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By Dr. James Howenstine, MD.
May 20, 2004

Standard dental care in the United States involves the placement of silver amalgams to repair caries. Fifty percent of the silver amalgam that is used consists of mercury which is gradually eroded from the surface of the amalgam into the air and saliva leading to serious health problems. Some dentists use ceramic material to fill caries. More than 250 varieties of ceramic amalgams are available. These ceramic amalgams have their own problems because the ceramic material may contain metals (cadmium, vanadium etc.), and plastic which also become absorbed into the body as the amalgams are worn down. The metals are toxic and the plastic degrades into estrogen which can produce symptoms of excessive estrogen in both men and women. Fifty two percent of a "silver" amalgam is actually mercury.

A recent article titled Mercury: The Unsuspected Killer[1] by John Moore provides valuable information about the extent of the mercury problem and the proper way to correct this problem. Mr. Moore became very weak and unable to concentrate in 1987. His short term memory was disappearing and he had unexplainable irritability and bouts of explosive anger. The classic symptom of mercury toxicity is unexplained irritability. Two different persons suggested that mercury toxicity might be the explanation for his symptoms. He started taking supplements to eliminate mercury and had his mercury amalgams removed. All his symptoms disappeared and he returned to good health. This experience caused him to embark on an ongoing study to learn more about mercury toxicity. Mercury causes cancer, undesirable chromosome changes, fetal malformations, miscarriages, allergies, nerve cell damage, damage to the environment and death.

Tests to discover how much mercury is in the human body are often normal in persons who have excess mercury. This occurs because mercury is immediately bound to cells and thus is often unable to be detected by tests of blood, urine, or hair.

Sometimes in removing the amalgams there is not enough tooth surface remaining to permit placement of a new amalgam. These teeth need to be removed. One of Mr. Moore's molars had a large gold crown. After this crown was removed a large piece of mercury was visible. This mercury had eroded into the remaining tooth and extended down into the space where the nerve was located. This tooth had to be removed as should all teeth where root canals had been previously performed. When teeth are removed, at times, cosmetic problems may be apparent. These can usually be corrected, but in all cases the removal of the dangerous mercury needs to take precedent.

Mercury is steadily released from amalgams 24 hours a day. This release is accentuated by chewing and eating hot foods. After 5 years have elapsed about 50 % of the mercury is no longer in the amalgam. The released mercury has entered the body (80 %) and escaped from the body (20 %) in expired air. This expired air serves as a source for spouses, friends, and relatives to become contaminated with mercury. The person who has had his amalgams removed can thus be refilled with mercury from the spouse who still has a mouth full of mercury containing amalgams.

How Can Amalgams Be Safely Removed?

When the patient is not protected from re-breathing mercury vapor as amalgams are removed, the patient may become worse from the inhalation of more mercury that they can tolerate. Individuals have become quadriplegic and comatose because they were inadequately protected from re-breathing mercury vapor during amalgam extraction. All persons have different tolerances for mercury so amalgam release might cause no effect in one person and yet be able to produce coma in another. Therefore caution in removal of amalgams is imperative.

Mr Moore strongly advises that a nitrous oxide nosepiece be taped to the nose so that non mercury vapor containing air, oxygen or a combination of both can be breathed during the extraction process. There is enough mercury in a large molar amalgam to cause the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) to close a 10 acre fishpond as the fish would be too toxic to eat.

Dental Office Mercury Exposure

The most dangerous place to be in a dental office is the room where the hygienist does the cleaning because the polishing of old amalgams instantly releases mercury into the air. When you have teeth cleaned request that the amalgams be left alone. Rubbing an amalgam with an eraser or scraping with a pocket knife releases a cloud of mercury vapor into the air. Chewing tobacco, drinking hot coffee, or eating hot foods increases the release of mercury. Every 10 degree rise in temperature doubles the release of mercury. Dental vaporization is particularly dangerous because of the closeness of the mercury vapor to the brain[2] and the capability of mercury to easily penetrate the blood-brain barrier.

Are There Any Ill Effects In Dentists And Dental Personnel From Exposure To Mercury?

In 1995 behavioral testing disclosed significant impairment of concentration, emotional lability, somatosensory irritation, and mood (depression) in dentists working with mercury when compared to non amalgam exposed dentists. The urinary concentration of mercury was seven times greater in amalgam working dentists than the level found in non amalgam dentists.

Long term exposure to amalgam can cause shakiness of hands and impaired manual dexterity.

Women who worked preparing 30 or more amalgams weekly were 50 per cent less likely to conceive than unexposed women.

Increased Mercury Toxicity From Amalgams Produced After 1974

Low copper amalgams were produced prior to 1974. These contained 52 % mercury, 30 % silver, 4 % copper, 14 % tin and zinc. This formulation of mercury required 30 to 40 years to build up enough mercury in the system to cause a major health problem. When silver became expensive in the years after 1974 copper was increased and the silver content of amalgams was decreased. This new amalgam formulation caused a 50 times faster release of mercury than previously occurred. This meant that serious health problems could now appear in 3 to 5 years instead of 30 to 40 years.

Symptoms Of Mercury Toxicity

Memory loss, depression, emotional instability, allergies and chemical sensitivities are common symptoms of mercury poisoning. By 1980 nearly all dentists were using the low silver high copper amalgams. The incidence of chronic fatigue syndrome began an explosive rise which may relate to increased mercury exposure from the newer amalgams. When mercury enters the blood stream it occupies the sites on red blood cells where oxygen is normally carried. The affinity of carbon monoxide for these oxygen binding sites is 500X that of oxygen and the affinity of mercury is thousands of times greater than that of oxygen. This tells us that when mercury occupies the receptor sites for oxygen on the red blood cell the red blood cells will be unable to deliver adequate oxygen to the bodies tissues. This failure to deliver oxygen to the body's cells produces many diseases including cancer.

When researchers at the Univ. of Calgary Medical School studied sheep that had radioactive mercury amalgams placed during pregnancy they learned that mercury was able to easily cross the placenta and appear in the fetus as well as the whole body of the mother. This transfer of mercury to the fetus from the mother's amalgams can lead to children with lower I.Q.s, learning disability, and attention deficit disorders.

Mercury has a half life of 70 days in a normal adult which suggests that approximately 4 months is needed to accomplish removal of mercury from the day it is taken in. A physician in San Francisco noticed a mysterious illness in several of her young adult patients. They complained of fatigue, weakness, and impaired concentration. She discovered that all these persons were consuming large amounts of fish. When the fish intake ceased their symptoms disappeared.

What Are The Major Sources For Human Exposure To Mercury?

The greatest source for mercury is dental amalgams. The second source is ingestion of fish. The third most important source is vaccines all of which contain the mercury compound thiomerosal. Thiomerosal is produced by taking elemental mercury, which is less toxic, and converting it into methyl mercury which is 1000 times more dangerous. This methyl mercury is then changed into an even more toxic form, ethyl mercury, which is combined with aluminum in vaccines. This combination of exposure to both mercury and aluminum is thought to greatly magnify the risk of developing Alzheimer's Disease AD. New vaccines, which are alleged to be mercury free, still contain mercury according to the drug sheets. The reason why they still contain mercury may be that the pharmaceutical firms have been unable to find a substitute for thimerosal which is used to prevent infection in the vaccines. Currently the vaccine administration programs in the U.S. begin injections in infants before their ability to produce enough bile (age 6 months) to rid their bodies of some mercury has developed.

Who Decides What Vaccines Are Recommended For Children?

A committee at the Center for Disease Control makes these decisions. Unfortunately, this committee contains members of vaccine manufacturers and frequently holds secret meetings. If ever there was a situation where the fox was watching the chicken house this is it. To make matters even worse Congress has passed legislation which exempts vaccine manufacturers from lawsuits for vaccine injury which is quite common.

Mercury Exposure and Autism

Giving young children 35 shots routinely certainly exposes them to considerable mercury (thiomersol). Many observers are convinced that mercury plays a major role in causing autism. Rashid Buttar D.O. has reported that 7 patients with autism have been successfully treated with transdermal chelation which may be lowering the mercury levels in the body's cells permitting better brain function.

When tested, children with autism show little or no mercury in their hair whereas children without autism do show mercury in hair samples. Mercury is found in hair samples only in those children who are actively secreting mercury from their bodies. Of course, fetuses are receiving mercury from their mothers amalgam release during the pregnancy. Almost certainly some learning disability and low I.Q. problems are caused by intrauterine fetal mercury exposure. Children are at much greater risk for mercury poisoning than adults because their detoxifying mechanisms are less developed than those in adults.

Commercial Uses For Mercury

There are more than 12,000 commercial uses for mercury. The new long life low-energy fluorescent light bulbs is a mercury light bulb. Mercury is one of the coatings inside the bulb and over time this mercury is able to escape from the bulb through the glass. Mercury is so powerful it is able to dissolve all but three metals (iron, nickel, and platinum). Mercury is also the only metal that passes from a liquid form into a vapor, and it starts this vaporization at 50 degrees below zero.

Coal fired power plants that burn coal to generate electricity put 48 tons of mercury into the air annually. Hospitals burning toxic wastes add 20 tons of mercury to the atmosphere. Sewage treatment plants produce many tons of mercury because the sewage effluents evaporate. Crematoriums add tons of mercury to the air when they burn bodies. Dentistry wastes pollute the municipal water systems with mercury containing fluids which is the major source of mercury pollution.

All plastics are preserved in mercury. The plastics in cars are treated with mercury so the ultraviolet light does not cause them to crack. Prior to this use of mercury many dashboards used to crack. New cars off -gas so much mercury it is common for dealers to have the silver-grey deposits of mercury on the windows removed each day.

Mercury oxide batteries are 35 % mercury by weight and alkaline batteries are 1 % mercury by weight. Mercury has been used in paint because it effectively kills mildew. Florescent light bulbs and thermostats contain mercury. The flashing light bulbs in children's shoes contain mercury.

How Much Mercury Is In Fish?

All fish are polluted with mercury regardless of where they are caught. In general large fish contain more mercury than smaller fish. Predatory fish usually have more mercury than bottom feeders. Albacore tuna contains more mercury than conventional tuna. Your mother was right when she told you fish are brain food so it is hard to give up eating a valuable food like fish. Because of the slow excretion of mercury in healthy adults I think it may be wise to limit fish intake to one meal weekly.

An article from the Max-Planck Institute was printed in October 2003 in the Christian Science Monitor. Their studies revealed that 5000 metric tons of mercury enter the atmosphere each year. This mercury is originating from plastic manufacturing, incineration of wastes, burning coal etc. mentioned earlier. Mercury has been identified in the ice packs at both the North and South Poles in sizable amounts.

In 2002 the Environmental News Agency did an article reporting the results of the International Whaling Commission meeting in Japan. The liver and meat content from small whales was examined for mercury levels. The liver had 5000 times the Japanese daily allowable amount of mercury and the meat had 900 times the allowable amount.

Ongoing study of the lakes and rivers in Wisconsin has revealed some important information. Currently 321 lakes and river segments have excessively high levels of mercury in the fish studied from these bodies of water. No river or lake having too high levels of mercury in fish has ever returned to satisfactory levels. Pristine isolated lakes can be contaminated with mercury because of airborne contamination because coal burning, incinerators etc. are a major reason for the presence of mercury. In addition PCB levels and pesticides in lakes and rivers can create serious health problems. Lake bacteria are responsible for converting mercury into the more dangerous methyl mercury form.

Why Does Mercury Exposure Appear To Be A Factor In Neurologic Diseases?

Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's Disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's Disease), Alzheimer's Disease and Autism can all be related to mercury exposure. An experiment done at the Univ. Of Calgary School of Medicine was published in Neuro Report on March 26, 2001. This research examined exposure of metals to live snail brains. Snail brain tissue is indistinguishable from human brain tissue and contains the same proteins and tissues as human brain. Cadmium, lead, manganese and other metals caused no changes. When mercury was applied in the form of vapor the outer coat (myelin sheath) surrounding the nerve fiber was immediately stripped away from the nerve fiber. The myelin sheath is responsible for the protection and the nutrition supplied to the nerve fiber. Without this support tissue the exposed nerves can readily make improper connections and fail to work. The sites injured in this manner lead to the symptoms experienced by the patient.

Dr. Thomas Rau's Paracelsus Clinic In Switzerland

Approximately 150 patients are seen in this clinic weekly. All patients are terminally ill. Ninety five percent of the patients become symptom free and fifty percent of the stage 4 (advanced) cancer patients recover. The therapy consists of:

  • Opening up missing tooth sites to remove hidden mercury deposits
  • Removal of all root canal teeth
  • Careful removal of all mercury fillings
  • Detoxify the patient from mercury

Removal of mercury from the body permits improved oxygenation of tissues which leads to death of malignant cells.

Mercury Usage In Agriculture

The highly toxic methyl and ethyl mercury are used as pesticides and fungicides. Seeds are treated with these agents. In the early 1970s mercury treated seed grain was shipped to Iraq. Instead of planting the seeds the recipients ground the seed into flour and made bread out of it. More than 500 persons died in a brief period of time (? 2 weeks) and 6,526 persons were hospitalized over the next 5 years. More than 1 year was needed to discover what had caused the problem because the afflicted persons did not exhibit mercury in their blood, urine or hair. Many persons, not aware of the danger, play with the pink colored seed and follow crop dusters inhaling the mercury vapor.

What Is The Position Of The American Dental Association ADA Regarding Mercury?

It appears that the liability of the American Dental Association is so great regarding mercury and the potential lawsuits are so potentially damaging they will hold their position that mercury amalgams are safe as long as possible. Prior to writing this article for the April-May issue of the Crusader journal Mr. Moore contacted the ADA asking them to submit their evidence that mercury was safe. No information was sent to Mr. Moore.

Are Pitfalls Possible In Treating Mercury Intoxication?

Unfortunately there can be dire consequences when too rapid removal of mercury is attempted. A physician at Dartmouth University was poisoned by 2 drops of dimethyl mercury contacting her gloves. Mr. Moore and a knowledgeable friend both agreed that her life might be in danger if rapid removal of mercury was attempted. The medical records disclosed that she passed 4,000 micrograms of mercury in each liter of urine before she died. There is no way to know whether an individual who is massively intoxicated by mercury will tolerate a conventional dosage of a detoxifying drug or not prior to it's usage. Therefore going slow seems to be the safest policy.

What Dentists Do A Good Job In Removing Mercury From Patients?

Dr. Hal Huggins of Colorado Springs, Co. did much of the original work proving that mercury amalgams are unsafe and developing effective methods to remove mercury. .Dr. Huggins has trained more than 5000 dentists in how to correctly remove mercury. He estimates that only about 1 % of these trainees are doing this correctly. He can be contacted at Dr. Michael Ziff of the International Academy Of Oral Medicine in Florida has a good protocol for removing mercury. He can be reached at


1, Moore, John Mercury: The Unsuspected Killer Crusader Issue 18 pg. 4-19 April-May 2004
2, Dr. Roger Eichman former member of Alaska Board of Dental Examiners and expert in Industrial Mercury Hygiene and Exposure

© 2004 Dr. James Howenstine - All Rights Reserved

Dr. James A. Howenstine is a board certified specialist in internal medicine who spent 34 years caring for office and hospital patients. After 4 years of personal study he became convinced that natural products are safer, more effective, and less expensive than pharmaceutical drugs. This research led to the publication of his book A Physicians Guide To Natural Health Products That Work. Information about these products and his book can be obtained from and at and phone 1-800-416-2806 U.S. Dr. Howenstine can be reached at and by mail at Dr. James Howenstine, C/O Remarsa USA SB 37, P.O. Box 25292, Miami, Fl. 33102-5292.








"The most dangerous place to be in a dental office is the room where the hygienist does the cleaning because the polishing of old amalgams instantly releases mercury into the air. When you have teeth cleaned request that the amalgams be left alone."