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Articles by Michael Bender

Michael Bender is co-founder of the Mercury Policy Project in Montpelier, Vt., where he has served as executive director since 1988.

Featured Article

It seems innocent enough. Your dentist is giving you a new filling. You get some of those little metal slivers in your mouth and he tells you take a swig of water. Rinse and spit.

No problem, right?

Unfortunately, each one of those slivers is about half mercury. Multiply that simple routine millions of times, and you have the reason dentists have become the leading source of mercury pollution in our country’s wastewater. Each sliver of mercury down the drain ends up in wastewater, then the nearest river or bay, and ultimately in the fish we eat.

In fact, at least 40 percent of mercury flowing into municipal wastewater treatment plants starts out in dentists’ offices. And those plants aren’t set up to keep all that mercury out of the environment.

The Environmental Protection Agency recognizes the danger of mercury in fish, so you would think it would be all over this, as part of its job to protect us from harmful pollutants. Unfortunately, it has given dentists a free pass.

In December 2008, during the waning days of the Bush administration, the EPA struck a deal with the American Dental Association, the trade association for m... Read more