The fate of dentistry’s most controversial procedure: the use of mercury-based dental fillings, known as amalgam, is set to be decided on in Europe.
It is condemned as a risk for “secondary poisoning” by a European Commission scientific advisory body because it gets into fish that people eat. Furthermore, the Commission’s health advisory committee has recommended a ban on its use in fillings in children and pregnant women.
Representatives from the three European institutions, namely the Commission, the Parliament and the Council, will meet on 6 December to discuss the text of the EU regulation on mercury, including its use in dentistry. Europe is the largest amalgam user in the world, and consumer, health and environmental NGOs, as well as many dentists, are calling for a ban.
Why is the UK government now backtracking on this promise?
Rebecca Dutton of the UK patient support group Mercury Madness said:
“Britain in 2012, through a letter from the Chief Dental Officer to the British Dental Association, announced that as of 2016, amalgam use would be discouraged and would be used only if it met one of four exceptions. Why is the UK government now backtracking on this promise? In a public consultation organised by the European Commission, 88% of participating Europeans recommended phasing out amalgam and 12% called for its use to be phased down. Since the Commission sought the vote of the people, why doesn’t it follow their advice?”
Dentists once heavily used amalgam, but are abandoning it in droves with several Member States either disallowing its use (i.e. Sweden) or reducing it to less than 5% of all dental fillings (for example, Finland, Denmark and the Netherlands).
British dentist Dr Graeme Munro-Hall said:
“British dentists increasingly realise that the end is near for amalgam. Alternatives are available, affordable, and effective. It is time for the UK to say good-bye to amalgam, a material clearly inferior to composite or ionomers.”
The environmental impact of dental amalgam is significant, impacting on air, water and land, and being taken up in the fish eaten by Europeans.
Elena Lymberidi-Settimo of the European Environment Bureau said:
“An ambitious regulation is needed to reduce the use of mercury in the EU and phase it out of dentistry. Members of the European Parliament have voted in favour of ending amalgam by 2022 (with special allowances for medical reasons) with a ban sooner for pregnant or breastfeeding women and children. We agree – over 66% of dental fillings in the EU are now made without mercury and it is now time that this becomes the norm.”
The European Commission has also turned its back on the opinion of the European public.
Philippe Vandendaele of Health Care Without Harm said:
“Mercury is globally one of the 10 chemicals of major public health concern, yet the Commission proposes we maintain the status quo. Empirical evidence shows that due to technological changes and dentist training, the cost of mercury-free dentistry is declining, so the price differential continues to shrink.”
Indeed, the claim that amalgam is slightly cheaper than alternatives is illusory.
Johanna Hausmann of Women in Europe for a Common Future, added:
“When amalgam’s disastrous impact on the environment is factored in, amalgam’s costs are as much as €82 more per filling than composite. Continuing the use of amalgam does not even make economic sense.”
A growing consensus is that Europe must, at the very least, ban amalgam use for children and pregnant women.
Genon Jensen, Health & Environmental Alliance (HEAL) said:
“We must first protect those most vulnerable to mercury’s neurotoxicity – the developing brains of children, babies, and foetuses. Several nations, such as Germany, the UK and Poland, have already announced that they don’t use or that dentists should not use amalgam for children or pregnant women.”
Members of the European Parliament Michèle Rivasi (France), Stefan Eck (Germany) and Piernicola Piedicini (Italy) are circulating petitions in four languages to ban amalgam in Europe. Signatories have already exceeded 17,000 names.
The World’s Top Cities for Owning a Green Home
Demand for green homes has risen sharply in recent years. Dodge Data & Analytics’ SmartMarket Report stated that over half of homebuilders project that 60% or more of the homes they build will be green within the next three years.
While the outlook for green home is surging throughout the world, growth is far from uniform. The outlook in some cities remains much stronger than others. Here are some of the best cities in the world for building or buying a green home.
Vancouver has a population of nearly 650,000 people. It has a surprisingly low levels of pollution for a city its size. According to research from Siemens, air quality is significantly better than most other communities of the same size. The city government has expressed a desire to improve air quality and reduce CO2 emissions even further. They expect to cut air pollution by 30% by 2020. Many people in the community have green homes and the government is likely to offer new incentives for green homes in the future.
Philadelphia is rated as the best city in the United States to own a green home. Within a 12-month period, over one in three homes that were sold were environmentally friendly. Demand for green homes in Philadelphia is higher than other homes. The average green home costs 45% more than homes that lack green features.
Australia has begun making substantial progress on the green energy front in recent years. According to one company that offers house and land for sale near Townsville, a growing number of houses are built around sustainability.
Brazil is not known for its commitment to green energy. The city of Curitiba is an exception. Despite being surrounded by communities that lack its vision of a green renaissance, the Siemens report shows that the city is outperforming the global green living index.
Some indexes rank the city even higher. Grist ranks it as the third greenest city on earth.
“As a whole, the green urban areas in Curitiba are among the largest in the world and every inhabitant of the city has approximately 52 m² of nature to romp about in. Brazil’s green capital makes a tremendous effort to preserve the city’s natural environment and is regarded by many as one of the world’s best examples of green urban planning.”
When most people picture Boston, they usually envision a city filled with smog. This stereotype arises among people that have visited the city off and on over the last 50 years. However, it has made tremendous progress over the past decade and has started to become one of the greenest cities in the United States.
The changes are being driven in Fenway. This is one of the least developed areas of the city, so most new construction is focused on creating green building structures. Older parts of the city have existing housing, which is often decades old. After these buildings need to be replaced, the city will try to focus on green initiatives. This will help the city receive even more attention as a green city.
Denmark as a whole is an incredibly green country. Few people own cars and homes are minimalistic, which reduces CO2 emissions. Copenhagen leads the charge in the country’s commitment to green living, so it is rated as the cleanest city in all of Europe.
Copenhagen hasn’t needed to make nearly as much effort to earn this title as most other cities, largely due to the culture that rejects decadence and embraces sustainability. Citizens have coordinated with the government to boost green living, but most of these conditions are driven by free market ideals. They haven’t needed to rely nearly as extensively on central planning as San Francisco and other Western cities.
Cultural Nodes Are Driving the Green Housing Market
Some of the largest cities in the world are embracing a cosmopolitan view that encourages green living. This is propelling demand for green housing in their areas and the rest of the world. People that want to buy a green home should consider investing in one of these areas.
China Unexpectedly Emerging as Global Leader in Green Technology
In the late 20th century, China underwent an amazing industrial revolution. However, in the process, it produced far more pollution, which raised concerns about global warming. The United Nations Environmental Council placed a lot of pressure on China to reduce its carbon footprint. It is clearly making headway now and may actually be a shining example for the rest of the world to follow.
China is Taking Environmental Concerns More Seriously than Ever Before
In recent years, China has made tremendous progress. In 2014, the World Bank praised the Chinese government for integrating forest development, biodiversity conservation and carbon reduction strategies. According to the World Bank analysis, china increased its forest cover by nearly 50% between the late 1980s and 2005. While analysts stated that those levels were still significantly below the global average, they stated that China is clearly headed in the right direction.
“China has long been a forest-poor country. Though its forest cover increased from 13 percent in the 1980s to 18.2 percent by 2005 thanks to an extensive plantations program, the hectare per capita of 0.13 remained significantly below the world average of 0.6. With rapid economic growth, China’s forests came under intense pressure due to the growing demand for timber and pulpwood. The logging ban introduced by the government in 1998 further aggravated the wood shortage. This challenge was more acute in Guangxi, where combined with weak forest resources protection resulted in a threat to its unique biodiversity including one of the largest and most important representatives of karst ecosystem in the world.”
The government’s policies to improve forest area and reduce carbon emissions are highly encouraging, but their new focus on green energy is even more impressive. In May, Premier Li Keqiang announced that the country is tapering steel production and relying less on coal-powered electricity. They have made substantial investments in wind and energy power, which are beginning to make a difference all over the world. They are also investing more heavily in solar. In fact, they developed the world’s largest floating solar plant.
Many environmental experts feel that the country has gone from being one of the worst contributors to climate change to a shining role model in the quest to save the environment.
What drove China to make these changes? The biggest incentive was the need to save it so when people from pollution. National Geographic reports that approximately 1.1 million people die from air pollution in China every year. The government needed to institute massive changes to reverse this epidemic.
Additional progress it is still needed
Nations around the world should applaud China for making such revolutionary changes to save its own citizens in the rest of the world. However, the country still needs to implement more changes to set itself on the right track.
The government has passed a number of regulations to improve air quality. However, many businesses have been reluctant to follow them.
The Ministry of Environmental Protection surveyed nearly 20,000 companies across northern China. They found that 70% of those companies or nearly 14,000 failed to meet environmental standards.
Some of the violations were fairly benign and easy to rectify. Others were far more severe. According to the report, which was published on a state new site, nearly 5,000 companies were operating in on off the rise locations or fail to secure the right environmental permits. The ministry of environmental protection states that stricter enforcement is necessary.
Despite the fact there are still areas for improvement, China is still headed in the right direction. It simply needs to examine some of the ongoing challenges and find new ways to save money.
China May Lead the World in the Fight Against Climate Change
Li Keqiang and other Chinese officials are taking environmental concerns far more seriously than their predecessors. The country is expected to roll out new policies in the future and may be one of the global leaders in the fight against climate change.
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