'Dental clinics supply mercury to mining firms'

by Sheila Crisostomo. The Philippine Star

Posted at Mar 09 2014 11:32 AM | Updated as of Mar 09 2014 07:32 PM

MANILA - Two groups seeking the banning of dental amalgam in the country have revealed that some dental clinics serve as suppliers of mercury to mining companies.

Lilian Ebuen, executive director of the International Association of Oral Medicine and Toxicology, said there are dentists who supply mercury to mining firms since the toxic substance is not banned if used for dental purposes.

“There is a big demand for mercury in the mining industry. But because of its toxic effects, only dentists are allowed to use it as dental amalgam or the silver pasta (filling),” she said.

Ebuen noted that dentists have become the source of mercury for small-scale mining companies, sold by some dentists to miners for P18,000 to P30,000 per kilo.

Ebuen’s statement was echoed by Marie Marciano, chief operations officer of the Ban Toxics group, who said the practice is more rampant in far-off provinces.

Marciano urged the government to ban mercury even for dental purposes.

For its part, the Philippine Dental Association (PDA) said it would verify information that some dentists are selling mercury to miners.

“We dentists can buy it freely from dental supply (stores). You can buy it in any amount you want but I’m not aware that this is being sold to miners.