Juliet Pratt Speaker Auckland  

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Poison fillings making us sick

16.05.2009 by Kristin Edge, The Northern Advocate

Studies of hundreds of patients show mercury amalgam fillings in people's teeth could be responsible for many unexplained illnesses, a Northland doctor says.

Damian Wojcik, a general practitioner at the Northland Environmental Health Clinic in Kamo, has been studying possible mercury poisonings after he started having health problems in 1992, including memory loss and fatigue.

He spoke this week in support of a 1400-signature petition calling on the Government to ban mercury amalgam dental fillings for children and pregnant women and phase them out entirely by the end of 2013.

He told the Parliament's health select committee that after his own ill health he had started to suspect some of his patients could be suffering from mercury poisoning.

His suspicions had been backed up by research and literature published by respected organisations, such as the World Health Organisation and Health Canada. He had started testing his Northland patients specifically for mercury and had collected information on up to 700

He had published research in 2006 on data collected from 456 patients who had been clinically tested for mercury poisoning. Patients had shown signs of memory loss, fatigue, depression and having poor immune systems.

Mostly the source of mercury had been identified as coming from fillings, he said.

"I'm hoping the material I have presented to the committee will at least make them consider the issue and they won't just rubber-stamp the status quo," Mr Wojcik said.

Mercury amalgam had always been considered inert and stable but when it was left in distilled water it gave off mercury, he said. Radioactive tracing had shown the mercury turned up in the thyroid gland four minutes after ingesting and it was in the rest of the body's organs within 30 days.

Drinking a hot cup of tea could raise base-line mercury levels up to 400-fold and 80 per cent of that was breathed in, he said.

But dentists and Health Ministry officials are standing by the use of mercury amalgam.

Director-general of Health Stephen McKernan said last week the ministry was confident scientific evidence continued to support the use of amalgam as a safe, effective and affordable means to treat tooth decay.

David Crum of the Dental Association said amalgam's benefits outweighed the "very low level of risk" associated with it.

But another doctor, Paul Butler, told the committee people with health problems that could possibly be attributed to mercury would see a GP rather than a dentist.

Dentists were not aware of the problem and GPs were not looking for any problems with mercury amalgam, he said.

Juliet Pratt, of Auckland, also spoke against the use of mercury amalgam fillings.

She had 40 amalgam fillings, as well as three gold fillings and a metal plate. They had started reacting and "the current was pretty high", she said.

She had suffered chronic fatigue syndrome and it wasn't until she had her mercury amalgam fillings removed that she got her health back.

It was she who presented the petition to the Government calling on it to immediately prohibit the use of mercury amalgam dental fillings for children and pregnant women and phase it out entirely by the end of 2013.

Juliet Pratt Speaker Auckland

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