Legislature(1997 - 1998)

04/03/1997 01:35 PM L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= 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                
 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.                               

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