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BILL AS INTRODUCED 2007-2008

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S.81

Introduced by Senator Snelling of Chittenden District, Senator Collins of Franklin District, Senator Flanagan of Chittenden District, Senator Illuzzi of Essex-Orleans District, Senator Lyons of Chittenden District, Senator McCormack of Windsor District, Senator Miller of Chittenden District, Senator Sears of Bennington District and Senator White of Windham District

Referred to Committee on

Date:

Subject:  Mercury; dental fillings; mercury amalgam; vaccines; thimerosal; children; pregnant women

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to:  (1) require that dental patients are notified of alternatives to mercury amalgam dental fillings, using brochures and posters the department of health must produce; (2) phase out the use of mercury amalgam fillings, beginning with a ban on the use of mercury amalgam fillings for pregnant women and children commencing in 2008 and then applying it to the rest of the general public by 2011; and (3) prohibit the use of mercury in flu vaccines except in the case of a shortage or public health emergency. 

AN ACT RELATING TO PROHIBITING USE OF MERCURY‑CONTAINING FLU VACCINeS and phasing out the use of mercury in dental fillings

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS

The general assembly finds:

(1)  This act evidences the public policy decision to exercise precaution concerning the potential risks to human health when mercury amalgam dental fillings and mercury‑containing flu vaccines are used.  

(2)  Elemental mercury and mercury compounds are known to be toxic and hazardous to human health and the environment.

(3)  In 2005, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that recent studies suggest that there may be no threshold below which exposure to mercury causes no adverse effects.    

(4)  Exposure to mercury can result in significant damage to the central nervous system, brain, heart, kidneys, liver, and gastrointestinal and reproductive organs. 

(5)  Research has established that some developing fetuses and young children are very sensitive to the effects of mercury, which can result in lifetime developmental delays, reduction in IQ, and neurological damage. 

(6)  Thimerosal is a preservative that has been used in some vaccines since the 1930s and consists of 49.6 percent mercury by weight.

(7)  Legislation to ban thimerosal‑containing vaccines has been enacted in seven states:  California, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, New York, and Washington.  Fourteen other states have introduced similar legislation.

(8)  Dental amalgam contains approximately 50 percent mercury, which vaporizes and is absorbed by the body.

(9)  Highly effective and durable alternatives to mercury‑based dental fillings exist and have been in use for more than 30 years.

(10)  The European Union currently advocates strongly for the phase‑out of all mercury products including dental amalgam. 

(11)  Environmental findings:

(A)  In 2000, the Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies reported that over 80 percent of all mercury in domestic wastewater comes from the human waste of people with mercury amalgam fillings

(B)  Cremation is chosen in approximately 50 percent of deaths in Vermont, and this percentage is expected to increase annually.  As mercury emissions from cremation rise, the need for controls that are extremely expensive may be required.

Sec. 2.  18 V.S.A. § 12 is added to read:

§ 12.  MERCURY DENTAL FILLINGS; BROCHURE AND POSTER

(a)  The commissioner, after reviewing similar initiatives in other states, shall produce a poster and a brochure explaining the potential advantages and disadvantages to oral health, overall human health, and the environment of using mercury or a mercury amalgam in dental procedures.  The department shall make the poster and brochure available on the internet or upon request. 

(b)  The brochure shall describe the available alternatives to a mercury amalgam, and the potential advantages and disadvantages posed by using those alternatives.  The brochure may also include other information that contributes to the patient’s ability to make an informed decision when choosing between the use of a mercury amalgam and an alternative material in dental procedures, including information on durability, cost, aesthetic quality, and other characteristics.  The brochure will also contain the following information: “Dental amalgam contains approximately 50 percent mercury, a highly toxic element with potential human risks.  Such product should not be administered to children less than 18 years of age, pregnant women, or lactating women.”

(c)  The poster shall inform dental patients of the availability of the brochure.

Sec. 3.  26 V.S.A. § 726 is added to read:

§ 726.  MERCURY DENTAL FILLINGS; NOTICE TO PATIENTS

A dentist who uses mercury or a mercury amalgam in any dental procedure shall display the poster produced under section 12 of Title 18 in the public waiting area of the dentist’s office and, beginning July 1, 2008, provide each patient with the accompanying brochure. 


Sec. 4.  26 V.S.A. § 726a is added to read:

§ 726a.  MERCURY DENTAL FILLINGS;INFORMED CONSENT;
  PROHIBITION

(a)  Beginning January 1, 2008, mercury amalgam fillings shall not be placed in or removed from the teeth of pregnant women or of children.   Beginning January 1, 2011, mercury amalgam fillings shall not be placed in human teeth.

(b)  Prior to these prohibitions, no mercury amalgam filling shall be placed in a patient’s tooth unless a patient has first signed an informed consent form, stating that the patient has received the brochure produced by the department of health pursuant to section 12 of Title 18 and has read the warnings about the potential dangers of mercury to the patient’s health.

Sec. 5.  18 V.S.A. § 1131 is added to read:

§ 1131.  MERCURY‑CONTAINING VACCINES; PROHIBITION;
  EXEMPTION

(a)  In this section, “mercury‑free vaccine” shall mean a vaccine or other injectable product designed to immunize that does not contain or prior to dilution did not contain any mercury‑based additive, whether at preservative or trace amount levels. 

(b)  Beginning September 1, 2007, no vaccine shall be used unless it is a mercury‑free vaccine.

(c)  The department may seek an exemption from this section only when an actual public health emergency or bioterrorist incident has been officially declared, or in the event of a shortage in supply of mercury‑free vaccine.  An exemption shall not last longer than six months.  In the event of an exemption, each patient shall be provided written notification that the vaccine being given contains mercury.  If the department determines that an exemption is warranted, it shall notify the general assembly and committees of jurisdiction within 48 hours. 

Sec. 6.  DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH OBLIGATIONS

(a)  The department shall ensure that adequate supplies of mercury‑free vaccines are available for the 2007–2008 flu season.

(b)  The department shall immediately notify all vaccine providers after the enactment of this act.   



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us