effects may be mediated by binding of
mercury to sulfhydryl groups of enzymes (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry,
1999325).
However, there is no scientific consensus on these effects. For some scientists, existing studies
show little evidence of effects on general chronic disease incidence or mortality (SCENIHR,
2008270), (Bellinger et al, 2007326), (Lauterbach et al, 2008327; Bates 2006272).
Certain populations have been the subject of several studies (pregnant women, children)
concerning the dental restoration with amalgams, because the developing brain of foetuses and
children is more susceptible to lower exposure levels when compared with the rest of the
313
Bartova J, Prochazkova J, Kratka Z, Benetkova K, Venclikova Z and Sterzl I (2003). Dental amalgam as one of the risk
factors in autoimmune diseases. Neuro. Endocrinol. Lett. 24: 65–67.
314
Berlin M (2003). Mercury in dental-filling materials—An updated risk analysis in environmental medical terms. The
Dental Material Comission—Care and Consideration. www.dentalmaterial.gov.se/mercury.pdf.
315
Hultman P, Johansson U, Turley S, Lindh U, Enestrom S and Pollard K (1994). Adverse immunological effects and
autoimmunity induced by dental amalgam and alloy in mice. FASEB J. 8: 1183– 1190.
316
Hultman P, Lindh U and Horsted-Binslev P (1998). Activation of the immune system and systemic immune-complex
deposits in Brown Norway rats with dental amalgam restorations. J. Dent. Res. 77: 1415–1425.
317
Pizzichini M, Fonzi M, Giannieri F, Mencarelli M, Gasparoni A, Rocchi G, et al. Influence of amalgam fillings on Hg
levels and total antioxidant activity in plasma of healthy donors. Sci Total Environ. 2003; 301:43–50.
318
Pollard KM, Pearson DL, Hultman P, Deane TN, Lindh U and Kono DH (2001). Xenobiotic acceleration of idiopathic
systemic autoimmunity in lupus-prone bxbs mice. Environ. Health Perspect. 109: 27–33.
319
Prochazkova J, Sterzl I, Kucerova H, Bartova J and Stejskal VDM (2004). The beneficial effect of amalgam
replacement on health in patients with autoimmunity. Neuro. Endocrinol. Lett. 25: 211–218.
320
Stejskal J and Stejskal VD (1999). The role of metals in autoimmunity and the link to neuroendocrinology. Neuro.
Endocrinol. Lett.20: 351–364.
321
Stejskal J, Danersund A, Lindvall A, Hudececk R, Nordmann V, Yaqob A, Mayer W, Bieger W and Lindh U (1999).
Metalspecific lymphocytes: Biomarkers of sensitivity in man. Neuro. Endocrinol Lett. 20: 289–298.
322
Sterzl I, Prochazkova J, Hrda P, B´artova J, Matucha P and Stejskal VDM (1999). Mercury and nickel allergy: risk
factors in fatigue and autoimmunity. Neuro. Endocrinol. Lett. 20: 221–228.
323
Stankovic R (2006). Atrophy of large myelinated motor axons and declining muscle grip strength following mercury
vapour inhalation in mice. Inhal. Toxicol. 18: 57–69.
324
Bates M, Fawcett J, Garrett N, Cutress T and KjellstromT (2004). Related articles, health effects of dental amalgam
exposure: A retrospective cohort study. Int. J. Epidemiol. 33: 894–902.
325
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (1999). Toxicological Profile for Cadmium. US Department of
Human and Health Services.
326
Bellinger D, Daniel D, Trachtenberg F, Tavares M and McKinlay S ( 2007). Dental Amalgam Restorations and
Children’s Neuropsychological Function: The New England Children’s Amalgam Trial. Environmental Health
Perspectives 115: 440-446.
327
Lauterbach M, Martins IP, Castro-Caldas A, Bernardo M, Luis H, Amaral H, Leitao J, Martin MD, Townes B and
Rosenbaum G and DeRouen T (2008). Neurological outcomes in children with and without amalgam-related mercury
exposure: seven years of longitudinal observations in a randomized trial. J. Am. Dent. Assoc. 139: 138-45.
182 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Annex D – Literature review on health effects of dental amalgam
population (Al-Saleh and Al-Sedairi, 2011328; Bellinger et al., 2007329; Bellinger et al., 2006330;
Björnberg et al. 2005331). For instance, evidence of neurotoxicity from prenatal methylmercury
exposure is now considered sufficient for high exposure levels, but more research is needed for
low exposure levels (Röösli, 2011332; Watson et al. ,2011333). A number of research works have
demonstrated that mercury from maternal amalgam fillings leads to an increase in mercury
concentration in the tissues and the hair of fetuses and newborn children. Moreover, placental,
fetal, and infant mercury body burden in addition to mercury levels in amniotic fluid (Luglie et al.,
2003)334 and breast milk (Drasch et al., 1998335; Oskarsson et al., 1996336; Vimy et al., 1997337)
correlate with the numbers of amalgam fillings of the mothers (Ask et al., 2002 338 ; Drasch et al.,
1994339 ; Holmes et al., 2003289; Morgan et al., 2002340; Takahashi et al., 2001341, 2003342; Vather et
al., 2000343) and the number of amalgam fillings have been shown to correlate with age,
education, smoking habits, and BMI (Body Mass Index) of pregnant women (Lygre at al., 2010)344.
328
Al-Saleh, Al anoud Al-Sedairi (2011) Mercury (Hg) burden in children: The impact of dental amalgam. Science of The
Total Environment, Volume 409, Issue 16, Pages 3003-3015.
329
Bellinger DC, Trachtenberg F, Barregard L, Tavares M, Cernichiari E, Daniel D and McKinlay S (2007).
Neuropsychological and renal effects of dental amalgam in children: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA 295: 1775-83.
330
Bellinger DC, Trachtenberg F, Barregard L, Tavares M, Cernichiari E and Daniel D (2006). JAMA 295: 1775-83.
331
Björnberg KA, Vahter M, Berglund B, Niklasson B, Blennow M, Sandborgh-Englund G (2005). Transport of
methylmercury and inorganic mercury to the fetus and breast-fed infant Environ Health Perspect 113:1381–1385
332
Röösli M. (2011) Non-cancer effects of chemical agents on children’s health. Progress in Biophysics and Molecular
Biology, In Press.
333
Watson G et al. Prenatal exposure to dental amalgam Evidence from the Seychelles Child Development Study main
cohort. The Journal of the American Dental Association November 1, 2011 vol. 142 no. 11 1283-1294
334
Luglie PF, Campus G, Chessa G, Spano G, Capobianco G, Fadda GM and Dessole S (2005). Effect of amalgam fillings
on the mercury concentration in human amniotic fluid. Arch. Gynecol. Obstet. 271: 138–142.
335
Drasch G, Aigner S, Roider G, Staiger F and Lipowsky G (1998). Mercury in human colostrum and early breast milk.
Its dependence on dental amalgam and other factors. J. Trace Element Med. Biol. 12:23–27.
336
Oskarsson A, Schultz A, Skerfving S, Hallen IP, Ohlin B and Lagerkvist BJ (1996) Total and inorganic mercury in
breast milk in relation to fish consumption and amalgam in lactating women. Arch. Environ. Health 51:234–241.
337
Vimy MJ, Takahashi Y and Lorscheider FL (1990). Maternal– foetal distribution of mercury (203 Hg) released from
dental amalgam fillings. Am. J. Physiol. 258:939–945.
338
Ask K, Akesson A, Berglund M and Vahter M (2002). Inorganic mercury and methylmercury in placentas of Swedish
women. Environ.Health Perspect. 110: 523–526.
339
Drasch G, Schupp I, Hofl H, Reinke R and Roider G (1994). Mercury burden of human fetal and infant tissues. Eur. J.
Ped. 153: 607– 610.
340
Morgan DL, Chanda SM, Price HC, Fernando R, Liu J, Brambila E, O’Connor RW, Beliles RP and Barone SJr (2002).
Disposition of inhaled mercury vapor in pregnant rats: maternal toxicity and effects on developmental outcome.
Toxicol. Sci. 66: 261–273.
341
Takahashi Y, Tsuruta S, Hasegawa J, Kameyama Y and Yoshida M (2001). Release of mercury from dental amalgam
fillings in pregnant rats and distribution of mercury in maternal and fetal tissues. Toxicology 163: 115–126.
342
Takahashi Y, Tsuruta S, Arimoto M, Tanaka H and Yoshida M (2003). Placental transfer of mercury in pregnant rats
which received dental amalgam restorations. Toxicology 185: 23–33.
343
Vahter M, Akesson A, Lind B, Bjors U, Schutz A and Berglund F (2000). Longitudinal study of methylmercury and
inorganic mercury in blood and urin of pregnant and lactating women, as well as in umbilical cord blood. Environ. Res.
84: 186-194.
344
Lygre GB, Björkman L, Haug K, Skjaerven R and Helland V (2010). Exposure to dental amalgam restorations in
pregnant women. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol, 38: 460-469.
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 183
Annex D – Literature review on health effects of dental amalgam
However, there is no consensus on the health effects related to such exposure. A case-control
study of 1117 low birth weight infants and 4468 controls in Washington State, for instance, found
no association between low birth weight and dental amalgam restorations in the mothers during
pregnancy (Hujoel et al., 2005345). In a randomised clinical trial, exposure to elemental mercury in
amalgam at the levels experienced by the children who participated in the trial did not result in
significant effects on neuropsychological function within the 5-year follow-up period (Bellinger et
al., 2007329). Similarly, in a recent study, no correlation between Hg exposure and autism markers
was found in autistic children (Woods, et al., 2010)346.
Many studies on health effects of mercury concluded that further research is needed into
whether health effects occur in children (Counter and Buchanan, 2004; Bates, 2006272; Barregard
et al., 2008347; Burbure et al., 2006348).
No link has been observed between Hg exposure and negative health effects with respect to
dentist mortality, although the Hg blood level is higher in dentists than in a reference population
(SCENIHR, 2008270), (Atesagaoglu et al, 2006349; Harakey et al., 2003350; Tezel et al., 2001351;
Nylander and Weiner, 1991352). However, adverse health effects on dental nurses’ reproductive
health were observed in New Zealandian dental nurses who handled amalgam without stringent
measures to protect them from exposure to Hg vapours (Jones, 2004353). Appropriate handling
can significantly reduce exposure to mercury (e.g. Jokstad 2011354), however amalgam is still
handled without sufficient protection from mercury exposure in many dental offices, especially in
developing countries; reporting on this issue is incomplete (Munaz et al., 2010)355. When
345
Hujoel PP, Lydon-Rochelle M, Bollen AM, Woods JS, Geurtsen W and del Aguila MA (2005). Mercury exposure from
dental filling placement during pregnancy and low birth weight risk. Am. J. Epidemiol. 161: 734–740.
346
Woods JS, Armel SE, Fulton DI, Allen J, Wessels K, Simmonds PL, Granpeesheh D, Mumper E, Bradstreet JJ,
Echeverria D, Heyer NJ and Rooney JP (2010). Urinary porphyrin excretion in neurotypical and autistic children. Environ
Health Perspect. 118: 1450-1457.
347
Barregard L, Trachtenberg F and McKinlay S (2008). Renal effects of dental amalgam in children: the New England
children's amalgam trial. Environ Health Perspect. 116: 394-9.
348
de Burbure C, Buchet JP, Leroyer A, Nisse C, Haguenoer JM, Mutti A, Smerhovsky Z, Cikrt M, Trzcinka-Ochocka M,
Razniewska G, Jakubowski M and Bernard A (2006). Renal and neurologic effects of cadmium, lead, mercury, and
arsenic in children: evidence of early effects and multiple interactions at environmental exposure levels. Environ Health
Perspect. 114: 584-90.
349
Atesagaoglu A, Omurlu H, Ozcagli E, Sardas S and Ertas N (2006). Mercury exposure in dental practice. Oper. Dent.
31: 666-669.
350
Harakeh S, Sabra N, Kassak K, Doughan B and Sukhn C (2003). Mercury and arsenic levels among Lebanese
dentists: a call for action. Bull. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. 70: 629–635.
351
Tezel H, Ertas OS Ozata F, Erakin C and Kayali A (2001). Blood mercury levels of dental students and dentists at a
dental school. Br. Dent. J. 191: 449–452.
352
Nylander M and Weiner J (1991). Mercury and selenium concentrations and their interrelations in organs from
dental staff and the general population. Br. J. Ind. Med. 48: 729–734.
353
Jones, L. M. (2004). Focus on fillings: A qualitative health study of people medically diagnosed with mercury
poisoning, linked to dental amalgam. Acta Neuropsychiatrica, 16(3), 142-148.
354
Jokstad A (2011). Summary of: Thirty-five year review of a mercury monitoring service for Scottish dental practices.
British Dental Journal 210, 122 – 123.
355
Mumtaz R, Ali Khan A, Noor N and Humayun S. (2010) Amalgam use and waste management by Pakistani dentists:
an environmental perspective. Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal, Vol. 16 No. 3
184 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Annex D – Literature review on health effects of dental amalgam
considering self-reported symptoms, studies on dental staff workers show increased
neuropsychological complaints (Aydin et al., 2003356; Bittner et al., 1998357; Echeverria et al.,
2005358, 2006359; Heyer et al., 2006360; Ngim et al., 1992361; Ritchie et al., 2002362). When
considering neurological, Parkinson's or renal diseases, no consistent result was found in a study
in Denmark (Thygesen et al., 2011363) while in another study molecular signs of oxidative stress
for renal dysfunction were observed following mercury exposure in dental workers (Samir and
Aref, 2011364). Visual evoked potentials in staff exposed to mercury (among them dentists)
showed significant changes when compared with non-exposed population (Urban et al., 1999365).
Visible health improvement or recovery of the previously mentioned diseases and symptoms has
been reported after amalgam removal, also in cases where protective measures had been taken
to minimise mercury exposure (Kidd, 2000366; Lindh et al., 2002367; Engel, 1998368; Huggins et al.,
1998369; Prochazkova et al., 2004370; Siblerud et al., 1994371; Stejskal et al., 1999321; Sterzl et al.,
356
Aydin N, Karaoglanoglu S, Yigit A, Keles MS, Kirpinar I and Seven N (2003). Neuropsychological effects of low
mercury exposure in dental staff in Erzurum, Turkey. Int. Dent. J. 53: 85– 91.
357
Bittner ACJ, Echeverria D, Woods JS, Aposhian HV, Naleway C, Martin MD, Mahurin RK, Heyer NJ and Cianciola M
(1998). Behavioral effects of low-level exposure to HgO among dental professional: A cross-study evaluation of
psychomotor effects. Neuortoxicol. Teratol. 17: 161–168.
358
Echeverria D, Woods JS, Heyer N, Rohlman D, Farin F, Bittner A, Li T and Garabedian C (2005). Chronic low-level
mercury exposure, BDNF polymorphism and associations with cognitive and motor function. Neurotoxicol. Teratol. 27:
781–796.
359
Echeverria D, Woods JS, Heyer NJ, Rohlman D, Farin F, Li T and Garabedian C (2006). The association between a
genetic polymorphism of coproporphyrinogen oxidase, dental mercury exposure and neurobehavioral response in
humans. Neurotoxicol. Teratol. 28: 39–48.
360
Heyer N, Bittner AJ, Echerverria D and Woods J (2006). A cascade analysis of the interaction of mercury and
coproporphyrinogenoxidase (CPOX) polymorphism on the heme biosynthetic pathway and porphyrin production.
Toxicol. Lett. 161: 159–166.
361
Ngim CH, Foo SC, Boey KW and Jeyaratnam J (1992). Chronic neurobehavioral effects of elemental mercury in
dentists. Br. J. Ind. Med. 49: 782–790.
362
Ritchie KA, Gilmour WH, Macdonald EB, Burke FJT, McGowan DA, Dale IM, Hammersley R, Hamilton RM, Binnie V
and Collington D (2002). Health and neuropsychological functioning of dentists exposed to mercury. Occup. Environ.
Med. 59: 287–293.
363
Thygesen L. et al. (2011). Hospital admissions for neurological and renal diseases among dentists and dental
assistants occupationally exposed to mercury. Occup Environ Med. [Epub ahead of print]
364
Samir A. and Aref W., (2011). Impact of occupational exposure to elemental mercury on some antioxidative
enzymes among dental staff. Toxicol Ind Health
365
Urban P, Lukas E, Nerudova J, Cabelkova Z and Cikrt M (1999). Neurological and electrophysiological examinations
on three groups of workers with different levels of exposure to mercury vapors. Eur. J. Neurol. 6: 571–577.
366
Kidd R (2000). Results of dental amalgam removal and mercury detoxification usind DMPS and neural therapy.
Altern. Ther. Health 6: 49– 55.
367
Lindh U, Hudecek R, Dandersund A, Eriksson S and Lindvall A (2002). Removal of dental amalgam and other metal
alloys supported by antioxidant therapy alleviates symptoms and improves quality of life in patients with amalgamassociated ill health. Neuroendocrinol. Lett. 23: 459–482.
368
Engel P (1998). Beobachtungen über die Gesundheit vor und nach Amalgamentfernung [Observations on health
before and after removing dental amalgam]. Schweiz. Monatsschr. Zahnm. 108: 2–14.
369
Huggins HA and Levy TE (1998). Cerebrospinal fluid protein changes in multiple sclerosis after dental amalgam
removal. Altern. Med. Rev. 295–300.
370
Prochazkova J, Sterzl I, Kucerova H, Bartova J, Stejskal V (2004). The beneficial effect of amalgam replacement on
health in patients with autoimmunity. Neuroendocrinology Letters No.3 June Vol.25.
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 185
Annex D – Literature review on health effects of dental amalgam
1999372, 2006373; Stromberg and Langworth, 1998374; Valentine-Thon et al., 2006375; Wojcik et al.,
2006376).
Self-reported cognitive symptoms are frequent in persons with amalgam-related complaints, but
few studies have focused on their cognitive function. In a recent study, participants with
amalgam-related complaints reported more symptoms, mainly musculoskeletal and
neuropsychological disorders, compared with control individuals. However, the results revealed
no significant difference between the amalgam and control group for any of the cognitive tests
used (Sundström et al., 2010)377. Moreover, another study showed that negative life events could
play a vital role in understanding and explaining amalgam-related complaints (Sundström et al.,
2010)378.
FURTHER RESEARCH NEEDS
Small number of subjects, inadequate exposure data and inadequate control recruitment
methods are common limitations for the evaluation of health effects of dental amalgams (Bates,
2006)272. Timing of amalgam placements or dental treatment history is often ignored or difficult
to track (Roberts et al, 2009379). Many of the suspected diseases can also be triggered by several
environmental factors (multi-exposure).The toxic effects of all filling materials may also be
dependent on dentine permeability and residual dentine thickness (SCENIHR, 2008270).
Better designed studies are therefore needed, particularly for investigation of neurodegenerative
diseases and effects on infants and children. Sex-related differences in Hg handling and
susceptibility to Hg toxicity need to be further investigated. Studies on long-term health effects
of dentists’ occupational exposure are also needed.
371
Siblerud RL, Motl J and Kienholz E (1994). Psychometric evidence that mercury from silver dental fillings may be an
etiological factor in depression, excessive anger, and anxiety. Psychol. Rep. 74: 67–80.
372
Sterzl I, Prochazkova J, Hrda P, Bartova J, Matucha P and Stejskal VDM (1999). Mercury and nickel allergy: risk
factors in fatigue and autoimmunity. Neuro. Endocrinol. Lett. 20: 221–228.
373
Sterzl I, Prochazkova J, Hrda P, Matucha P, Bartova J and Stejskal V (2006). Removal of dental amalgam decreases
anto-TPO and anti-Tg autoantibodies in patients with autoimmune thyroiditis. Neuro. Endocrinol. Lett. 27: 25–30.
374
Strömberg R and Langworth S (1998). Förbättra hälsan after borttagning of amalgam? (‘Better health after removal
of amalgam?’). Tandlakartidningen 90: 23–27
375
Valentine-Thon E, Muller KE, Guzzi G, Kreisel S, Ohnsorge P, Sandkamp (2006). M. LTT-MELISA® is clinically
relevant for detecting and monitoring metal sensitivity. Neuro Endocrinol Lett 27: 17-24.
376
Wojcik DP, Godfrey ME, Christie D and Haley BE (2006). Mercury toxicity presenting as chronic fatigue, memory
impairment and depression: diagnosis, treatment, susceptibility, and outcomes in a New Zealand general practice
setting (1994-2006). Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 27:415-23.
377
Sundström A, Bergdahl J, Nyberg L, Bergdahl M and Nilsson LG (2010) Cognitive status in persons with amalgamrelated complaints. J Dent Res. 89: 1236-40.
378
Sundström A, Bergdahl J, Nyberg L, Bergdahl M and Nilsson LG (2010) Stressful negative life events and amalgamrelated complaints. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0528.2010.00571.x.
379
Roberts H and Charlton DG (2009). The Release of Mercury from Amalgam Restorations and Its Health Effects: A
Review. Operative Dentistry 34: 605-614.
186 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Annex E – Market review of dental amalgam and mercury-free alternatives
Annex E: Additional data from the market review on
dental amalgam and mercury-free alternatives
The objective of this market review was to gather and analyse information and socio-economic
data on the market for dental amalgam and Hg-free alternatives, which could be used to conduct
the assessment of policy options.
The data search covered the following key aspects:
Identity and key characteristics of companies producing and selling dental
fillings in the EU
Number of dentists per Member State
Number of dental restorations, by type of material used, in each Member
State
Amounts of dental filling materials used in each Member State, by type of
material, and future trends
Costs of dental restorations, by type of material, in each Member State
Influence of national health insurance schemes on dental restoration costs
Following a review of existing literature and public databases, additional data was mainly
collected via tailored questionnaires sent to the various stakeholders as well as telephone
interviews with several stakeholders.
E.1 – Demand for dental amalgam
No public EU market data on dental amalgam is available from Eurostat (the category ‘Dental
cements and other dental fillings, bone reconstruction cements’ (Code 32.50.50.10) is too broad
to be able to distinguish between the various materials used). Therefore, in order to collect data
on dental amalgam demand, the dental fillings manufacturers were contacted directly.
Specifically, a questionnaire was send to 24 European dental fillings manufacturers in which they
were asked to provide information on the amounts and prices of dental amalgam and Hg-free
materials sold in the EU. Follow-up calls were made to the largest companies, but only one
company provided individual market data and none of them provided an estimate of the EU
market size. The Association of Dental Dealers in Europe (ADDE) and the Federation of the
European Dental Industry (FIDE) were contacted as well. Both ADDE and FIDE pointed out that
currently they do not hold EU market data on dental filling materials.
Member States were also consulted by questionnaire to obtain data, but only limited data on
dental amalgam use was received. Therefore, some of the values are based on assumed
correlations between the number of inhabitants and the demand for dental amalgam, for three
groups of countries. Member States were categorised in three groups, according to the
estimated share of dental restorations performed with dental amalgam (vs. the total number of
restorations):
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 187
Annex E – Market review of dental amalgam and mercury-free alternatives
Group 1 - Dental amalgam is used in less than 5% of the restorations (this
group includes Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Estonia, where the use of
dental amalgam is either banned or very limited);
Group 2 – The share of dental amalgam restorations is estimated at between
6% and 35%;
Group 3 – The share of dental amalgam restorations is estimated at more than
35%.
Information on the share of dental restorations performed with dental amalgam was obtained via
the study questionnaire for 10 Member States. For 2 other Member States, it was taken from
previous studies (FR, PL). For the other Member States, it was estimated taking into account the
following parameters:
Possible restrictions in place concerning the use of dental amalgam in the
country (legal restrictions or recommendations by national authorities)
Attention paid to aesthetic aspects in the country
Economic wealth of the country.
The estimation of the dental amalgam use in the countries for which data is not available is based
on the average demand per capita calculated for the countries that belong to the same group.
For example, the demand in Belgium is calculated by multiplying the population of Belgium by
the average demand per capita for Germany+ Ireland. The results are shown in the table below.
Table 18: Estimation of annual dental mercury demand per Member State
Country
Data from questionnaires’
replies or from previous studies
Estimated by BIO
Amount of Hg contained
in dental amalgam (kg)
Group 1 - Share of dental amalgam ≤5%
Denmark
87
X
Estonia
X
13
Finland
X
51
Sweden
X
0.02
Italy
X
200
Group 2 - Share of dental amalgam between 6% and 35%
Bulgaria
X
502
Belgium
X
768
Cyprus
X
53
Germany
Hungary
Ireland
X
250
514
X
Luxembourg
Netherlands
2,710
X
X
X
188 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
29
367
Annex E – Market review of dental amalgam and mercury-free alternatives
Country
Data from questionnaires’
replies or from previous studies
Estimated by BIO
Amount of Hg contained
in dental amalgam (kg)
Portugal
X
622
Spain
X
2,690
Latvia
X
159
Group 3 - Share of dental amalgam > 35%
Austria
X
800
Czech Republic
X
3,600
380
X
17,000
France
Greece
X
2,699
Lithuania
X
795
Malta
X
99
Poland
381
10,000
X
Romania
X
5,124
Slovakia
X
1,295
Slovenia
X
630
UK
X
4,000
TOTAL EU27
55,058
E.2 – Demand for Hg-free filling materials
The estimation of the number of Hg-free restorations was based on the questionnaire responses
by Member States. Germany, Ireland, Austria, and Sweden and Italy provided estimates on the
share of dental restorations per dental filling material. Other countries (Estonia, Denmark,
Bulgaria, Hungary, Latvia, Czech Republic, Slovakia Slovenia and the UK) provided estimates on
the share of dental amalgam and Hg-free fillings without specifying the exact types of alternative
fillings.
Averages values for the above countries were used to estimate the values for the remaining
Member States. In this exercise, the same country groups as in the determination of dental
amalgam use were used to define the total shares of dental amalgam and Hg-free restorations.
380
Source: AFSSAPS (2005) Le mercure des amalgames dentaires
(http://www.bastamag.net/IMG/pdf/rapport_afssaps_2005_mercure_dentaire.pdf)
381
Source: NILU Polska (2009) Cost-benefit analysis of impact on human health and environment of mercury emission
reduction in Poland – Stage 1 (http://www.gios.gov.pl/zalaczniki/artykuly/etap1_20101022.pdf). It should be noted that
the Polish Bureau of Chemical Substances expressed some concerns about possibly overestimated dental amalgam
use reported in the NILU Polska study; however, as no official dental treatment statistics have been available from
2006 onwards in PL, there is no other relevant source of up-to-date information. The relatively low quantities of
officially reported dental amalgam waste produced in PL do not necessarily imply that dental amalgam use is low; in
fact this may be due to the small proportion of dental clinics using amalgam separators and collecting amalgam waste
as hazardous waste.
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 189
Annex E – Market review of dental amalgam and mercury-free alternatives
The estimated shares of dental amalgam and Hg-free materials restorations are applied to the
dental amalgam demand estimated in the previous section. Specifically, the number of dental
amalgam restorations are calculated by dividing the total Hg demand by the average amount
contained in one dental amalgam filling (assumed at approximately 600 mg per restoration). The
table below shows the results for each Member State.
Table 19: Estimated shares of dental amalgam and Hg-free restorations in 2010
Country
Dental
amalgam
All Hg-free
materials
Total dental amalgam
restorations/year
Total Hg-free
restorations/year
Group 1
Denmark
5%
95%
195,750
3,719,250
Estonia
5%
95%
28,696
545,217
Finland
3%
97%
114,588
3,322,772
Italy***
1%
99%
450,000
44,550,000
Sweden**
0%
100%
45
5,507,955
Group 2
Belgium
32%
68%
1,727,391
3,670,705
Bulgaria
30%
70%
1,129,981
2,636,623
Cyprus
30%
70%
119,986
279,968
Germany***
10%
90%
6,097,500
54,877,500
Hungary
16%
84%
562,500
2,953,125
Ireland***
35%
65%
1,156,500
2,147,786
Luxembourg
26%
74%
66,077
183,944
Netherlands****
10%
90%
825,407
7,428,667
Portugal
26%
74%
1,400,029
3,897,378
Spain
26%
74%
6,052,613
16,849,167
Latvia
32%
68%
358,289
761,364
Group 3
Austria***
37%
63%
1,800,000
3,064,865
Czech Republic
92%
8%
8,100,000
675,731
Greece
57%
43%
6,073,066
4,607,669
France
50%
50%
38,250,000
38,250,000
Lithuania
57%
43%
1,788,347
1,356,829
Malta
57%
43%
222,599
168,887
Poland
57%
43%
22,500,000
17,070,876
190 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Annex E – Market review of dental amalgam and mercury-free alternatives
Dental
amalgam
Country
All Hg-free
materials
Total dental amalgam
restorations/year
Total Hg-free
restorations/year
Romania
71%
11%
11,529,405
8,747,424
Slovakia
71%
11%
2,914,249
2,211,057
Slovenia
71%
11%
1,417,500
698,172
United Kingdom
71%
11%
9,000,000
14,684,211
* Assuming 0.6 g Hg per restoration
**Overall shares of restorations with the different materials have been estimated based on data in Concorde/EEB
(2007)
***For these MS, overall shares of restorations with the different materials were provided in the responses to the
study questionnaire
382
****According to the WHO report (page 22)
E.3 – Future trends in demand for dental fillings
materials
As part of the study, Member States and dental associations were asked about future trends
concerning:
The number of dental restorations per person and per year (regardless of the
material used);
The use of dental amalgam vs. Hg-free materials.
Based on the thirteen responses received, different trends are expected for the number of
dental restorations, with most of the countries expecting an increase in future years.
Future trends are influenced by several parameters:
A continuous improvement of dental health (e.g. due to public health policies)
is likely to decrease the need for dental restoration in the long term; however,
in some Member States, this may first lead to an increased share of population
having access to dental care, resulting in an increase in dental restoration
needs in the short term.
As older people tend to maintain their own teeth longer, more dental
restoration treatments are needed for this category of population whose
share is increasing.
Responses received are summarised in Table 20 below. Among the eight Member States
that provided information on future trends for dental amalgam, the use of this material is
expected to decrease or stabilise. Only in the UK, two different views were stated: the
British Dental Association projected a stabilisation of the use of dental amalgam, whereas
DEFRA projected a decline. Specifically, DEFRA pointed out that dental students in Wales
are taught the techniques for alternative materials on posterior teeth and there is an
increasing demand for cosmetic dentistry and development of non-amalgam materials.
382
WHO (2010) Future Use of Materials for Dental Restoration
(www.who.int/oral_health/publications/dental_material_2011.pdf)
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 191
Annex E – Market review of dental amalgam and mercury-free alternatives
Information provided by these eight Member States cannot be extrapolated to the entire
EU, as it is not a representative sample of Member States.
With regard to alternative materials, four Member States reported an expected increase in
the share of restorations using composite materials, while no change is expected in
Austria. For the other materials, future trends at EU level seem to be relatively uncertain.
Table 20: Expected future trends in dental restorations and use of dental filling materials
(based on replies to study questionnaire)
Number of dental
restorations (all materials)
Amalgam
Composite
materials
Glassionomers
Compomers
Ceramics
Austria
Decrease
Decrease
No change
No change
Decrease
Increase
Denmark
Decrease
Decrease
Estonia
Unknown
Decrease
Finland
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Increase
Country
Germany
No change or decrease
Decrease
Increase
Hungary
Unknown
Decrease
Increase
Ireland
Children: expected
increase of non-mercury
restorations
Adults: no change
Decrease
Increase
No change
Latvia
No change
Malta
Decrease
Decrease
Slovakia
No change
Decrease
Increase
Increase
Increase
No change
Slovenia
Increase
Sweden
Slight increase
Decrease /
no change
Increase
No change
Decrease
Decrease
UK
Decrease
No change
Future projections of dental amalgam use
The tables below provide an overview of the projections of dental mercury demand, in 2025. The
calculation was based on the assumption that demand for dental amalgam will decline, so that
dental amalgam restorations will represent the following shares of total restorations in 2025:
In the baseline scenario and Option 1: 5% - 15% in Group 2 and 20% - 30% in
Group 3;
In Option 2: 0% - 10% in Group 2 and 10% - 15% in Group 3;
In Option 3: 0 – 0.0001% in all groups.
192 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Annex E – Market review of dental amalgam and mercury-free alternatives
Table 21: Estimated demand for dental mercury in 2025, in the baseline scenario (t)
Country
Min
Max
Average
Difference with 2010 levels
Group 2 countries (projected share of dental amalgam restorations in 2025: 5-15%)
Bulgaria
113
339
226
451
Belgium
162
486
324
712
Cyprus
12
36
24
47
1,829
3,659
2,744
914
Hungary
105
316
211
126
Ireland
99
297
198
495
Luxembourg
8
23
15
24
Netherlands
94
281
187
307
Portugal
159
477
318
522
Spain
687
2,061
1,374
2,257
Latvia
19
57
38
83
3,302
8,075
5,688
6,009
Germany*
Total Group 2
Group 3 countries (projected share of dental amalgam restorations in 2025: 20-30%)
Austria
584
876
730
350
Czech Republic
1,053
1,580
1,316
3,544
France
9,180
13,770
11,475
11,475
Greece
1,282
1,923
1,602
2,042
Lithuania
377
566
472
601
Malta
47
70
59
75
Poland
4,749
7,123
5,936
7,564
Romania
2,433
3,650
3,042
3,876
Slovakia
615
923
769
980
Slovenia
254
381
317
533
2,842
4,263
3,553
1,847
Total Group 3
23,416
35,124
29,270
32,887
EU27
26,717
43,199
34,958
38,897
United Kingdom
*In Germany, the share of amalgam restorations is currently 10% and therefore the maximum value is assumed to
remain stable until 2025
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Annex E – Market review of dental amalgam and mercury-free alternatives
Table 22: Estimated demand for dental mercury in 2025, in Option 2 (t)
Country
Min
Max
Average
Difference with 2010 levels
Group 2 countries (projected share of dental amalgam restorations in 2025: 0-10%)
Bulgaria
0.00
226
113
565
Belgium
0.00
324
162
874
Cyprus
0.00
24
12
60
Germany
0.00
3,659
1,829
1,829
Hungary
0.00
211
105
232
Ireland
0.00
198
99
595
Luxembourg
0.00
15
8
32
Netherlands
0.00
187
94
402
Portugal
0.00
318
159
681
Spain
0.00
1,374
687
2,945
Latvia
0.00
67
34
181
0.00
6603.10
3,302
8,396
Total Group 2
Group 3 countries (projected share of dental amalgam restorations in 2025: 10-15%)
Austria
292
438
365
715
Czech Republic
527
790
658
4,202
France
4,590
6,885
5,738
17,213
Greece
641
961
801
2,843
Lithuania
189
283
236
837
Malta
23
35
29
104
Poland
2,374
3,561
2,968
10,532
Romania
1,217
1,825
1,521
5,397
Slovakia
308
461
384
1,364
Slovenia
127
190
159
692
1,421
2,132
1,776
3,624
Total Group 3
11,708
17,562
14,635
47,522
EU 27
11,708
24,165
17,936
55,918
United Kingdom
194 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Annex E – Market review of dental amalgam and mercury-free alternatives
Table 23: Estimated demand for dental mercury in 2025, in Option 3 (t)
Country
Min
Max
Average
Difference with 2010 levels
Group 2 countries (projected share of dental amalgam restorations in 2025: 0%-0.0001%)
Bulgaria
0
0
0
678
Belgium
0
0
0
1036
Cyprus
0
0
0
72
Germany
0
0
0
3658
Hungary
0
0
0
337
Ireland
0
0
0
694
Luxembourg
0
0
0
40
Netherlands
0
0
0
495
Portugal
0
0
0
840
Spain
0
0
0
3632
Latvia
0
0
0
215
0.00
0.07
0
9,531
Total Group 2
Group 3 countries (projected share of dental amalgam restorations in 2025: 10-15%)
Austria
0
0
0
1080
Czech Republic
0
0
0
4860
France
0
0
0
22950
Greece
0
0
0
3644
Lithuania
0
0
0
1073
Malta
0
0
0
134
Poland
0
0
0
13500
Romania
0
0
0
6918
Slovakia
0
0
0
1749
Slovenia
0
0
0
850
United Kingdom
0
0
0
5400
Total Group 3
0
0
0
50646
EU 27
0
0
0
73855
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Annex E – Market review of dental amalgam and mercury-free alternatives
E.4 – Cost comparison between dental amalgam
and alternative materials
The table below presents the unit costs of dental restorations using dental amalgam or Hg-free
materials. These correspond to the actual costs borne by patients going to dental practitioners
having an agreement with the public sector, i.e. taking into account possible amounts
reimbursed by the national health insurance schemes in place. The data comes from replies to
the study questionnaire or publicly available information.
Table 24: Overview of dental restoration costs borne by patients, per Member State (EUR)
Dental amalgam restoration
Hg-free restoration (composite, glass ionomer)
Country
Minimum
Maximum
Average
Minimum
Maximum
Average
Austria
25
58
41
85
160
122
Belgium
0
5
2.5
0
15
7.5
Bulgaria
15
15
15
15
15
15
Cyprus
27
27
27
29
29
29
Czech Republic
7
7
7
23
23
23
Denmark
16
48
32
42
42
42
Estonia
35
35
35
40
40
40
Finland
95
95
95
95
95
95
France
5
12
9
5
12
9
Germany
0
0
0
0
30
15
Hungary
0
0
0
0
0
0
Ireland
80
100
90
90
130
110
Italy
100
200
150
100
200
150
Latvia
0
17
9
0
25
13
Malta
30
40
35
40
40
40
Poland
0
0
0
0
37
19
Slovakia
0
22
11
0
30
15
0
160
80
0
56
28
Sweden
UK
0
56
28
196 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Annex E – Market review of dental amalgam and mercury-free alternatives
For a few Member States, information on the actual costs of dental restorations could also be
obtained (i.e. costs not taking into account possible amounts reimbursed to patients), as follows:
Table 25: Actual costs of dental restorations for a sample of Member States (EUR)
Dental amalgam
restoration
Hg-free restoration
(composite, glass ionomer)
16
31
24-60
50
Estonia
35
40
France
17-41
17-41
Germany
20-50
30-80
Hungary
11-12
16-20
Italy
100-200
100-200
Malta
30-40
40
Poland
10-20
20-37
Slovakia
13-22
15-30
Sweden
NA
60-160
36
49
Country
Czech Republic
Denmark
Average for the above MS
Influence of national health insurance schemes
Reimbursement schemes strongly influence the actual costs borne by patients.
The coverage of dental restorations by reimbursement schemes in the 20 Member States that
provided such information is summarised in the table below.
Table 26: Coverage of dental restorations by national health insurance schemes
Country
Austria
Coverage of
dental
amalgam
Coverage of Hgfree materials
X
X
(only front-teeth)
Belgium
Bulgaria
X
X
When Hg-free filling materials are used, these have to be fixed
with an adhesive technique. Depending on the socio-economic
situation of the patient and the age of the patient (children or
adult), the amount reimbursed varies between 75% and 100%.
X
X
A similar amount is reimbursed whatever the filling material.
Cyprus
Czech
Republic
Comments
There are no reimbursement schemes in Cyprus.
X
X
The cost of a dental amalgam restoration is approx. 16 EUR out of
which approx. 50% is reimbursed.
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 197
Annex E – Market review of dental amalgam and mercury-free alternatives
Country
Coverage of
dental
amalgam
Coverage of Hgfree materials
Comments
The cost of a composite restoration is approx. 31 EUR (unclear
which amount is reimbursed, assumed to be similar to dental
amalgam i.e. approx. 8 EUR reimbursed; there are ongoing
discussions concerning a possible update of Hg-free fillings
reimbursement in the future)
Denmark
X
Amalgam restoration: 24-60 EUR of which 8.5-12 EUR reimbursed
Glassionomer/plast reimbursement restoration: 50 EUR of which
8.5 EUR reimbursed
X
X
Treatment is free of charge up to 19-years old, regardless of the
material chosen
Actual costs: approx. 35 EUR for amalgam and 40 EUR for
composite restoration.
X
X
Same amount reimbursed whatever the filling material used.
X
X
National insurance scheme reimburses 70% of standard
treatment costs whatever the filling material used. Conventional
treatment costs range between 17 and 41 EUR depending on the
cavity size (but regardless of the material used). Final costs for
patients are therefore between 5 and 12 EUR if they consult
dentists applying conventional treatment costs.
X
X
Amalgam restorations fully reimbursed (actual cost 20-50 EUR).
Actual cost of composite restorations: 30-80 EUR, of which
compulsory health insurance reimburses approx 50 EUR max.
X
X
In conventional dental offices (i.e. not private clinics), the national
insurance scheme reimburses 100% of standard treatment costs,
whatever the filling material used.
Average conventional treatment costs for amalgam fillings are: 11
EUR for children (<18) and 12 EUR for adults. Average
conventional treatment costs for Hg-free fillings (composite) are:
16 EUR for children (<18) and 20 EUR for adults.
X
X (only front teeth)
X
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany
Hungary
Ireland
No reimbursement for Hg-free fillings on back teeth
Italy
There are no reimbursement schemes in Italy.
Latvia
Dental treatment of children 0-18 years old is paid by the
government.
For filling of molars and premolars only amalgam fillings are
reimbursed.
X
X (only front teeth)
Malta
There are no reimbursement schemes in Malta.
Poland
X
Dental amalgam restorations (actual cost 10-20 EUR) are fully
reimbursed by the national health scheme.
Hg-free restorations (actual cost 20-37 EUR) are only reimbursed
in certain cases, e.g. in children and pregnant women.
X
Up to 18 years old: restorations are fully reimbursed for amalgam
(actual cost: 13-22 EUR), glass ionomer in whole dental arch and
composites in front teeth
Adults: Hg-free restorations (actual cost: 15-30 EUR) fully or
partially reimbursed excluding ceramics
X
Slovakia
X
198 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Annex E – Market review of dental amalgam and mercury-free alternatives
Country
Slovenia
Coverage of
dental
amalgam
Coverage of Hgfree materials
X
X
Same amount reimbursed, whatever the filling material
X
Dental amalgam is no longer used, except under a few and highly
restricted circumstances, as part of the general ban on mercury in
Sweden.
X
Only certain categories of patients can receive free dental care
(children, pregnant women, etc.). In Scotland, alternative filling
materials are not covered by the national health scheme where
the filling involves molar or premolar teeth.
Hg-free fillings cost 55 EUR when covered by the national
healthcare scheme whereas under private treatment the cost
varies between 58 and 702 EUR.
Sweden
United
Kingdom
X
Comments
Source: Member States’ responses to the study questionnaire, complemented by internet searches.
E.5 – Additional information on placement time
required for Hg-free fillings
Experience from Sweden383
The Dental Service Organisation of the county of Örebro has provided an assessment made in
2007, when amalgam was to some extent still an option relevant for comparison. The assessment
clearly shows that the time required to make composite fillings is merely a few minutes longer
than for similar amalgam fillings, with time difference of less than 10 percent for all three
categories of treatments (one surface, several surfaces and crown). This type of assessment is
regularly made by Swedish Dental Service Organisations (however it is usually kept as working
material and not public), but today it is rare to find a direct comparison between amalgam and
composite since the former is not used in Sweden, except in special cases. The assessment made
for Örebro county has been used as basis for planning and management of the county’s dental
care and is thus highly relevant information relating to realistic circumstances in Swedish dental
care.
In addition, the Swedish Environment Ministry received a signed statement from the Swedish
Dental and Pharmaceutical Benefits Agency (TLV) that is responsible for the Swedish subsidy
scheme covering dental care. According to the statement, in preparation of the new dental care
reform that went into effect 1 July 2008 in Sweden, TLV gathered extensive information (e.g. on
time studies) from several Swedish Dental Service Organisations (among them Örebro county).
TLV states that the information on time and resource use, in different types of dental treatments,
showed great similarities between different dental care providers in Sweden, i.e. that there are
only minimal differences in time use assessments on dental treatments reported from various
parts of Sweden. This means that the assessment (on time use difference between amalgam and
alternative fillings) made by Örebro County that is referred to above can clearly be said to well
represent the situation on the national scale in Sweden.
383
Information provided by the Swedish Environment Ministry, as part of the stakeholder consultation for this study
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 199
Annex E – Market review of dental amalgam and mercury-free alternatives
Based on the above information, the Swedish Environment Ministry reported that it is confident
that dental restorations with Hg-free dental materials, if they are at all taking longer time, only
require minimal extra time when performed by dental staff with regular experience in the field.
E.6 – Additional information on longevity of filling
materials
Experience from Sweden384
In Sweden, the most up-to-date assessment is given in the Swedish National guidelines for adult
dental
care
2011
(Scientific
material
available
only
in
Swedish
at
http://www.socialstyrelsen.se/publikationer2011/2011-5-1/Documents/vetenskapligt- underlagvuxentandvard.pdf). On pages 195-197, the assessment on composite filling therapy (preferred
option in Sweden) is presented, based on e.g. Manhart et al. (2004) and several other studies and
expert group assessment. In summary, the assessment concerning longevity concludes that for
composite fillings on teeth under chewing pressure:
On average, 90 % (80-95 %) of fillings last for five years (moderate evidence
strength);
The median survival for fillings that are re-made is four years (spread three – nine
years) (moderate evidence strength);
There is no shown difference between composite fillings and composite inlays
after ten years. Both have a survival of 73-84 % (moderate evidence strength);
and
The most common reason for having to re-make a filling is secondary caries
(expert assessment).
However, since amalgam is no longer in use in Sweden, the assessment simply does not include
similar longevity assessment of that material.
E.7 – Key actors
Dentists
Numbers of practising dentists per 100,000 inhabitants and total numbers of dentists are shown
in the tables below. The definition of ‘dentist’ varies between Member States385. For this reason,
Eurostat defines three different categories of dentists: practising dentists, professionally active
dentists and dentists licensed to practice. In the context of this project, the number of practising
dentists is considered as more appropriate to be used as a potential indicator. However, the other
two categories are also considered when data on practising dentists is not available.
384
Information provided by the Swedish Environment Ministry, as part of the stakeholder consultation for this study
385
The different definitions used by each Member States are outlined in Eurostat's Concepts and Definitions Database
(available at:
http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/ramon/nomenclatures/index.cfm?TargetUrl=DSP_GLOSSARY_NOM_DTL_VIEW&StrNo
m=CODED2&StrLanguageCode=EN&IntKey=16451485&RdoSearch=CONTAIN&TxtSearch=dentist&CboTheme=&Int
CurrentPage=1 )
200 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Annex E – Market review of dental amalgam and mercury-free alternatives
In the EU27, there are approximately 62 dentists for every 100,000 inhabitants. In 2009, the total
number of dentists in the EU27 was approximately 310,500386. Cyprus has the highest number of
practising dentists per inhabitant (93 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2008) and Poland has the lowest
population coverage (32 dentists per 100,000 inhabitants in 2009). Germany has the highest total
number of practising dentists (approximately 62,000).
Table 27: Statistics on the number of dentists, 2009 - Source: Eurostat
Country
Number of practising dentists per
100,000 inhabitants
Total number of
practising dentists
Austria
55.2
4,619
Belgium
70.6
7,655
Bulgaria
85.8
6,493
Cyprus*
93.2
743
Czech Republic
67.5
7,092
Denmark*
80.1
4,414
Estonia
89.2
1,196
Finland*
75.6
4,007
64.6**
41,799***
78.6
64,287
130.7**
14,774***
49.1
4,920
60.5***
2,702**
51.8**
31,085***
Latvia
67.2
1,510
Lithuania
70.5
2,347
Luxembourg
80.5
404
Malta
43.3
179
51.1**
8,420***
31.9
12,169
Portugal
72.0***
7,656**
Romania
58.0
12,448
Slovakia
48.5**
2,633***
France
Germany
Greece
Hungary
Ireland
Italy
Netherlands*
Poland
386
This number mostly includes practicing dentists. For countries where no information is available, the number of
professionally active or licensed to practice dentists is used instead.
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 201
Annex E – Market review of dental amalgam and mercury-free alternatives
Country
Number of practising dentists per
100,000 inhabitants
Slovenia
Total number of
practising dentists
60.4
1,236
58.1***
26,725**
Sweden*
80.5
7,449
United Kingdom
50.9
31,560
Spain
*Data corresponds to 2008
** *Professionally active dentists
**Dentists licensed to practise
Dental filling manufacturers
This study has identified 62 main companies producing dental filling materials in the EU, of
which:
20 companies produce both dental amalgam and Hg-free materials
38 companies only Hg-free materials
3 companies produce only mercury for dental restoration applications387
1 company produces solely dental amalgam alloys (silver/copper/tin) and
precious metals alloys for crown and bridge work388.
The figure below provides an overview of the dental filling producers in the EU. A list of these
companies is provided in the table below.
387
The Czech company Bome S.R.O. supplies bulk mercury directly to dental practices or to other manufacturers that
produce dental amalgam capsules.
388
The Cookson Precious Metals Ltd company (UK) manufactures dental amalgam alloys (silver/copper/tin) as well as
gold fillings and inlays. Amalgam alloy is sold to wholesale companies as well as to producers of dental amalgam
capsules.
202 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Annex E – Market review of dental amalgam and mercury-free alternatives
Figure 16: Main dental filling producers in the EU (number of companies per Member State)
CZ; 2
DE; 10
ES; 1
FR; 2
GR; 1
IT; 2
No dental
amalgam
produced; 39
NL; 2
SE; 2
UK; 1
Table 28: Producers of dental filling materials in the EU27
Company
Country
Dental
amalgam*
Hg-free
filling
materials
Website
Types of materials
Edelweiss Dentistry
Products GmbH
AT
X
www.edelweissdentistry.com
Composites
GC EUROPE N.V.
BE
X
www.gceurope.com
Composites, glass
ionomers
SpofaDental a.s.
CZ
X
www.spofadental.com
Composites, glass
ionomers
Bome s.r.o.
CZ
X
SAFINA, a.s
CZ
X
3M ESPE AG
www.bome.cz
X
www.safina.cz
Gold alloys
DE
X
www.3mespe.de
Composites, glass
ionomers
ACTEON Germany
GmbH
DE
X
www.de.acteongroup.c
om
Composites
Bisico Bielefelder
Dentalsilicone GmbH &
Co. KG
DE
X
X
www.bisico.de
Composites
Coltène Whaledent
GmbH + Co. KG
DE
X
X
www.coltenewhaleden
t.com
Composites
Creamed GmbH & Co.
Produktions- und
Handels KG
DE
X
www.creamed.de
Composites
Cumdente GmbH
DE
X
www.cumdente.de
Composites
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 203
Annex E – Market review of dental amalgam and mercury-free alternatives
Country
Dental
amalgam*
Hg-free
filling
materials
Website
DC Dental Central
Großhandelsges. mbH
DE
X
X
www.dental-central.de
Composites, glass
ionomers, ceramics
DENTSPLY DeTrey
GmbH
DE
X
X
www.dentsply.de
Composites, glass
ionomers, ceramics
compomers
DMG ChemischPharmazeutische Fabrik
GmbH
DE
X
X
www.dmg-dental.com
Composites
Gesellschaft für Dentale
Forschung und
Innovationen mbH
DE
X
www.gdfmbh.com
Composites
Hager & Werken GmbH
& Co. KG
DE
X
www.hagerwerken.de
Composites
Harvard Dental
International GmbH
DE
X
www.harvard-dentalinternational.de
Glass ionomers
Heraeus Kulzer GmbH
DE
X
www.heraeusdental.com
Composites
Dr. Ihde Dental GmbH
DE
X
www.implant.com
Composites, glass
ionomers, ceramics
compomers
Indigodental GmbH &
Co. KG
DE
X
X
www.indigodental.com
Composites,
compomers
Ivoclar Vivadent GmbH
DE
X
X
www.ivoclarvivadent.d
e
Composites,
compomers
Jeneric/Pentron GmbH
DE
X
www.jenericpentron.de
Composites
KANIEDENTA GmbH &
Co. KG
DE
X
www.kaniedenta.de
Composites,
compomers
Kuraray Europe GmbH
DE
X
www.kuraray-dental.eu
Composites
M+W Dental Müller &
Weygandt GmbH
DE
X
www.mwdental.de
Composites
Kaniedenta
Dentalmedizinische
Erzeugnisse GmbH & Co.
KG
DE
X
www.kaniedenta.de
Composites,
compomers
Merz Dental GmbH
DE
X
www.merz-dental.de
S&C Polymer GmbH
DE
X
http://www.scpolymer.com/
Composites
Voco GmbH
DE
X
www.voco.de
Composites, glass
ionomers, compomers
R-dental
Dentalerzeugnisse
GmbH
DE
X
www.r-dental.com
Composites
Company
X
X
204 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Types of materials
Annex E – Market review of dental amalgam and mercury-free alternatives
Company
Country
Dental
amalgam*
Hg-free
filling
materials
Website
X
www.schott.com/epack
aging
Composites,
compomers, glass
ionomers
X
http://www.shofu.de
Composites,
compomers, glass
ionomers
Types of materials
SCHOTT Electronic
Packaging GmbH
DE
Shofu Dental GmbH
DE
SPEIKO-Dr. Speier
GmbH
DE
X
www.speiko.de
Composites
Tokuyama Dental
Deutschland GmbH
DE
X
www.tokuyamadental.de
Composites,
compomers, glass
ionomers
UP Dental GmbH
DE
X
www.updental.de
Composites
Willmann & Pein GmbH
DE
X
www.wp-dental.de
Composites,
compomers, glass
ionomers
Madespa S.A
ES
X
www.madespa.com
Composites
Laboratorios Normon
ES
X
Stick Tech Ltd.
FR
X
www.sticktech.com
Composites
ATO Zizine
FR
X
www.zizine.com
Composites, glass
ionomers, adhesives
FAST SPLINT
FR
X
www.fast-splint.com
Composites
Générique International
FR
X
www.generiqueinterna
tional.com
Composites
ITENA
FR
X
www.itena-clinical.co
Composites
Septodont Holding
FR
X
www.septodont.com
Composites
Dentoria SAS
FR
X
www.dentoria.com
Composites
DMP Dental Materials
Ltd
GR
X
X
www.dmpdental.com
Composites
Kerr
IT
X
X
www.kerrhawe.com
Composites
OGNA SPA
IT
X
www.ogna.it
Composites
WORLD WORK SRL
IT
UAB "MEDICINOS
LINIJA"
LT
Cavex Holland BV
NL
GCP DENTAL B.V.
NL
M&R Claushuis B.V
NL
X
Nordiska Dental AB
SE
X
X
www.dental-im.com
Composites,
compomers
Ardent AB
SE
X
X
www.ardent.se
Composites,
compomers
X
X
X
X
X
X
Composites
www.worldwork.it
X
www.i-dental.lt
Composites, glass
ionomers
X
www.cavex.nl
Composites, glass
ionomers
X
www.gcp-dental.com
Glass ionomers
http://www.mrclaushui
s.com
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 205
Annex E – Market review of dental amalgam and mercury-free alternatives
Company
Country
Dental
amalgam*
Hg-free
filling
materials
Website
Types of materials
ADVANCED
HEALTHCARE LTD.
UK
X
www.ahl.uk.com
Composites, glass
ionomers
MEDICEPT UK LTD
UK
X
www.mediceptdental.c
o.uk
Composites
Perfection Plus Ltd.
UK
X
www.perfectionplus.co
m
Composites
PSP Dental Co. Ltd.
UK
X
www.pspdentalco.com
Composites, glass
ionomers
TECHNICAL & GENERAL
Ltd.
UK
X
www.tgdent.com
Composites, glass
ionomers
Uno Dent
UK
X
http://www.unodent.co
m
Composites, glass
ionomers
www.cooksondental.co
m
Amalgam alloy
powders
(silver/copper/tin) (in
bulk form and in
capsules) and precious
metal alloys for crown
and bridge work
Cookson Precious Metals
Ltd
UK
X
*In capsules or in bulk form
206 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Annex F - Additional data on environmental costs of dental amalgam use
Annex F: Additional data on environmental
costs of dental amalgam use
This annex provides a compilation of data on costs associated with the environmental impacts of
dental amalgam.
Environmental costs incurred by dentists
Environmental costs incurred by dentists mainly include costs for the installation and
maintenance of amalgam separators and costs for the collection and treatment of amalgam
waste as hazardous waste. These costs result from the need for dental practices to comply with
EU waste legislation, which considers dental amalgam waste as hazardous waste. It can be
assumed that such costs are to some extent included in the dentists’ fees.
Cost of amalgam separators
A study carried out by the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA)389 estimated the cost of
amalgam separators through their life-cycle, including purchase or lease, installation,
maintenance, replacement, transportation and recycling costs. The table below shows the
estimated costs, per size of dental office and per life-cycle stage. The distribution of costs
indicates that costs of amalgam separators are very much dependent on the size of dental offices
as well as the installed model. In addition, the amount of wastewater discharged determines the
needs for maintenance and replacements (e.g. of traps and filters).
Table 29: Estimated annual costs for amalgam separators by size of dental office (2008)
Type of cost
Small (1-4 chairs)
Medium (5-12 chairs)
Large (+12 chairs)
$228–$1,370
(€159-€955)
$760–$2,510
(€530-€1,749)
$2,850–$10,000
(€1,986-€6,969)
Installation
$114–$228
(€79-€159)
$143–$297
(€100-€207)
$228–$1,140
(€159- €794)
Maintenance
$0–$228
(€0-€159)
$0–$228
(€0-€159)
$0–$228
(€0-€159)
Replacement
$57–$856
(€34-€597)
$86–$856
(€60-€597)
$571–$2,400
(€398-€1,673)
Purchase
$211–$1,073
$293–$1,110
(€147-€748)
(€204-€767)
Source: US EPA (2008), Health Services Industry Detailed Study – Dental Amalgam
Estimated
annual cost
$1,990–$4,630
(€1,387-€3,227)
389
US EPA (2008), Health Services Industry Detailed Study – Dental Amalgam
(http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/lawsguidance/cwa/304m/upload/2008_09_08_guide_304m_2008_hsi-dental200809.pdf)
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 207
Annex F - Additional data on environmental costs of dental amalgam use
A report for the European Commission in 2008390, estimated the cost of amalgam separators at
EUR 400-500 per year, including installation, servicing, in-situ evaluation of filter efficiency and
accreditation, based on information from Denmark.
Costs of hazardous waste management
The current and historical use of dental amalgam results in the need to separately collect and
treat dental amalgam waste as hazardous waste. This mainly includes surplus amalgam waste
from sludge accumulated in amalgam separators and chair-side traps and, to a lesser extent,
solid waste from the preparation of new amalgam. Indicative annual waste management costs
provided by some Member States as part of this study are shown in Table 30.
Table 30: Cost of dental amalgam waste management for dentists
Country
Austria
Average cost per year
100 EUR
Germany
0-600 EUR
Ireland
500 EUR
Malta
250 EUR
Sweden
100 EUR
UK
600EUR
Average
258 - 358 EUR
It is important to point out that these costs cannot be attributed solely to dental amalgam waste,
since amalgam separators also trap waste from Hg-free materials.
390
COWI/Concorde (2008) Options for reducing mercury use in products and applications, and the fate of mercury
already circulating in society. Report for DG ENV
208 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Annex F - Additional data on environmental costs of dental amalgam use
Environmental costs incurred by crematoria
Environmental costs incurred by crematoria correspond to the installation and maintenance of
technical devices to capture mercury in flue gases and disposal of captured mercury as hazardous
waste. According to Defra391, such costs are partly or fully passed on to crematoria’s customers.
Estimates of costs for different abatement measures are presented in the table below.
Table 31: Cost of strategies to avoid Hg pollution related to cremation
Option
Geographical scope/
year
Cost (EUR /kg Hg )
Reduction potential
Reference
Remove dental
amalgam fillings at
death
Sweden, estimated
2004
400
Large
Hylander et al,
392
2006
Flue gas cleaning
with carbon at
crematoria
Sweden, estimated
2004
170,000–340,000
Medium/Large
Hylander et al, 2006
Flue gas cleaning
with carbon at
crematoria
UK, estimated 2004
29,000
Medium/Large
Hylander et al, 2006
OSPAR Convention
Area, 2003
25,000 to 37,000
Medium/ Large
OSPAR Convention
Area, 2003
25,000 to 37,000
Remove mercury
from crematoria
gases (cold start
Derived from
393
OSPAR 2003
furnace)
Remove mercury
from crematoria
gases (warm start
furnace)
Medium/
Derived from
Large
OSPAR 2003
The report conducted by COWI/Concorde394 for the European Commission provides estimates on
the cost of bag filters with carbon injection in Denmark (considered as one of the most relevant
technologies). The cost of this type of installation is more expensive in comparison to similar
industrial installations due to additional costs that arise from works that are carried out to
improve the aesthetics. For crematoria that already have bag filters installed, COWI/Concorde
estimated the cost of adding a carbon dispenser at approximately EUR 8,000 per kg Hg (EUR 22
391
Public consultations organised by Defra in 2003 and 2004 concerning mercury abatement from crematoria in the UK
392
Hylander LD and Goodsite ME (2006) Environmental costs of mercury pollution. Science of the Total Environment,
368: 352-370 (http://www.elsevier.com/authored_subject_sections/P09/misc/STOTENbestpaper.pdf)
393
OSPAR (2003) Mercury emissions from crematoria and their control in the OSPAR Convention Area. OSPAR
Commission, London
394
COWI/Concorde (2008) Options for reducing mercury use in products and applications, and the fate of mercury
already circulating in society
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 209
Annex F - Additional data on environmental costs of dental amalgam use
per cremation) in Denmark and approximately EUR 17,000 per kg Hg in the UK (EUR 45 per
cremation) for a 90% Hg removal efficiency.
A study carried out in 1999395 in the UK estimates the additional cost per cremation if gascleaning techniques are installed in crematoria within the range £47-67 (EUR 33-46) per
cremation. The exact value depends on the number of cremations carried out.
According to Federutility-SEFIT396, in Italy a common technique for reducing mercury air
emissions from crematoria is the injection of chemicals (normally sorbalite) before the filtration
process. The additional average cost of such a system is estimated at EUR 80,000-100,000 (excl.
VAT) whereas the total cost of a filtration system is estimated at EUR 250,000-300,000 (excl.
VAT) per cremator. The costs of maintenance are not included. The cost of sorbalite is
approximately EUR 3 per cremation.
The Dutch manufacturer of cremators Facultatieve Technologies397 estimates the costs for the
installation of FGT (Flue Gas Treatment) at about EUR 350,000 per cremator (excl. VAT).
The use of activated carbon or specific chemicals for capturing mercury in flue gases results in a
significant increase in the volume of hazardous waste and thereby in the disposal cost, as
compared to the same weight of mercury disposed of as mercury waste in dental clinics.
Environmental costs related to sewage sludge
management options
Estimates on the cost of switching from agricultural use of sludge (landspreading) to other
disposal routes are presented in Table 32 below.
Table 32: Costs to switch from agricultural use of sludge (landspreading) to other sludge
management methods (EUR/t dry solids)
Member State
From land-spreading to landfill
From land-spreading to
co-incineration
From land-spreading to
mono-incineration
Austria
124
146
222
Belgium
130
152
233
Denmark
163
183
286
Finland
146
167
258
France
130
152
233
Germany
122
145
220
Greece
111
135
202
395
FBCA (2000) The Federation of British Cremation Authorities Statistics 1999, Resugram 43. 27-30, cited in DEFRA
(2003) Mercury Emissions from crematoria, Consultation an assessment by the Environment Agency’s Local Authority
Unit
396
Questionnaire sent in the context of this study.
397
Questionnaire sent in the context of this study.
210 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Annex F - Additional data on environmental costs of dental amalgam use
Member State
From land-spreading to landfill
From land-spreading to
co-incineration
From land-spreading to
mono-incineration
Ireland
148
169
261
Italy
124
146
222
Luxembourg
136
157
242
Netherlands
121
144
218
Portugal
104
128
190
Spain
114
137
206
Sweden
133
155
238
United Kingdom
117
140
211
Bulgaria
64
91
126
Cyprus
107
131
195
Czech Republic
87
113
163
Estonia
93
118
172
Hungary
85
111
160
Latvia
90
116
168
Lithuania
81
107
154
Malta
94
119
174
Poland
84
110
158
Romania
76
102
145
Slovakia
85
111
160
Slovenia
99
124
183
110
134
200
EU average
Source: Milieu et al (2010), Environmental, economic and social impacts of the use of sewage sludge on land, Part II,
Table 47. Report for DG ENV (http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/sludge/pdf/part_ii_report.pdf)
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 211
Annex G – Market review of button cell batteries in the EU
Annex G: Market review of button cell
batteries in EU
PRODCOM data on button cells
PRODCOM classifies button cells in the category 31.40.11 ‘Primary cells and primary batteries’. In
its subcategories, different types of button cells are listed as presented in Table 33 below.
Table 33: PRODCOM classification of button cells
PRODCOM
Code
PRODCOM category
31.40.11.12
Alkaline primary cells and primary batteries with a manganese dioxide cathode, button cells
31.40.11.17
Non-alkaline primary cells and primary batteries with a manganese dioxide cathode, button
cells
31.40.11.25
Primary cells and primary batteries with a mercuric oxide cathode, button cells
31.40.11.35
Primary cells and primary batteries with a silver oxide cathode, button cells
31.40.11.52
Lithium primary cells and primary batteries, button cells
31.40.11.56
Air-zinc primary cells and primary batteries, button cells
Although PRODCOM statistics are used and referenced in other EU policy documents regarding
trade and economic policy, it does have its limitations. Many data points are unknown,
estimated, confidential and therefore not available.
At the time of drafting this report, PRODCOM statistics for category 31.40.11 were only available
for years up to 2007 and not later. As shown in Figure 17 below, majority of the button cells
placed on the EU market from 2004 until 2007 were manufactured locally.
212 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Annex G – Market review of button cell batteries in the EU
Figure 17: EU import, export and production of button cells in million units (Source:
PRODCOM)
1 600
1 400
1 200
1 000
800
600
400
200
0
2004
2005
Export
2006
Import
2007
Produced
Table 34 presents the quantity (million units) of different types of button cells placed on the EU
market from 2004 until 2007. The overall button cells market decreased by around 26% between
2004 and 2006. However, it is reported that from 2006 to 2007, the button cell market in EU grew
by approximately 145%; this huge increase is in sharp contrast with the declining market trend
from 2004 till 2006.
Since 2008, PRODCOM classifies button cells in the broad category NACE 27.20 ‘manufacture of
batteries and accumulators’ and there is, no longer a detailed level of segregation such as for the
data reported under category 31.40.11 until 2007.
Table 34: Quantity (million units) of different types of button cells placed on the EU market
from 2004 until 2007 (Source: PRODCOM)
Button cell type
2004
2005
2006
2007
Alkaline
287
266
368
465
Mercury oxide
0.12
1.02
0.35
0.29
Silver oxide
47
67
75
78
Lithium
163
205
194
191
Zinc air
447
243
60
973
Total
943
782
697
1 706
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 213
Annex G – Market review of button cell batteries in the EU
IMTS data on mercury oxide batteries398
Table 35: EU statistics for import and export of mercury oxide batteries as reported by IMTS
for the period 2007-2010 (button cells as well as larger batteries)
Year
Trade Flow
Trade partner
Net Weight (kg)
Trade Quantity (number
of units)
2007
Export
World
109 510
175 743
2007
Import
Brazil
567 900
1 945 715
2007
Import
China
334 800
6 771 244
2007
Import
World
2 098 272
9 154 105
2008
Export
World
148 575
246 088
2008
Import
China
478 600
7 019 649
2008
Import
World
945 660
7 566 768
2009
Export
World
67 327
77 545
2009
Import
China
550 100
15 906 897
2009
Import
World
561 619
16 513 364
2010
Export
World
278 853
446 765
2010
Import
China
519 100
6 000 009
2010
Import
World
532 418
6 847 636
Button cells market in France
ADEME399 reported (based on the national register of producers) the quantities of all portable
batteries placed in France in 2010400 as per following:
Alkaline portable batteries: 880 691 106 units (22 098 tonnes)
Zinc-air portable batteries: 51 645 215 units (124 tonnes)
Lithium portable batteries: 66 271 022 units (405 tonnes)
Silver-oxide portable batteries : 16 375 435 units (47 tonnes)
Other portable batteries: 123 925 units (6 tonnes).
The above statistics do not however provide the share of button cells in the overall quantities of
portables batteries placed in France in 2010. This information therefore cannot be further used in
the analysis performed in this study.
398
Source: http://comtrade.un.org (accessed 25 March 2012)
399
Agence de l'Environnement et de la Maîtrise de l'Énergie (French Environment and Energy Management Agency)
400
Source: ADEME, Annexes relatives au rapport annuel des piles et accumulateurs, 2010
(http://www2.ademe.fr/servlet/getDoc?cid=96&m=3&id=79291&p1=30&ref=12441)
214 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Annex G – Market review of button cell batteries in the EU
ADEME further reported that the total quantity of waste button cells treated in France in 2010
was 28 tonnes (of which 25 tonnes originated in France whereas the remaining 3 tonnes was
imported from other countries). This information is in line with the 31 tonnes of button cells
waste recycled in France in 2009, as reported by EBRA (see Table 38).
Stakeholders inputs on button cells market in EU
EPBA reported the sales of its member companies for different types of button cells placed on
the EU market during the past seven (see Table 36 below). These trends show that the button
cells market in EU in year 2010 was 29% higher than in 2004. They also show that, while the
alkaline button cells market has been stable, the market for zinc-air and lithium button cells has
increased since 2007.
Figure 18: Sales (in million units) of EPBA member companies for different types of button
cells sold in EU for the period 2004-2010 (Source: EPBA)
600
500
Units sold
400
300
200
100
0
2004
2005
Alkaline
2006
AgO
2007
2008
Lithium
ZnO
2009
2010
Total
Table 36: Sales (in ‘000 units) of EPBA member companies for different button cell
technologies in EU in 2010 (Source: EPBA)
Alkaline
Member State
Lithium
Zinc Air
Silver Oxide
Typical Hg content (% by weight)
Total
0-0.9%
0%
0-2%
0-1%
Austria
431
1 610
4 891
759
7 692
Belgium
1 118
3 101
4 111
3 845
12 175
Bulgaria
8
20
13
10
51
Cyprus
4
0
1
10
26
Czech Republic
723
1 296
1 824
1 185
5 027
Denmark
188
1 041
19 750
603
21 582
Estonia
10
17
14
89
503
Finland
552
1 697
1 685
479
4 413
France
4 825
12 172
36 827
10 370
64 194
Germany
6 246
38 382
53 792
20 684
119 105
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 215
Annex G – Market review of button cell batteries in the EU
Alkaline
Member State
Lithium
Zinc Air
Silver Oxide
Typical Hg content (% by weight)
Total
0-0.9%
0%
0-2%
0-1%
Greece
563
1 145
1 605
2 226
5 539
Hungary
623
672
1 248
465
3 008
Ireland
55
175
2 091
228
2 550
Italy
3 753
7 817
14 709
13 099
39 378
Latvia
254
164
0
32
450
Lithuania
19
22
8
7
57
Luxembourg
42
111
122
47
32
Malta
12
3
0
3
66
Netherlands
802
3 314
21 626
1 887
27 629
4 165
2 128
5 170
911
12 374
Portugal
18
422
3 361
65
4 615
Romania
403
597
1 080
495
2 575
Slovakia
245
502
365
527
1 638
Slovenia
86
254
360
200
900
Spain
1 711
3 628
26 301
5 410
37 050
Sweden
736
2 834
5 692
1 430
10 692
UK
4 693
22 557
60 863
13 680
101 792
EU-27
32 818
106 284
267 902
79 601
486 605
Poland
Nowadays an increasing number of manufacturers are producing Hg-free versions of various
button cells types. It must however be noted that button cells with different chemistries
generally are not interchangeable, e.g. hearing aids cannot be run with silver-oxide or lithium
button cells. Therefore, the development of Hg-free alternatives must be carried out for each
chemistry of button cells.
Lithium button cells
All the lithium button cells sold in the EU market are already completely Hg-free.
Silver-oxide button cells
Four out of the five manufacturers who responded to the questionnaire survey confirmed that
the performance parameters such as self-discharge, leak resistance, capacity and pulse capability
of Hg-free silver-oxide button cells are the same for all application areas as compared to
traditional mercury-containing silver-oxide button cells. The Hg-free alternatives also have a
similar lifetime during use phase as compared to the mercury-containing silver-oxide button
cells. Although all the five manufacturers pointed out that at present, the cost of the Hg-free
216 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Annex G – Market review of button cell batteries in the EU
alternatives is a bit higher (approximately 10% higher and potentially decreasing to 5% in future)
than the mercury-containing versions, the cost difference is decreasing. One of the
manufacturers suggested that additional process steps could lead to overall improvement of
productivity of the Hg-free button cells. The most significant parameter influencing the cost of
these button cells is the high price of raw materials such as silver, which however has the same
effect on the price of both mercury-containing and Hg-free button cells.
Four out of the five manufacturers who responded to the questionnaire survey expect the share
of Hg-free button cells to increase in the silver-oxide button cells market in EU401.
Alkaline button cells
Four out of the five manufacturers who responded to the questionnaire survey confirmed that
today it is technically feasible to replace mercury-containing alkaline button cells by their Hg-free
alternatives for all applications. They remarked that the performance level of Hg-free alkaline
button cells is already similar to the mercury-containing alkaline button cells.
One of the manufacturers pointed out that Hg-free alkaline button cells have some leakage
issues and are therefore currently not safe to be used for certain specialised high drain
applications requiring very low impedance. Another manufacturer who responded to the
questionnaire survey, however, claimed that their company has successfully developed and
introduced in the market Hg-free alkaline button cells for all applications and that their Hg-free
button cells are actually more leakage-resistant than mercury-containing ones (the comparative
results of internal leakage tests were provided to BIO).
Similar to Hg-free silver-oxide button cells, all five manufacturers commented that at present the
cost of the Hg-free alternatives is a bit higher (approximately 10% higher and potentially
decreasing to 5% in future) than the mercury-containing alkaline button cells.
Four out of the five manufacturers who responded to the questionnaire survey expect the share
of Hg-free button cells batteries to increase in the alkaline button cells market in EU402.
Zinc-air button cells
Four out of the five manufacturers who responded to the questionnaire survey confirmed that
today it is technically feasible to replace mercury-containing zinc-air button cells by their Hg-free
alternatives for all applications. One of the manufacturers however pointed out that the capacity
and pulse performance of Hg-free zinc-air button cells still needs to be improved to bring it to the
level offered by mercury-containing zinc-air button cells.
Similar to Hg-free silver-oxide and alkaline button cells, all five manufacturers commented that
at present the cost of the Hg-free alternatives is a bit higher (approximately 10% higher and
potentially decreasing to 5% in future) than the mercury-containing zinc-air button cells. They
further added that projected productivity improvements and economies of scale would however
401
For example: In 2005, Sony developed the first mercury-free silver oxide button cell and by 2007, Seiko Watch
Corporation achieved the complete switchover from mercury-containing silver oxide button cells to their mercury free
alternatives in quartz watches.
402
For example in 2009, Sony developed the first Hg-free alkaline button cell. Today, most of the manufacturers of
button cells are manufacturing mercury-free alkaline button cells and are primarily based in Asia (mainly China).
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 217
Annex G – Market review of button cell batteries in the EU
bring down the cost of manufacturing Hg-free zinc-air button cells to the same level as the
mercury-containing ones.
Four out of the five manufacturers who responded to the questionnaire survey expect the share
of Hg-free button cells batteries to increase in the zinc-air button cells market in EU.
Button cells waste management in EU
Many compliance organisations in EU are involved in the collection of waste batteries in each of
the Member States. The collected waste button cells are then sent to recycling plants. A list of
the main recycling companies engaged in the recycling of different types of button cells waste
arising in EU is provided in the table below.
Table 37: Main companies involved in the recycling of button cell batteries waste arising in
EU403
Mercury oxide
Company
Country
404
AgO
ZnO
Alkaline
Typical Hg content (% by weight)
30-40%
0-1%
0-2%
0-0.9%
Batrec Industrie Ag
Switzerland
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Recypilas S.A.
Spain
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Claushuis Metaalmaatschappij B.V.
Netherlands
Yes
Yes
Engelhard
EU
Indaver Relight Nv
Belgium
Inmetco
USA
MBM
Germany
Mercury Recycling Ltd.
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
United Kingdom
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
NQR GmbH
Germany
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Quicksilver Recovery Services
United Kingdom
Yes
Yes
Trienekens AG
Switzerland
Yes
RECYKLACE EKOVUK
Czech Republic
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Based on this list, from a technology point of view, it is evident that recycling technologies exist
for all different types of button cells currently marketed in EU.
403
Source : EPBA (2009)
404
Mercury oxide button cell batteries are now prohibited except for a few specific applications, but such batteries are
still present in the waste stream
218 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Annex G – Market review of button cell batteries in the EU
Quantities of button cell battery waste (as per country of origin) recycled in the EU by EBRA
member companies for three Member States in 2009 are presented in the table below.
Table 38: Quantities of button cell battery waste recycled (in tonnes) as per country of origin
of button cell battery waste in 2009 (Source: EBRA)
Member State
Quantity recycled (in tonnes)
France
31
Netherlands
16
Spain
10
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 219
Annex H - Use of amalgam separators
Annex H: Use of amalgam separators
Table 39: Use of amalgam separators in EU27
Country
Austria
Belgium
Bulgaria
Czech
Republic
Cyprus
Legal
requirement to
install
amalgam
separators
Yes
Yes
Estimated %
dental clinics
equipped with
amalgam
separators
Additional
requirements
100%
Required in new and
existing dental
offices; 95% min
efficiency;
documented
evidence of proper
maintenance
required; max
concentration of Hg:
0.01 mg/l
Maintenance
required by law,
with documented
evidence and
periodic
inspections of
authorities
concerning the
management of
waste.
‘near 100%’
Flanders:
certification; max
concentration of Hg:
0.01 mg/l
Walloon Region:
max concentration
of Hg: 0.3 mg/l
Brussels: max
concentration of Hg:
0.03 mg/l
In Brussels:
Maintenance
required by law.
Maintenance
requirements and
actual efficiency
levels
Information
source
Questionnaire
2011 (Dental
Chamber and
Ministry of the
Environment)
Questionnaire
2011 (IGBE
Brussels; DGARNE
- DPEAI – DCC)
No
Amalgam
separators are
advised but are not
yet mandatory.
However, all modern
dental chairs are
equipped with
amalgam
separators.
Questionnaire
2011 (Ministry of
the Environment)
Yes
100%
Required for new
and existing
practices.
Min efficiency: 95%
Hg limit value: 0.05
mg/l
Questionnaire
2011 (Ministry of
the Environment)
and EC 2005
survey
No
Most dental
clinics have
modern
equipment and
therefore
amalgam
separators
Periodic
inspections are
carried out by
public authorities.
220 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Questionnaire
2011 (Ministry of
the Environment)
and EC 2005
survey
Annex H - Use of amalgam separators
Estimated %
dental clinics
equipped with
amalgam
separators
Additional
requirements
No
100%
No obligatory legal
requirement,
however in practice
there are separators
in every dental clinic
due to a guidance
document from the
Ministry of The
Environment. All
municipalities follow
this guidance, as
they are in charge of
the waste water
treatment and
surface water quality
within their
municipality.
Estonia
No
Amalgam
separators and
filters installed
only in a few
facilities.
France
Yes
‘near 100%’
Country
Denmark
Finland
Germany
Legal
requirement to
install
amalgam
separators
Yes
Yes
100%
100%
Maintenance
requirements and
actual efficiency
levels
Periodic
inspections are
carried out by
public authorities.
Information
source
Questionnaire
2011 (Danish EPA)
EC 2005 survey
95% min efficiency
French authorities
(stakeholder
consultation 2012)
Required for new
and existing dental
practices.
95% min efficiency
Questionnaire
2011 (SYKE) and
EC 2005 survey
95% min efficiency;
ISO 11143; max
concentration of Hg:
0.005 mg/l
Inspection by
qualified
technicians of
national authorities
is carried out every
3-5 years.
Questionnaire
2011 (German
Dental
Association)
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 221
Annex H - Use of amalgam separators
Country
Greece
Hungary
Ireland
Italy
Legal
requirement to
install
amalgam
separators
Estimated %
dental clinics
equipped with
amalgam
separators
No
Amalgam
separators
installed in most
recent facilities
No
New and modern
dental clinics tend
to be equipped
with amalgam
separators.
Additional
requirements
90%
Information
source
A survey conducted
in the Thessaloniki
urban area in 2006,
it was noted that
none of the dental
units used
amalgam chariside
traps or amalgam
separators. Some
had the
appropriate
equipment, but
used the traps only
to avoid clogging in
the pipes, and the
contents were
washed out in the
washstands of the
dental units. Hgbearing dental
wastes were not
managed properly
by 80% of dentists
and metalbearing
waste was handled
in accordance with
internationally
established best
management
practices by less
than 50% of
405
dentists .
EC 2005 survey;
Kontogianni et al.
2008 (Survey on
dental waste
management in
the Thessaloniki
urban area)
The installation of
amalgam separators
is only
recommended and
therefore not
uniformly applied.
no (but
voluntary
initiatives)
Yes
Maintenance
requirements and
actual efficiency
levels
Required in existing
and new dental
practices
Questionnaire
2011 (Ministry of
the Environment)
Periodic
inspections by
public authorities
are carried out.
Questionnaire
2011 (Ministry of
the
Environment)and
EC 2005 survey
Yearly Inspections
by ASL (local
health authority)
on the waste
Questionnaire
2011 (Italian
Dental Assoc.)
405
Dental waste mismanagement was found to be primarily due to the lack of general awareness among dentists that
their waste is hazardous and should be managed properly and a lack of regulatory control and support by
governmental agencies and dentistry associations.
222 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Annex H - Use of amalgam separators
Country
Legal
requirement to
install
amalgam
separators
Estimated %
dental clinics
equipped with
amalgam
separators
Additional
requirements
Maintenance
requirements and
actual efficiency
levels
Information
source
procedures is
requried by law
Latvia
Yes
Lithuania
No
Luxembo
urg
?
100%
Maintenance
required by law,
with documented
evidence.
Questionnaire
2011 (Ministry of
the Environment)
Questionnaire
2011 (Ministry of
the Environment)
?
Malta
Yes
100%
Netherla
nds
Yes
90% (in 2005)
Poland
No
Portugal
Yes
90% (in 2005)
Romania
?
?
Slovakia
No
New facilities
only
Slovenia
Required in existing
and new dental
practices
Yes
95%
Documented
evidence of
amalgam
separators'
maintenance
required by law.
Yearly inspections
by authorities are
carried out and the
results obtained
show a good level
of compliance. If a
clinic does not
comply it is shut
down until it
complies with
specifications.
Questionnaire
2011 (Ministry of
the Environment)
95% min efficiency
EC 2005 survey
Recommended by
the national
authorities. A
regulatory proposal
was drafted to make
it obligatory but has
not been adopted to
date.
Verbal
information from
the Polish
Chamber of
Physicians and
Dentists
EC 2005 survey
EC 2005 survey
Required for new
and existing dental
practices.
85% min efficiency
Periodic
inspections are
carried out by the
public authorities.
Questionnaire
2011 (Ministry of
the Environment)
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 223
Annex H - Use of amalgam separators
Country
Legal
requirement to
install
amalgam
separators
Estimated %
dental clinics
equipped with
amalgam
separators
Additional
requirements
Maintenance
requirements and
actual efficiency
levels
Information
source
Hg limit value: ,01
mg/L.
Spain
Sweden
United
Kingdom
?
Yes
Yes
?
100%
99%
95% min efficiency
The dentists in
Sweden have an
obligation to
inspect their own
equipment.
Inspections are also
made by the local
authorities and by
the suppliers of
amalgam
separators.
Questionnaire
2011 (KEMI)
Required for new
and existing dental
practices
95% min efficiency
Separators should
meet the
requirements of
British Standard
‘Dental Equipment –
Amalgam
Separators’ (BS ISO
EN 111:43 as
amended by Cor.
1:2000)
Documented
evidence of proper
maintenance
required.
Adequate
maintenance is
required by law,
with documented
evidence of it.
Periodic inspection
of waste
management in
separators is
already in place
across most of the
UK and steps are
being taken to
bring this into
scope where it is
not yet part of
current monitoring
arrangements.
Questionnaire
2011 (DEFRA)
224 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Annex I - Amalgam waste data
Annex I: Amalgam waste data
Table 40: Estimated amounts of dental amalgam waste produced in EU Member States
Year
Dental
amalgam
waste
produced
(kg/year)
Mercury
in waste
produced
(kg/year)*
Austria
2010
700
42
Questionnaire 2011- Dental chamber
100% is recycled
Belgium
2005
5,000
300
COWI/Concorde 2008: the waste consists of amalgam + cassette
from separator
100% collected as hazardous waste and exported for recycling
Questionnaire 2011 - IBGE: 1,088 kg dental amalgam waste
produced in the Brussels region in 2009
2009
2,370
142
Questionnaire 2011 - Ministry of the Environment
78% collected as hazardous waste, of which 96% exported (to AT or
SK)
Member
State
Comments / Data sources
Bulgaria
Czech
Republic
Cyprus
900-1,900
COWI/Concorde 2008: 0.8-1.7 t (90%) exported for recovery, 0.050.1 t landfilled or incinerated
Denmark
2005
Estonia
2010
20
1
France
2005
42,80058,000
2,5683,480
Association Scientifique et Technique pour l'Eau et l'Environnement
2005 (ASTEEE)
(http://www.astee.org/conferences/2005_paris/diaporamas/40.pdf)
100% recycled
Finland
2009
3,500
1,750
Questionnaire 2011 - Finish Institute for the Environment (SYKE)
100% collected as hazardous waste, of which 41% exported. A small
amount of the waste is also recycled inside the country (unknown
quantities). Hg content estimated at 50%.
Germany
2010
25,00030,000
1,2502,400
Questionnaire 2011 - German dental associations (BZÄK and VDDI).
Hg content estimated at 5-8% of the waste.
100% recycled
2006
4
2
COWI/Concorde 2008 - Probably only covers solid waste (surplus of
mixed amalgam from preparation)
Questionnaire 2011 - Ministry of the Environment
100% collected as hazardous waste, of which 15% exported
Greece
Hungary
Landfilled or incinerated.
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 225
Annex I - Amalgam waste data
Year
Dental
amalgam
waste
produced
(kg/year)
Mercury
in waste
produced
(kg/year)*
Ireland
2010
2,400
144
Questionnaire 2011 - Ministry of the Environment
100% exported to Germany. Information is based on a limited
survey of commercial medical waste collectors and waste shipment
brokers in relation to EWC 18 01 10.
Italy
2009
1,407
84
Questionnaire 2011 – Ministry of the Environment
Member
State
Comments / Data sources
80% of dental amalgam waste collected as hazardous waste is
either landfilled or incinerated; 20% is recycled
Latvia
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Malta
Netherlands
2003
3,900
2,000
Poland
2009
1,657
99
Questionnaire 2011 – Polish Bureau for Chemical Substances
(Chemikalia). Based on reported data. The value seems very low in
comparison with other MS, therefore the figure estimated by NILU
has been used instead.
7,800
NILU Polska (2010) Cost-benefit analysis of impact on human health
and environment of mercury emission reduction in Poland – Stage 3
(http://www.gios.gov.pl/zalaczniki/artykuly/etap3_20101022.pdf).
Derived from estimates on dental amalgam use.
2006
Portugal
COWI/Concorde 2008
2002
400
24
COWI/Concorde 2008
2009
2,537
152
Questionnaire 2011 - Ministry of the Environment and
COWI/Concorde 2008. Data refers to EWC 18 01 10
In 2006: 68% collected as hazardous waste, of which 93% recycled
in Slovenia, the rest being incinerated or landfilled
2009
6,440
3,220
Questionnaire 2011 - Swedish Chemicals Agency (KEMI). Only
exported quantities (to DE) have been provided but there is also
some domestic treatment. The total amount of dental amalgam
produced may be higher than the value presented here. Hg content
estimated at 50%.
Romania
Slovakia
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
226 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Annex I - Amalgam waste data
Member
State
United
Kingdom
Year
Dental
amalgam
waste
produced
(kg/year)
Mercury
in waste
produced
(kg/year)*
2008
94,192
5,652
Comments / Data sources
Questionnaire 2011 - British Dental Association
Data for England & Wales only, corresponding to EWC Code
18.01.10. Treatment methods in 2008:
5.14 t - Incineration with energy recovery (5%)
1.312 t - Incineration without energy recovery (1%)
7.13 t - Recycling / reuse (8%)
66.76 t - Transfer (Disposal) (71%)
13.85 t - Transfer (Recovery) (14%)
Questionnaire 2011 – Defra:
Data for Northern Ireland: 2 t of amalgam waste sent to Great
Britain for treatment in 2010.
TOTAL (17 MS)
38,027
47,777
–
*Shaded cells correspond to data estimated by BIO assuming an average Hg content of 6% (based on %
found in DE and FR), most of the waste being assumed to consist of sludge from amalgam separators. Only
for HU the Hg content was assumed at 50% since the small quantity of waste is supposed to be mainly
surplus mixed amalgam from preparation.
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 227
Annex J - Sewage sludge management statistics
Annex J: Sewage sludge management
statistics
Table 41: Sewage sludge produced in the Member States and treatment methods 2006-2009
(Source: Eurostat)
1 - Agricultural use of sewage sludge from urban wastewater
2 - Composting of sewage sludge from urban wastewater
3 - Incineration of sewage sludge from urban wastewater
4 - Landfill of sewage sludge from urban wastewater
5 - Other methods of disposal of sewage sludge from urban wastewater
228 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Annex J - Sewage sludge management statistics
2006
1
Belgium
Bulgaria
4
5
122
10
0
68
0
44
% of total
8%
0%
56%
0%
36%
Millions of kg
Millions of kg
% of total
Denmark
3
Millions of kg
% of total
Czech Republic
2
2007
total
2006
12
0
0
16
0
43%
0%
0%
57%
0%
48
90
0
14
23
27%
51%
0%
8%
13%
28
175
Millions of kg
% of total
Germany
Estonia
Millions of kg
612
467
965
5
67
% of total
29%
22%
46%
0%
3%
Millions of kg
% of total
Ireland
3
1
0
4
18
12%
4%
0%
15%
69%
2116
26
Millions of kg
% of total
Greece
Millions of kg
% of total
Spain
France
0
0
0
123
3
0%
0%
0%
98%
2%
Millions of kg
687
0
41
168
169
% of total
65%
0%
4%
16%
16%
126
1065
1
2
3
4
5
total
2007
125
11
0
69
0
45
9%
0%
55%
0%
36%
6
0
0
21
0
22%
0%
0%
78%
0%
55
80
0
9
28
32%
47%
0%
5%
16%
83
22
8
27
59%
16%
6%
19%
593
444
1015
4
29%
22%
49%
0%
27
172
140
2056
3
1
0
5
19
11%
4%
0%
18%
68%
61
5
22
69%
6%
25%
0
0
2
74
58
0%
0%
1%
55%
43%
864
28
88
134
1153
75%
Millions of kg
% of total
Italy
Cyprus
Millions of kg
Millions of kg
% of total
Latvia
Millions of kg
% of total
Lithuania
Millions of kg
% of total
Luxembourg
Millions of kg
% of total
Hungary
9
2
0
0
10
43%
10%
0%
0%
48%
20
5
0
6
0
65%
16%
0%
19%
0%
4
3
1
0
0
50%
38%
13%
0%
0%
Millions of kg
21
31
8
0
% of total
Malta
4
3
1
0
0
50%
38%
13%
0%
0%
8
2
0
0
9
42%
11%
0%
0%
47%
25
7
0
9
0
61%
17%
0%
22%
0%
4
3
1
0
0
50%
38%
13%
0%
0%
148
7
2
77
26
57%
3%
1%
30%
10%
8
19
41
8
260
Millions of kg
% of total
Netherlands
Millions of kg
% of total
Austria
Millions of kg
% of total
Poland
Millions of kg
% of total
Portugal
Romania
Sweden
15
16
4%
4%
39
74
98
25
18
15%
29%
39%
10%
7%
81
28
4
147
241
16%
6%
1%
29%
48%
360
0
0
325
0
14
0%
0%
96%
0%
4%
501
98
25
2
125
284
18%
5%
0%
23%
53%
164
13
12
7%
6%
Millions of kg
Millions of kg
Millions of kg
0
4
145
7
0%
2%
64%
3%
0
0
5
9
6
0%
0%
25%
45%
30%
0
34
0
15
6
0%
62%
0%
27%
11%
339
254
87%
% of total
Finland
325
90%
% of total
% of total
Slovakia
4
1%
Millions of kg
% of total
Slovenia
0
0%
226
20
55
1
3
44
8
1%
3%
44%
8%
0
4
5
9
4
0%
18%
23%
41%
18%
0
37
0
13
5
0%
67%
0%
24%
9%
534
189
100
22
55
Millions of kg
Millions of kg
% of total
United Kingdom Millions of kg
30
0
14%
0%
210
31
217
14%
1809
1825
estimated value
Blank cells: data not available
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 229
Annex J - Sewage sludge management statistics
2008
1
Belgium
Millions of kg
% of total
Bulgaria
Millions of kg
% of total
Czech Republic
Denmark
2
3
2009
4
5
total
2008
135
19
0
72
0
44
14%
0%
53%
0%
33%
11
0
0
18
0
38%
0%
0%
62%
0%
Millions of kg
103
69
3
27
18
% of total
47%
31%
1%
12%
8%
29
1
2
3
0
4
5
total
2009
25
0
14
0
0
11
0
56%
0%
0%
44%
0%
220
Millions of kg
% of total
Germany
Estonia
Millions of kg
588
386
1078
2
% of total
29%
19%
52%
0%
Millions of kg
% of total
Ireland
2054
2
19
0
1
0
9%
86%
0%
5%
0%
22
0
18
0
4
0
0%
82%
0%
18%
0%
22
Millions of kg
% of total
Greece
Millions of kg
% of total
Spain
France
0
0
24
72
40
0%
0%
18%
53%
29%
Millions of kg
927
% of total
80%
1156
512
279
206
90
% of total
47%
26%
19%
8%
Millions of kg
Cyprus
Millions of kg
0
0
40
109
2
0%
0%
26%
72%
1%
995
151
1205
83%
Millions of kg
Italy
136
1087
% of total
Latvia
Millions of kg
% of total
Lithuania
Millions of kg
% of total
Luxembourg
Millions of kg
% of total
Hungary
24
8
0
1
0
73%
24%
0%
3%
0%
5
3
1
0
0
56%
33%
11%
0%
0%
33
17
10
0
1
0
61%
36%
0%
4%
0%
28
9
Millions of kg
% of total
Malta
Millions of kg
% of total
Netherlands
Millions of kg
% of total
Austria
Millions of kg
% of total
Poland
Portugal
0
0
336
0
0
0%
0%
100%
0%
0%
40
57
91
21
43
16%
23%
36%
8%
17%
Millions of kg
112
28
6
92
330
% of total
20%
5%
1%
16%
58%
0
0
0
1
0
0%
0%
0%
100%
0%
1
336
252
568
123
24
9
82
326
22%
4%
2%
15%
58%
564
Millions of kg
% of total
Romania
Millions of kg
% of total
Slovenia
Millions of kg
% of total
Slovakia
0
2
36
1
0%
3%
46%
1%
0
2
7
8
3
0%
10%
35%
40%
15%
79
20
0
16
58
2
0%
13%
48%
2%
0
0
17
5
5
0%
0%
63%
19%
19%
120
27
Millions of kg
% of total
Finland
Millions of kg
Sweden
Millions of kg
% of total
United Kingdom Millions of kg
56
1
26%
0.5%
214
50
212
24%
1814
estimated value
Blank cells: data not available
230 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
1761
Annex J - Sewage sludge management statistics
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 231
Annex K - Mercury content of sewage sludge
Annex K: Mercury content of sewage sludge
Table 42: Estimates of mercury quantities introduced into agricultural soils
Member State
Sewage sludge used in agriculture
(t/year of dry matter)
406
Average Hg content
(mg/kg of dry matter)
Total Hg quantities
407
(kg/year)
Austria
38,400
not available
unknown
Belgium
10,927
1.0
10.9
Bulgaria
11,856
1.2
14.2
Cyprus
3,116
3.1
9.7
Czech Republic
59,983
1.7
102.0
Denmark
82,029
not available
unknown
Estonia
3,316
0.6
2.0
Finland
4,200
0.4
1.7
France
787,500
1.1
866.3
Germany
592,552
0.4
237.0
56
not available
unknown
Hungary
32,813
1.7
55.8
Ireland
26,743
not available
unknown
189,554
1.4
265.4
8,936
4.2
37.5
24,716
0.5
12.4
3,780
not available
unknown
not available
not available
unknown
34
not available
unknown
88,501
4.6
407.1
Greece
Italy
Latvia
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Malta
Netherlands
Poland
406
The data are for years 2006 or 2007, except for Denmark (2002), Finland (2005), Ireland (2003) and Estonia (2005)
407
For year 2006
232 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Annex K - Mercury content of sewage sludge
Member State
Sewage sludge used in agriculture
(t/year of dry matter)
406
Average Hg content
(mg/kg of dry matter)
Total Hg quantities
407
(kg/year)
Portugal
225,300
1.0
225.3
Romania
0
not available
0
Slovakia
33,630
2.7
90.8
Slovenia
18
0.8
0.01
687,037
0.8
549.6
30,000
0.6
18.0
1,050,526
1.2
1,260.6
Total (20 MS)
4,166
408
4,400
Spain
Sweden
UK
Total EU27 (extrapolated)
-
Source: Milieu, WRC, RPA (2010) Environmental, economic and social impacts of the use of sewage sludge on land –
Report for the EC
Data on sewage sludge production: Part I, Table 1
(http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/sludge/pdf/part_i_report.pdf)
Data on Hg content in sludge: Part II, Table 51
(http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/sludge/pdf/part_ii_report.pdf)
408
For the 7 MS where data on Hg content is missing, it has been assumed that this Hg content is equal to the average
value calculated for the 20 other MS
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 233
Annex L - Mercury emissions from crematoria
Annex L: Mercury emissions from crematoria
The table below is a compilation of data on mercury emissions from crematoria. Information sources include national reports under the OSPAR
Convention, the 2011 overview report issued by the OSPAR Convention (‘Overview assessment of implementation reports on OSPAR Recommendation
2003/4 on controlling the dispersal of mercury from crematoria’), responses from stakeholders consulted as part of this study and international cremation
statistics. The data includes some mercury emission estimates developed by BIO for those Member States which did not provide information.
Table 43: Estimates of mercury emissions from crematoria in the EU Member States
Crematoria applying mercury removal techniques
Country
AT
Year
2005
BE
(Walloni
a)
Number of
crematoria
Number of
cremations
Hg
emissions
(kg Hg)
Comments
Crematoria not applying mercury removal techniques
Number of
crematoria
3
Number of
cremations
7
Hg
emissions
(kg Hg)
Comments
40
calc. Umweltbundesamt
2009
Total Hg
emitted
(kg Hg)
Information sources
>40
Min. Env.
(questionnaire reply)
2007
3
9,788
19.6
19.6
OSPAR report 2011
2008
3
10,378
20.8
20.8
OSPAR report 2011
2009
3
10,281
20.6
20.6
OSPAR report 2011
1.2
National report to
OSPAR, 2009
2008
6,356
1.2
1 single concentration
measurement; without
filtration system
1.3
4 concentration
measurements; with filtration
system but filters under
calibration/setting
BE
(Brussels
)
2009
6,348
234 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
1.3
National report to
OSPAR, 2009
Annex L - Mercury emissions from crematoria
Crematoria applying mercury removal techniques
Country
BE
(Flemish
Region)
Information sources
IBGE Brussels
(questionnaire reply)
Number of
crematoria
Number of
cremations
2010
1
6,119
0.15
2 concentration
measurements; with filtration
0.15
2006
6
28,905
1.0
Emission factor: 0.036 g
Hg/cremation
1.0
2007
6
29,877
1.0
1.0
OSPAR report 2011
2008
6
31,690
1.2
1.2
OSPAR report 2011
0
Min. Env.
(questionnaire reply)
Comments
0
Number of
crematoria
Number of
cremations
Hg
emissions
(kg Hg)
Total Hg
emitted
(kg Hg)
Hg
emissions
(kg Hg)
Year
CY
CZ
Crematoria not applying mercury removal techniques
Comments
0
2009
27
86,583
173
No information on the
existence of mercury
removal techniques; Hg
emissions estimated by
BIO assuming 2 g
Hg/cremation
Emission factor: 844 g
Hg/crematorium per year
(for these crematoria:
flue gas cleaning
techniques in place but
not considered as BAT)
Emission factor: 184 g
Hg/crematorium per year
DE
2009
137
462,103
25.4
16
53 968
13.5
DK
2008
2
7,223
0.4 – 0.7
29
34 565
69.1 – 103.7
OSPAR report 2011
International
cremation statistics
173
OSPAR report 2011
38.9
69.5- 104
OSPAR report 2011
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 235
Annex L - Mercury emissions from crematoria
Crematoria applying mercury removal techniques
Country
Year
2011
EE
Number of
crematoria
Number of
cremations
Hg
emissions
(kg Hg)
Crematoria not applying mercury removal techniques
Number of
crematoria
Comments
Not
available
31
2009
FI
2010
2
≈2
≈180
3 crematoria have plans to
install Hg removal devices in
2012-2013
0
Comments
0
2009
ES
Number of
cremations
Hg
emissions
(kg Hg)
6.6
No information on the
existence of mercury
removal techniques; Hg
emissions estimated by
BIO assuming 3.3 kg Hg
per crematoria per
409
year
600
Hg emissions estimated
by BIO assuming 3.3 kg
Hg per crematoria per
year
Total Hg
emitted
(kg Hg)
Information sources
Not
available
EPA (questionnaire
reply)
International
cremation statistics
6.6
OSPAR report 2011
600
2 g Hg per cremation
22
21,068
42
42
3
FR
2010
409
410
10-15
19,500
< 6.7
Limit value of 0.2 mg/Nm was
used to estimate the load of
mercury. This may be an overestimate.
SYKE (questionnaire
reply)
OSPAR report 2011
125-130
132 500
300-400
307-407
This is an average ratio calculated on the basis of data avalable for all MS listed in this table, in the case of crematoria with no Hg removal devices
410
According to information displayed on the website of the French Funeral Information Association (AFIF, http://www.afif.asso.fr/francais/conseils/conseil17.html), only 7 out of 145
crematoria would be equipped with Hg abatement devices. BIO asked AFIF whether such information is up-to-date and accurate, but AFIF could not certify it was the case, noting that
funeral companies do not show a high willingness to communicate on this. Hence, the data included in the latest French report to OSPAR was used instead.
236 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Annex L - Mercury emissions from crematoria
Crematoria applying mercury removal techniques
Country
Year
GR
Number of
crematoria
Number of
cremations
Hg
emissions
(kg Hg)
Crematoria not applying mercury removal techniques
Number of
crematoria
Comments
0
HU
Number of
cremations
Hg
emissions
(kg Hg)
0
2010
13
50,000
100
2009
0
3
3,800
8.1
2010
0
3
3,083
6.5
2010
39
(furnaces)
48,058
48
2007
2,157
<0.004
g/h
< 0.008 kg
2008
2,108
2009
2,267
411
LU
411
Nb of furnaces applying Hg
removal techniques is an
estimate based on the Federal
Utility company’s knowledge
of the market
Hg emissions estimated by
BIO assuming 1 g Hg per
cremation (i.e. 50% capture of
total average Hg body burden)
50
(furnaces)
47,709
0
0
95
Hg emissions estimated
by BIO assuming 2 g
Hg/cremation
Emission Factor NAEI UK
2009 (2.125 g
Hg/cremation)
Nb of furnaces applying
Hg removal techniques is
an estimate based on the
Federal Utility company’s
knowledge of the market
Hg emissions estimated
by BIO assuming 2 g Hg
per cremation
100
Min. Env.
(questionnaire reply)
8.1
OSPAR report 2011
6.5
Min. Env.
(questionnaire reply)
Italian funeral
association – Federal
Utility (questionnaire
reply).
143
3
Limit value : 0.1 mg/Nm
Measured values : <0.001
3
mg/Nm
Operating hours: 2,000 h/year
Information sources
0
IE
IT
Comments
Total Hg
emitted
(kg Hg)
OSPAR report 2011
≈0
OSPAR report 2011
OSPAR report 2011
One crematorium can have several furnaces
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 237
Annex L - Mercury emissions from crematoria
Crematoria applying mercury removal techniques
Country
Year
LT
Number of
crematoria
Number of
cremations
Hg
emissions
(kg Hg)
Comments
Crematoria not applying mercury removal techniques
Number of
crematoria
0
LV
2009
NL
2008
Number of
cremations
Comments
0
1
38
Hg
emissions
(kg Hg)
49,850
1
Use of BAT reduces Hg
emissions by 98 to 99.5 %
30
238 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
3.3
29,150
40
Total Hg
emitted
(kg Hg)
Information sources
0
Min. Env.
(questionnaire reply)
No information on the
existence of mercury
removal techniques; Hg
emissions estimated by
BIO assuming 3.3 kg Hg
per crematoria per year
International
cremation statistics
3.3
Assumption: 100%
emission of mercury in
amalgam fillings
41
OSPAR report 2011
Annex L - Mercury emissions from crematoria
Crematoria applying mercury removal techniques
Country
Year
2010
PL
2011
PT
2010
412
Number of
crematoria
48
3
Number of
cremations
412
57,439
7,621
Hg
emissions
(kg Hg)
Comments
1.2
Nb of crematoria and
cremations from LVC
(Landelijke Vereniging van
Crematoria)
Hg emissions estimated based
on data reported to OSPAR for
2009 (0.02 g Hg/cremation)
8
Between 2008 and 2011, 3 new
crematoria have been built: it
is assumed that they are
equipped with Hg abatement
devices.
Nb of cremations estimated
by BIO based on data for 2008
(2,540 cremations per
crematoria per year)
Hg emissions estimated by
BIO assuming 1 g Hg per
cremation (i.e. 50% capture of
total average Hg body burden)
Crematoria not applying mercury removal techniques
Number of
crematoria
23
10
14
Number of
cremations
23,454
25,402
8,752
Hg
emissions
(kg Hg)
Comments
32
Nb of crematoria and
cremations from LVC
(Landelijke Vereniging
van Crematoria)
Hg emissions estimated
based on data reported
to OSPAR for 2009 (1.37
g Hg/cremation)
51
Nb of cremations only
available for 2008: 25,402
cremations for 8
crematoria.
Hg emissions estimated
by BIO assuming 2 g
Hg/cremation
17.5
0.015 to 0.04 mg
3
Hg/Nm ; Hg emissions
estimated by BIO
assuming 2 g
Hg/cremation
Total Hg
emitted
(kg Hg)
33
59
17.5
Information sources
The Facultatieve
Group (cremation
company)
(questionnaire reply)
Nb of crematoria in
2008 and 2011 and
nb of cremations in
2008 taken from a
press article:
http://www.newswe
ek.pl/wydania/1316/k
ogo-uwieraurna,83710,1,1
Portuguese
association of
funerals
professionals
(questionnaire reply)
Figures including 3,428 cremations from Belgium and Germany (for crematoria applying or not applying Hg removal techniques)
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 239
Annex L - Mercury emissions from crematoria
Crematoria applying mercury removal techniques
Country
RO
SE
SK
SI
UK
Year
Number of
crematoria
Number of
cremations
Hg
emissions
(kg Hg)
Comments
Crematoria not applying mercury removal techniques
Number of
crematoria
2009
Number of
cremations
Hg
emissions
(kg Hg)
Comments
No information on the
existence of mercury
removal techniques; Hg
emissions estimated by
BIO assuming 2 g
Hg/cremation
1
967
1.9
Total Hg
emitted
(kg Hg)
Information sources
International
cremation statistics
1.9
2004
33
49,500
7.5
36
16,500
50
58
National report to
OSPAR, 2004
2009
41
46,500
7
27
19,500
60
67
OSPAR report 2011
2010
41
≈49,000
24
≈20,777
114
KEMI (questionnaire
reply)
Average emission factor: 1.63
g Hg/cremation
2009
3
2011
2007
2
All
crematoria:
381,067
732
240 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
All
crematoria:
381,067
Average emission factor:
1.63 g Hg/cremation
9.9
No information on the
existence of Hg removal
techniques; Hg emissions
estimated by BIO
assuming 3.3 kg Hg per
crematoria per year
6.6
No information on the
existence of Hg removal
techniques; Hg emissions
estimated by BIO
assuming 3.3 kg Hg per
crematoria per year
International
cremation statistics
9.9
Min. Env.
(questionnaire reply)
6.6
732
National report to
OSPAR, 2009
Annex L - Mercury emissions from crematoria
Crematoria applying mercury removal techniques
Country
Year
2009
2010
Number of
crematoria
Number of
cremations
Hg
emissions
(kg Hg)
56
All
crematoria:
413,431
unknown
81
26,006
3.75
Comments
Information received from
members of the CAMEO
trading scheme. Emission
factor applied to abated
cremations is based on the UK
NAEI (National Atmospheric
Emission Inventory) and
assumes 94% Hg removal
efficiency.
Crematoria not applying mercury removal techniques
Number of
crematoria
Number of
cremations
Hg
emissions
(kg Hg)
194
All
crematoria:
413,431
unknown
182
387,774
933
Comments
Total Hg
emitted
(kg Hg)
Emission factor used:
1.92 g Hg per cremation.
860
Emission factor applied
to unabated cremations
is based on the UK NAEI
derived emission factor
for 2009 using dental
amalgam statistics from
the UK Department of
Health.
Information sources
OSPAR report 2011
Min. Env. / CAMEO
(questionnaire reply)
937
Additional notes:
3
BE - Brussels-Capital Region: The environment permit mentions the following emission limit values: before 01/05/2008: 0.2 mg Hg/Nm ; from 01/05/2008: 0.1 mg
3
Hg/Nm
DE - The percentage of crematoria fitted with a mercury abatement technique (BAT) increased from 83.3% to 89.5% between 2004 and 2009. Within this period, the
number of crematoria and cremations in Germany increased as well and therefore the total amount of mercury emitted increased from 36 kg to approximately 39 kg.
DK - An agreement was reached in 2007 between The Danish EPA and the Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs that existing crematories establish air abatement to reduce
mercury emissions from 2011.
ES - Cremation is an increasing practice in the Spanish society, especially when considering increasing difficulties and costs of burials. Measures of mercury emissions
from crematories are not included under the E-PRTR register and so, it is difficult to get information on this activity. Currently, there is some information that will be
published in the SETAC-2010 regarding estimations of mercury releases from cremations in the Basque Country.
3
FR - The Ministerial Order of 28 January 2010 introduced an emission limit value for mercury at 0.2 mg/Nm . This value is immediately applicable to new installations. A
period of 8 years (until 2018) is given to existing installations to become compliant.
IE - There is currently no specific national legislation regarding air emissions from crematoria. One of the crematoria is in the process of commissioning mercury
abatement on their cremator (Sept 2011); this cremator accounts for one third of the national cremation figures.
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 241
Annex L - Mercury emissions from crematoria
LU- The operation of the crematorium is authorised by « Arrêté n°1/97/0407 » of 1st July 1999 issued by the Environment Ministry, in accordance with modified law of 9
May 1990 concerning hazardous facilities. Mercury emissions in the form of gases or particles are restricted to 0.1 mg/Nm3.
NL - In 2008, 59 % of the deceased were cremated. According to the national association of crematoria, by the end of 2009, 63 % of all cremations will be taking place in
crematoria applying mercury removal (activated carbon filter).
SE – The Swedish Federation of Cemeteries and Crematoria (SKKF) considers that to put a selenium capsule in the oven, without subsequent filters, is a removal
technique. This view is not shared by the Swedish EPA which makes information from SKKF difficult to use straight off. The official Swedish air emission statistics reports
mercury emissions from crematoria at 114 kg 2010. This is a calculation using an emission factor of 1.63 g Hg/cremation. According to SKKF the emission of mercury
from crematoria was 29.4 kg in 2010. The truth is possibly somewhere in between but for now the officially reported figure of 114 kg should be used.
UK - In England and Wales, all new crematoria are required to fit mercury control equipment but those conducting fewer than 750 cremations a year have till 2012 to do
this In 2005, DEFRA and the Welsh Assembly Government established a 'burden sharing' system to reduce mercury emissions from existing crematoria. It specifies that
50% of cremations (using 2003 baseline figures) should be subject to mercury abatement by end-2012. In 2010, CAMEO (the Crematoria Abatement of Emissions
Organisation) stated that it had 151 members, of which 81 said they were abating, 68 said they were not and 2 were still undecided. In 2011, the number of members
increased to 168 and 75 have indicated that they will be abating by the deadline of the 1st January 2013 whilst 83 have stated that they will be burden sharing and 10 are
still undecided. There are a further 95 crematoria in the UK who are not members of CAMEO so their intentions are not known.
According to DEFRA, Northern Ireland has 1 crematorium which carried out 2,732 cremations in 2010; although there are no data on Hg levels, a good level of compliance
is expected with very occasional exceedences usually due to unapproved items left in coffins whilst with the undertaker.
Notes on the data from the OSPAR 2011 overview report:
Several methods are reported for calculating loads emitted from crematoria. The most common is to use an estimate for the amount of mercury in the fillings of each
corpse and multiply this by the number of corpses incinerated. This ranges between 1 and 5 g Hg per corpse. Some countries also apply an abatement factor to account
for the amount of mercury which is removed during cremation. Several countries which have mercury measurement devices for flue gases calculate the mercury
emissions directly from these measurements based on the time the crematoria is operating.
242 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Annex M - Statistics on dental health
Annex M: Statistics on dental health
The European Statistics of Income and Living Condition (EU-SILC) survey413 provides data on
people with unmet needs for dental examination by sex, age, reason and income quintile. The
table below shows the percentage of population with unmet dental needs, whose income falls
under the first quintile of equivalised income, and that state as a main reason the high cost of
dental care.
Table 44: Share of EU population with unmet needs for dental examination by sex, age,
reason and income quintile (%) – Source: Eurostat
GEO/TIME
2004
European Union (EU6-1972, EU9-1980, EU10-1985,
EU12-1994, EU15-2004, EU25-2006, EU27)
Belgium
5.4
2005
2006
Denmark
6.5
Germany (including former GDR from 1991)
2008
2009
9.2
7.9
8.2
7.4
7.6
5.0
3.6
4.2
5.1
3.9
46.2
30.3
25.2
Bulgaria
Czech Republic
2007
1.3
1.4
0.9
2.4
1.8
6.7
6.2
7.7
2.7
6.5
14.2
10.5
9.0
5.5
5.8
Estonia
20.0
23.4
22.6
23.1
16.9
9.3
Ireland
2.2
1.9
2.7
3.2
2.5
1.7
Greece
6.9
9.6
8.3
10.1
10.0
11.2
Spain
10.9
7.0
5.5
4.7
6.0
6.5
France
7.3
6.6
6.3
7.5
7.8
8.9
12.2
11.9
11.7
11.3
13.8
11.8
Cyprus
11.2
11.8
13.1
9.5
7.7
Latvia
35.9
31.1
29.5
25.3
24.4
Lithuania
13.5
16.8
10.5
7.4
5.0
1.5
2.3
2.2
1.4
1.5
Italy
Luxembourg
413
2.2
Available at http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_SDDS/en/hlth_care_silc_esms.htm
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 243
Annex M - Statistics on dental health
GEO/TIME
2004
Hungary
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
11.9
7.5
7.6
6.6
6.4
Malta
1.7
3.7
1.8
1.6
3.1
Netherlands
3.2
2.0
1.6
1.1
2.0
2.1
1.5
2.4
3.7
2.8
15.6
12.9
10.9
6.5
6.5
16.0
15.8
6.4
12.5
20.3
20.2
16.4
17.8
Austria
2.7
Poland
Portugal
13.8
Romania
Slovenia
0.5
0.7
0.3
0.3
0.9
Slovakia
7.5
6.4
5.1
1.9
2.7
Finland
4.9
6.5
3.5
2.2
3.0
2.0
Sweden
9.9
11.9
15.1
9.0
11.7
11.0
1.0
1.3
0.9
0.6
0.8
United Kingdom
Table 45 shows several health care indicators that have been extracted from Eurostat.
Table 45: Health care indicators by group of Member States414
Share of
population
with unmet
needs for
dental
examination
because they
cannot afford
it (% in 2009 )
Practicing
dentists
per capita
Health care
expenditure in
offices of
dentists (EUR
per capita in
2009*)
Health care
expenditure in
offices of
dentists (%
per GDP in
2009*)
Public funding
in (% of the
total health
care
expenditure in
2009*)
Share of
population
with unmet
needs for
dental
examination
(% in 2009)
Group 1
counties
74.9%
151
0,49%
37%
9.7%
3.9%
Group 2
countries
69.4%
101
0,40%
27%
8.9%
5.3%
Group 3
countries
60.8%
64
0,29%
29%
6.1%
3.1%
Group of
Member
States
*AT, BG, CY, LV, LU and PT values refer to 2008
414
Source: Eurostat statistics on public health. Data on the unmet needs for dental examination derive from the
European Statistics of Income and Living Condition (EU-SILC) survey
244 | Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries
Annex M - Statistics on dental health
The following observations can be made:
Healthcare expenditure in dental offices
There is a strong correlation between health care expenditure in dental offices and use of
dental amalgam415, both in terms of Euros spent per capita and as a percentage of the
GDP. This correlation might be explained, at least partially, by the higher cost of Hg-free
restorations and also by the fact that higher expenses normally entail a higher quality of
service with regard to informing the patients on benefits (or drawbacks) of each restorative
material. A correlation also exists on the percentage of public funding (as a share of the
total health care expenditure) and the dental amalgam demand. It is not known which
share of this public expenditure includes national health reimbursement schemes, but it
can be assumed that the higher percentage in Group 1 occurs because of the higher cost of
Hg-free dental restorations.
Unmet needs for dental examination
The results of the European Statistics of Income and Living Condition (EU-SILC) survey
indicate that unmet needs of dental examination appear mostly in countries with low
dental amalgam demand. In addition, there does not seem to be a correlation between the
type of dental filling material and the affordability of dental treatment. This aspect seems
to correlate mainly with the wealth of the Member States. Specifically, the percentage of
the population that cannot afford dental examination in EU15 is estimated at 3% whereas
in the EU 12 this percentage rises at 5%.
415
According to Eurostat, health expenditure includes: the medical care households receive (ranging from hospitals
and physicians to ambulance services and pharmaceutical products) and their health expenses, including cost-sharing
and the medicines they buy on their own initiative; government-supplied health services (e.g. schools, vaccination
campaigns), investment in clinics, laboratories, etc.; administration costs; research and development; industrial
medicine, outlays of voluntary organisations, charities and non-governmental health plans.
Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries | 245
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