Dental fillings containing mercury are due to be largely banned in the European Union from 2025. The aim is to protect health and the environment from the harmful effects of mercury. Exceptions should be made if the dentist deems such a filling medically necessary. Negotiators from Parliament and EU countries agreed on the new requirements on Thursday. The two institutions still have to approve the project. But this is mostly a formality.
Mercury is highly toxic. Inhaling mercury vapor can cause permanent damage to the brain, lungs, kidneys, and immune system. In the past, the heavy metal was used, for example, in batteries, thermometers and fluorescent tubes. It is firmly bonded to amalgam dental fillings, which are relatively inexpensive and very durable. However, there are concerns that the “seals” release mercury into the body. However, there is no evidence that properly treated amalgam fillings pose a health risk. According to the German Cancer Research Center (dkfz), there is also no evidence that fillers cause cancer. However, amalgam is not biodegradable and therefore represents a burden on nature.
Despite mercury-free alternatives, about 40 tons of mercury are still used in dental amalgam each year in the European Union. Current regulations prohibit such fillings only for children under 15 and pregnant and breastfeeding women. The ban is now set to extend to all EU residents. According to the European Parliament's chief negotiator, Marlene Mortler (CSU), it was also agreed that lamps containing mercury may only be exported to countries outside the EU until June 30, 2026. (dpa/nl)