Legislature(1997 - 1998)
04/03/1997 01:35 PM L&C
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 90 DENTISTS: LICENSING & EXTEND EXAMINING BD CHAIRMAN LEMAN announced SB 90 to be up for consideration and said in a previous meeting there was discussion about reducing the number of dentists from six to five and the grounds for discipline. The committee adopted an amendment deleting sections 2 and 5, leaving the Board at six dentists. Another amendment that was offered was taken out of the physician statutes regarding unconventional experimental practices. The core of the issue was mercury amalgam fillings and other restorative materials. SENATOR KELLY moved to bring amendment, Lauterback 4/3/97 A.2 version, before the committee for discussion. CHAIRMAN LEMAN explained this was similar to language adopted in at least one other state. DR. BURT MILLER said that life is a learning process and this is reflected in the issue of using mercury/amalgam as a dental filling material. It consists of approximately 50% mercury which is more toxic than lead, cadmium, or arsenic. The EPA states that the maximum safety limit for mercury vapors is 10 micrograms per day and mercury forms a vapor at 10 degrees fahrenheit. They have been documented between one and 29 micrograms per day. He read a long list of doctors who disagreed with the American Dental Association's conclusion on the safety of mercury amalgam fillings. TAPE 97-15, SIDE B Number 580 DR. MILLER said that the latest news and magazine polls indicate that 50% of the American public are skewing toward alternative medicine - outside of the dental and medical establishment. An informed group of people in Colorado and their state Attorney General demonstrated to the Colorado Board of Dental Examiners that the American Dental Association (ADA) was not the expert counsel on amalgam that the board assumed it to be. The American Dental Association is a trade association that has never conducted any primary research into the safety of mercury amalgam and the ADA had either withheld or distorted vital information. He concluded saying that he supported SB 90, especially sections 6 and 7. Number 573 MR. CHARLIE BROWN, former Attorney General of West Virginia, said there are many kinds of dentistry; some want to use just gold, some want to use amalgam, and some want to use composite fillings. He said this bill doesn't take sides on the mercury debate. It allows the consumers, competition, and dentists to make that decision. It doesn't affect their battle against fraud which can happen with any kind of dentist. He urged them to take this out of the social debate and keep it in the scientific debate letting consumers decide what they want to do with their lives. MS. MARTHA REINBOLD, Director, Alaska Dental Society, said that she is an administrator and represents what the profession of dentistry feels to the ADA. She said they are concerned with proposed amendment, section 5(b), because of what the ADA Code of Ethics says, "The removal of amalgam restoration from the non-allergic patient for the alleged purpose of removing toxic substances from the body when such treatment is performed solely at the recommendation or suggestion of the dentist is improper and unethical. A dentist who represents a dental treatment recommended or performed by the dentist has the capacity to cure or alleviate diseases, infections, or other conditions, when such representations are not based upon accepted scientific knowledge or research, is acting unethically." MS. REINBOLD said the amendment was confusing as written. She suggested clarifying the use of "remove" or "place," "recommended the removal" or "recommended placement." She asked that wording be used that would comply with the Code of Ethics. MR. SCOTT CROWTHER, Palmer civil engineer, said he is an amalgam victim and he works with a consumer's dental choice project to promote a level playing field between mercury free dentists and other dentists in our State. He noted that he had a lot of science with him on the issue and there are two disturbing things about the use of mercury amalgam for fillings. One is that the mercury that leaks out of amalgam crosses into the placenta and into the tissue of a developing fetus which results in birth defects. He said that Germany has commenced its phase-out of using amalgam for fillings based on a conclusive study on this. MR. CROWTHER said that an on-going study at the University of Kentucky has documented the fact that mercury leaves the amalgam and goes into brain tissue and once it does this, it damages the tubuli, our memory cells - damage that is identical to what you find in Alzheimer's disease. A correlation has been found between the number of amalgams and length of mercury exposure to the amount of mercury in the brains of 100 autopsied Alzheimer's victims. Regarding the code of ethics and advocating the removal of amalgam, he said, SB 90 would allow acknowledgement that these things are happening and allow the issue to go back into the professional arena. SENATOR MACKIE moved to adopt amendment #3 to SB 90. There were no objections and it was so ordered. SENATOR MACKIE moved to pass the CSSB 90(L&C) from committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying $0 fiscal note. There were no objections and it was so ordered.