Case Histories
  Dr. Tano Lucero

The following story is written by Dr. Tano Lucero, a past employee of OSHA and currently the president of Bio-Ethics Medical Center in Scottsdale Arizona.

Having worked for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for 17 years, never have I witnessed anything of the magnitude of resistance in acknowledging the danger of toxicity in silver amalgams as by the American Dental Association (ADA).

In reality, "silver" amalgams should be referred to as "mercury" amalgams, since the composition is greater than 50% mercury. The deceptive reference to "silver" fillings has certainly made them easier to "sell" to the public. An ADA declaration of authority may have worked 40 years ago. However, today's consumers are far more aware and demand the truth.

For the last 21 years, I have worked in the field of chemical toxicology, first as a research chemist, an analytical chemist, an industrial hygienist and now as a medical physician. Several years ago, the Federal government determined that I was chemically poisoned while performing my duties and agreed to pay for a comprehensive program of environmental chemical detoxification (sauna therapy, etc.). They also paid for the removal of all my amalgam fillings because of the high mercury levels found in my mouth.

The unfolding of my unusual story began in 1987, when I walked into Dr. Wolfe's office in Albuquerque, NM to be tested for mercury vapor in my mouth. I had been referred by Jacqueline Khron, MD. from the Los Alamos Medical Center. I was under her care for exposure to numerous neurotoxic substances while performing my duties as government chemist and industrial hygienist.

I expected two things on this visit to the dentist. First, I expected that my 25-year-old fillings wouldn't be giving off high levels of mercury, since newly manufactured materials emit more of the constituents from which they are made in the beginning, than after they've been around for years. Secondly, I really didn't expect the mercury testing equipment to be that sophisticated or accurate, since I was used to using instruments that could stand up in a court of law against the largest companies in the U.S. I was wrong on both counts.

My intra-oral mercury levels were almost twice the OSHA standard of 50/ug/cu.m and the equipment was the exact make and model of the mercury vapor analyzer I had used to conduct my inspections of hospitals, dental clinics and other industries. The OSHA standard was based on an employee's 8-hour work exposure for a 40-hour work week. My exposure was twice that level over a 24-hour period, seven days a week. If I were doing an OSHA inspection of my mouth, I would be in violation of the OSHA standard and subject to a serious citation which carries a $1,000 penalty!

The ADA claims that when mixed with other metals the amalgam fillings form a biologically inactive substance. This is simply not true. Is elemental mercury escaping from filling material? The answer is an absolute YES! When you test for mercury vapor, you have elemental mercury in the air.

OSHA publication 2234 on Mercury states that dentists and dental technicians are one of the most at-risk occupations for mercury exposures. The effects of this poison on the kidneys, liver and brain are already well-documented. What more do we need to know?

Research shows that mercury can be inhaled, absorbed and ingested. Are levels of mercury from dental fillings harmful? I would say so. Even OSHA law would say so. When you consider the accumulation of airborne levels, absorption of mercury to the bone and tissue and the ingested level, I would consider this a serious health problem. What makes matters even worse is the fact that mercury vaporizes even at room temperature. And inhalation is more dangerous than ingestion.

Do you need to remove amalgam fillings? I am well aware that dentists are in a tenuous position when it comes to answering this question. My initial reaction, when I saw the airborne levels twice the OSHA standard, was to remove them IMMEDIATELY. I did not need to add this exposure to my already heavy load of pesticides, carcinogens and other neurotoxic solvents.

I ran across a medical director (MD) from a large company, who, when his company was cited for high levels on the lunch room tables, claimed eating lead was safe! There's not much difference in the ADA's position on
mercury, claiming it is safe to put in our mouths. When you have seen what I have seen and experienced what I have experienced, the answers to the questions seem crystal clear.