EPA Is Cracking Down on Dentists

Your dentist wants you to clean your teeth. The federal government wants your dentist to clean his office.

The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday released a proposal to cut down on the amount of mercury that winds up in the water supply as a result of a routine dental procedure.

The problem? Dentists use mercury and other heavy metals to fill cavities, but those metals can harm human health if ingested. And when dentists remove old filings or end up with more cavity-filling material than they need, mercury can go down the drain and end up in rivers and streams.

According to EPA, more than half of all mercury detected in public water treatment plants comes from discarded fillings.

So what is the agency going to do about it? EPA wants dental offices to adopt new systems that cut down on the amount of mercury and other heavy metals that wind up in the water.