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Parliamentary questions
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26 August 2002
E-1927/2002(ASW)
Answer given by Mr Liikanen on behalf of the Commission
Question reference: E-1927/2002

On 20 June 2002 the Parliament's Petitions Committee closed a petition in the light of the results of a study on dental amalgam and other restorative materials ordered by the Commission and published in 1998. According to this study, all dental restorative materials may cause some adverse reactions, and most contain components that are toxic. However, according to the same study, the benefits of restoring teeth with dental amalgam that contains mercury significantly out-weigh the documented risks and the risk-benefit ratio corresponds to currently acknowledged and accepted state of the art.

Given concerns expressed, Commission and Member States representatives decided to proceed to a review of the study's conclusions in the light of new data available at a national level. In their meeting of 11 and 12 July 2002, they confirmed that the study's conclusions are still valid and accurate.

The Commission shares the view of the Honourable Member on the importance of a safe handling and disposal of mercury-containing waste. Indeed, amalgam waste from dental care is classified as hazardous waste and hence Member States have to ensure that it is disposed of in accordance with the provisions of the Framework Council Directive 75/442/EEC of 15 July 1975 on waste(1) and in particular of Council Directive 91/689/EEC of 12 December 1991 on hazardous waste(2). Waste management of dental amalgam is addressed by Parcom Recommendation 93/2, which states "equipment should be installed to separate water and amalgam to enable collection of amalgam as from 1 January 1997". Preliminary results of an ongoing study of the Commission on risks to health and the environment show that this recommendation has been largely implemented in the Member States. Nevertheless, there is no Community legislation that specifically requires sealing the mercury-waste from dental clinics prior to destruction.

(1)OJ L 194, 25.7.1975.
(2)OJ L 377, 31.12.1991.

OJ C 92 E, 17/04/2003
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