KHN Morning Briefing

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Soaring Mercury Levels Found In Some Dental Offices

Advocacy group points to new evidence emerging that mercury fillings are leading to a toxic environment, but the Food and Drug Administration defends the procedure.

McClatchy: Tests Suggest Mercury In Air At Some Dental Clinics
Alex Hummell says few dentists seem worried enough about invisible, odorless mercury to take the kinds of precautions needed to prevent everyday exposures. As the head of a Littleton, Colorado, firm that sells sophisticated equipment to gauge airborne levels of highly toxic mercury at industrial sites worldwide, Hummell has watched manufacturers of all sorts put their employees through strict training programs in which they don special equipment to avoid even tiny exposures. Then he walks into dental clinics and is dumbfounded. (Gordon, 1/5)

McClatchy: Dental Group Defends Mercury Fillings Amid Mounting Evidence Of Risks
For decades, the American Dental Association has resolutely defended the safety of mercury fillings in the teeth of more than 100 million Americans, even muzzling dentists who dared to warn patients that such fillings might make them sick. ... But now, evidence is emerging of the potential consequences of the U.S. dental industry’s longtime reliance on mercury and its chief advocacy group’s determined crusade to fend off any and all challenges. (Gordon, 1/5)

In other dentistry news —

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Missouri's Poor Adults Could Receive Dental Benefits In The Coming Months
Low-income Missourians could receive dental care by April thanks to money collected from delinquent taxpayers last fall. Gov. Jay Nixon announced Tuesday the state will collect about $35 million through tax amnesty, a one-time grace period that stretched from Sept. 1 to Nov. 30 for delinquent taxpayers. Though it didn't bring in the $60 million initially anticipated, there was enough to fund Medicaid dental care coverage. (Stuckey, 1/5)

The Associated Press: Missouri Tax Amnesty Brings In $35 Million For Health Care
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon says the state's temporary tax amnesty program will bring in $35 million this year. Nixon announced the revenue figures Tuesday, a day before lawmakers are to convene for their annual session. Last year, lawmakers had assumed giving taxpayers three months to pay delinquent taxes without penalties would bring in about twice that amount. And they had budgeted $40 million of that money to expand dental care and increase the amount Medicaid pays health care providers. (1/5)

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