The EU will gradually ban mercury, particularly used in dental amalgam

The European Parliament and member states will still have to give their formal green light before the legislation comes into force.



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Bailiffs in the hemicycle of the European Parliament, February 7, 2024 in Strasbourg.  (FREDERICK FLORIN / AFP)

EU member states and European parliamentarians concluded an agreement on Thursday February 8 to gradually eliminate the use of mercury, a component harmful to health, by notably banning dental amalgams (or “fillings”). and the manufacture of certain lamps.

The text adopted by the negotiators plans to eliminate a large part of “residual uses” of this metal, with a view to gradually arriving at “a Europe without mercury”, according to a press release from the European Council. After having already contributed “to significantly reduce the use and exposure to this highly toxic chemical component”the EU now intends “target remaining uses”underlined Belgian Minister Alain Maron, who participated in the talks on behalf of the States.

Fillings banned from 2025

A European regulation strictly regulated the life cycle of mercury, from mining to waste disposal. The new text goes further and calls for a total ban in the EU from January 2025 on dental amalgams, unless they are deemed strictly necessary by the dentist due to specific medical needs. Fillings are used to seal the cavity caused by decay.

An eighteen-month exemption is provided for “States in which low-income people would be disproportionately affected” by too sudden a change, specifies the press release. The EU will also have to stop exporting dental amalgam from January 2025. Importing and manufacturing in the EU will be banned after June 2026.

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