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News

Here you can read about the latest news in the project and news related to the central objectives of the project.

News

Hg-rid-LIFE nominated for The Environmental Strategy Prize

Hg-rid-LIFE has been nominated for The Environmental Strategy Prize, among 15 other nominees. The winner should be inspiring to others and have the potential to make an impact outside the organization. The competition is arranged by the Swedish magazine Miljö & Utveckling and the winner was announced the 6th of November. The winner was the Swedish hamburger restaurant chain MAX Burgers.

Hg-rid-LIFE exhibitor during World Water Week

Hg-rid-LIFE was exhibitor during World Water Week, the 25th to 30th of August 2019, the annual focal point for the globe’s water issues organized by Stockholm International Water Institute. 4 000 individuals from 127 countries participated. Experts, practitioners, decision-makers, business innovators and young professionals from a range of sectors and countries came to Stockholm to network, exchange ideas, foster new thinking and develop solutions to the most pressing water-related challenges. Many interesting meetings and conversations about our project!

The project's results are presented in Layman´s Report

The results from Hg-rid-LIFE are presented in Layman´s Report.

Some of the results:

  • 21 kilograms of mercury have been collected and handled as hazardous waste after decontaminations of 76 dental facilities/132 dental clinics
  • Screening of 530 dental facilities checking the amalgam separators, suction systems, pipe system and levels of mercury in wastewater. The clinics have received feed-back if something should be adjusted.
  • A webbased training tool aimed to provide guidance towards minimising emissions of mercury from dental amalgam. Short video clips, interactive articles, check lists etc with examples from dental care in Sweden are presented. The tool is available in English, German, Spanish, French and Swedish. It can be reached via hg-rid.eu
  • The project has developed guidelines for waste management of dental amalgam to reduce mercury emissions from point sources as far as possible. Dialogue meetings have been arranged with representatives of dental care units, local authorities and service technicians in order to obtain perspectives on the proposal.
  • Development of decontaminations methods that will reduce mercury in clinics that have high emissions, for example development of improved decontamination methods for sub-optimal pipe dimensions or pipes with poor access.
  • The project has participated in eleven national and five EU fairs and conferences to raise the knowledge and communicate the web-based training tool. Examples of fairs in Sweden: Swedental, Tandsköterskeförbundets Yrkeskonferens, Miljöbalksdagarna. Examples of international fairs: International Dental Show (IDS) in Cologne, Germany, Krakdent in Krakow, Poland, The World Water Week in Stockholm

 

Another result of the project is that a prototype for a more efficient amalgam separator has been developed. Sweden Recycling and Atium, which is a Gothenburg-based startup company, is developing a new product where Atium's electrochemical filters complement today's amalgam separators to also capture water-soluble mercury ions. Atium's technology is based on research from Chalmers University of Technology.

 

The Hg-rid-LIFE-project ended the 31st of August and in November the Final Report shall be send to EU.

Final Conference with theme “Vision 2030: No emissions of mercury from dental clinics”

The Final Conference was held in the end of August 2019 during World Water Week, the annual focal point for the globe’s water issues organized by Stockholm International Water Institute. The theme was “Vision 2030: No emissions of mercury from dental clinics”. The results of the project, the situation in the EU, the latest advances in mercury research and upcoming technology were presented. Approx 50 persons participated (dental organisations, service technicians, authorities etc). As the project is addressing to the Water Frame Directive and the aim is to minimize emission to the waste water, participating at World Water Week will be a good final of the project.

Knowledge exchange with Medentex (June 2019)

In June the project visited Medentex in Bielefeld, Germany. Medentex is specializing in collecting, transporting and recycling of dental waste, worldwide. The project members was shown in practice how the hazardous waste is handled and a reliable waste disposal management.

Hg-rid-LIFE mentioned in the national plan to phase out dental amalgam (June 2019)

The Hg-rid-LIFE project is mentioned in the national plan established by the Swedish Chemicals Agency with the measures intended to implement the phase out the use of dental amalgam by 1 July 2019, in accordance with Article 10.3 in Regulation (EU) 2017/852 on mercury, and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1102/2008 and due to amendments in Regulation (2008:245) on chemical products and biotechnical organisms. Because Sweden already has phased out dental amalgam the national plan does not include new measures but sets out the approach for the phase out. 

A visit from a LIFE-project inLithuania (May 2019)

Last week the LIFE-project "Building LIFE capacities in Lithuania" visited us in Stockholm to learn about the idea, arrangement and the results of our project. A friutful meeting with representatives from Environmental Projects Management Agency under the Ministry of Environment of the Republic of Lithuania.

Knowlegde exchange in Devon (April 2019)

During early spring, the Hg-rid-LIFE project went to northern Devon, England to inform about the work to minimize the emissions of dental amalgam. We visited Pure Dental Centre, a dental clinic with 5 dentists and 12 dental hygienists/other dental staff. During an "Eat and learn", a lecture about the project was held, which was much appreciated.

Hg-rid-LIFE at Krakdent (April 2019)

Hg-rid-LIFE attends the dental fair Krakdent in Krakow, Poland between April 11-13.

- This project can raise awareness among Polish dentists that dental amalgam still affect the environment, says Piotr Kurpik, dentist in Kalisz.

IADS Webinar (April 2019)

Recently IADS, short for International Association of Dental Students, held a Webinar about Praktikertjänst's Hg-rid-LIFE Project. The organisation's objective is to improve research and dental education, with a focus on quality. You can read more about the IADS Webinar series on the organisation website and watch the webinar with Hg-rid-LIFE here.  

 

Hg-rid-LIFE at Miljöbalksdagarna (April 2019)

Hg-rid-LIFE was an exhibitor at the conference Miljöbalksdagarna 4-5 April, arranged by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. We got the opportunity to have a conversation with the Director General Björn Risinger. The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency is a member of the Reference Group in the project.

About 600 conferees, most of them inspectors from local supervisory bodies, participated. The conference was a good opportunity to have a dialogue.

IDS trade fair (Mars 2019)

Hg-rid-LIFE attends the IDS Trade Fair in Cologne, Germany (International Dental Show), between March 12-16. The project presen a newly developed web-based tool aimed to provide guidance towards eco-friendly dentistry. The tool is available in English, German, Spanish, French and Swedish. It can be reached via: http://www.hg-rid.eu/en

It supports sustainability in Dental Practice Management and it also helps to prepare for the EU-regulations concerning mercury from dental amalgam, executed in 2018. Examples from Sweden can give some inspiration.

 

Hg-rid-LIFE at Swedental (November 2018)

Hg-rid-LIFE participated as an exhibitor at Swedental, the largest dental conference in the Nordic countries, in the middle of November. There was a great interest for the project among dentists, dental nurses etc. 

Laws and recommendations on dental mercury management in the EU (January 2018)

The project Hg-rid-LIFE has produced a report comparing the Regulation (EU) 2017/852 of the European Parliament and of the Council of the 17 May 2017 with the current situation of handling dental amalgam in the EU countries according to “Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries”, BIO Intelligence Service, European Commission, 2012.

According to the report:

Hg-free alternatives to dental amalgam can be used in most medical conditions, but are still not widely used in a number of Member States. Hg-free materials are estimated to be used in 66% of restorations in the EU countries.

The quantity of mercury contained in people´s mouths in the EU Member States has been estimated to over 1 000 tonnes.

In ten Member States 100% of dental facilities are equipped with amalgam separators.

It is estimated that approximately 34 200 additional dental clinics will have to install a separator, assuming an average number of 2.1 dentists per clinic.

Mercury in dental waste represents about 50 t/year. It is estimated that 45 t/year from dental practices and up in chairside effluents, with only a part of which being captured and treated as hazardous waste in compliance with EU legislation. Out of the 52 t Hg/year of waste produced it can be estimated that around 36 t/year (69%) are managed as hazardous waste, 3 t/year (7%) as biomedical waste and 13 t/year (24%) as non-hazardous waste

Report on laws and recommendations on dental mercury management in the EU

Regulation (EU) 2017/852 of the European Parliament and of the Council of the 17 May 2017

Study on the potential for reducing mercury pollution from dental amalgam and batteries”, BIO Intelligence Service, European Commission, 2012

New EU regulations (August 2017)

Dental amalgam is one of the main sources of mercury use within the EU. There is evidence that 25% of dental practices in the EU have no amalgam separators.

The EU has decided on a new regulation concerning mercury which will enter into force 1 January 2018 (REGULATION (EU) 2017/852 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 17 May 2017 on mercury).

This means, inter alia, that:

amalgam may only be used in pre-dosed, encapsulated form.

children under the age of 15 and pregnant or breastfeeding women may not be treated with amalgam unless it is considered absolutely necessary for medical purposes

amalgam separators with a specific efficacy must be fitted at dental establishments where amalgam is used or amalgam fillings are removed

(Sources: Source: BIO Intelligence Service and the Swedish Chemicals Agency)

The Minamata Convention has entered into force (August 2019)

The Minamata Convention on Mercury, which will restrict the use of mercury in the world, entered into force on 16 August 2017. This means, among other things, that the use of dental amalgam is limited.

The Minamata Convention is signed by 128 countries and has been ratified by 74 countries. In accordance with the convention, the use of amalgam to in teeth will be limited. In Sweden it is already prohibited, with certain exceptions, but the use will now be prohibite throughout the EU for children under the age of 15 and for breastfeeding and pregnant women.

Most of the mercury emissions that falls on Swedish soil comes from other countries. In order to reduce pollution of the Swedish environment, it is therefore important that measures be taken at global level.

The Minamata Convention has been named after the environmental disaster in Minamata, Japan, in the 1950s. It was caused by the release of methylmercury in the industrial wastewater. Thousands of people suffered brain damage and neurological syndromes. Mercury is classified as one of the most dangerous environmental hazards, especially when it transitions into methyl mercury after a chemical reaction - a substance that is easily absorbed by living organisms and can spread in the nutrient chain.

Read more on the Minamata Convention website.

A study of knowledge, inspection methods and legislative demands (June 2017)

As a part of Hg-Rid-LIFE a thesis has been conducted by Märta Tobiasson, student at Umeå University, Bachelor's program Environmental protection.

The purpose of the thesis was to investigate how environmental offices in the county's municipalities work with the supervision of dental care clinics and the requirements under current legislation the municipalities. The purpose was also to investigate the causes of possible differences and similarities between small and large municipalities.

Abstract:

There’s been a general ban on use of mercury in Sweden since 2009 but it’s still estimated that the Swedish population have between 40 – 60 tons of amalgam in their teeth. Dental amalgam contains about 50 % mercury and studies have shown that despite the installation of amalgam separators mercury emissions from dental clinics still occur. Environmental officers in Swedish municipalities are important in the work to reduce mercury emissions from dental clinics in Sweden. The purpose of this report was to investigate how Swedish municipalities carry out supervision of mercury management in dental clinics as well as to investigate the legislative demands on the mercury management in dental clinics. The purpose was also to investigate possible similarities and differences between municipalities with varying populations. Environmental officers in Swedish municipalities answered a web survey. The results show that the knowledge about mercury management in dental clinics is greater among environmental officers in larger municipalities compared to smaller municipalities. Some of the smaller municipalities don’t carry out any inspections of dental clinics whereas every larger municipality does. Larger municipalities have higher demands on mercury management in dental clinics than smaller municipalities. The legislations used are broadly the same among the municipalities but because the demands made by the municipalities differ, it indicates that the interpretation of the legislations vary between municipalities in Sweden. Collaborations between different municipalities, more distinct guidelines and guidance are probably necessary to achieve a consensus amongst the municipalities when it comes to mercury management in dental clinics.

Praktikertjänst has at the same time investigated dental care clinics' mercury management based on a survey of the company's dental care activities.

The survey results will be a part of the ongoing work of the project, including reviewing mercury control guidance as well as educational and information material. The answers should not be seen as guidelines, but describe how the environmental inspectors and dental staff work today. It may be necessary for the guidelines to change, which the project should review.

In the project, there will also be different types of networking, including environmental inspectors through a reference group and in different types of dialogue meetings. This work is expected to be completed by the beginning of 2018.

Link to the thesis

Sweden ratifies the Minamata Convention on mercury (May 2017)

In May 2017, the Government decided that Sweden should ratify the Minamata Convention on mercury. The UN Convention limits and prohibits mercury in both products and industrial processes from 2020. Sweden becomes party to the Convention three months after ratification has been made.

The Minamata Convention on Mercury is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury. It aims to reduce or phase out the use of mercury and better control emissions so that the environmental impact is decreasing globally.

Mercury can be transported long distances and the majority of supplies to Sweden come from abroad. 43 states have ratified the Minamata Convention and EU countries have negotiated a common regulatory framework in 2016 to fulfill the requirements of the Convention.

Read more about the Minamata Convention here.

 

Breakfast seminar about sustainability (April 2017)

On April 26 2017, Praktikertjänst participated at Stockholm Läns Landsting's Sustainability seminar to talk about Hg-rid-LIFE. Among the invited were employees working with the environment within the county council's activities and private healthcare providers as well as the county council's politicians.

Anna Svensson and Helena Franzon from Praktikertjänst presented the project and received many interesting questions from the audience. Many were surprised that mercury is still a major environmental problem.

Raises awareness (Mars 2017)

Dentist Lena Gavelin works at one of the 200 dental facilities that's been screened so far.

- We don't use amalgam in Sweden anymore, which has lead to that many don't believe that mercury still is a problem in dental care. But ut acutally is. I'm drilling in amalgam fillings every day, and I think most of my colleagues do, says dentis Lena Gavelin, who runs one of Praktikertjänst's dental facilities since 2013.

- I have a separator in the chair that takes care of everything from fragments to dust when drilling away amalgam. It's great that I get to know if it collects as much as possible.

Lena Gavelin thinks the project is important and believes in particular that it is good to raise awareness and to set routines for work against mercury emissions from dental care facilities.

 

- Sweden Recycling visits my clinic and checks that everything works as it should. Then I get feedback on what may need to be rectified and if I need to decontaminate the pipes. That's really good. This venue has been a dental clinic for many years but I have never thought that there may be a lot of mercury in the pipes.

 

- Many people probably don't think that simple things like care and supervision of separators can make a difference for the release of mercury.

Warmer climate leads to more mercury in fish (January 2017)

A study made by researchers at Umeå University and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences has shown that a warmer climate could cause up to seven times higher levels of toxic methylmercury in zooplankton. Climate change has been projected to induce increased runof for large coastal regions globally,  thereby adding more organic matter to the aquatic ecosystems in the major regions of the northern hemisphere, including the Baltic Sea.

Mercury can easily be converted to methylmercury when it's released into the environment and is classified, by WHO, as one of the top ten chemicals that pose the greatest threat to global public health. It works like a strong neurotoxin in the body and affect the nervous system in humans.

This is further proof of how important it is to stop mercury emissions at the sources. The dangerous chemical can be spread over very long distances in the atmosphere, it is therefore important that other countries within the EU is fully committed to reducing emissions of mercury.

Read the full research article at Science Advances.

The EU negotiates on legislation to reduce use of mercury (December 2016)

In December 2016, negotiations began between the European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission on a draft regulation on mercury. The new rules aim to enhance the protection against the pollution by this highly toxic substance.  The use of amalgam for dental treatment of milk teeth, children under 15 years and pregnant or breastfeeding women will be banned from 1 July 2018 unless there are specific medical needs.

Member States must also draw up national plans for reducing the use of dental amalgam before 1 July 2019. Dental amalgam is one of the main uses of mercury in the EU. Within the project LIFE Hg-rid, we welcome the news and hope that the proposal national guidelines that we will develop during this project can benefit both Sweden and other EU countries.

Read full press release here.

"It goes without saying that we should work for a better environment" (October 2016)

Anders Jonsson is a dentist in Gothenburg, Sweden and is a part of the Hg-rid-LIFE project group. We asked him two questions to hear his thoughts on the project.

 

What are your thoughts about this project?

I think it is very positive that Praktikertjänst together with Sweden Recycling and IVL has received financial support from the EU for this project. It goes without saying that we should work to improve the environment and waste management, and help us learn from each other throughout Europe.

What are the benefits for you as a dentist to participate in the screenings?

The great benefit is of course a more sustainable dentistry, I think everyone wants to be involved and contribute to reduced emissions of mercury. In addition, you simply and easily review suction systems and amalgam separators. It is obviously an advantage to have it on paper when municipal environmental inspectors knocks on the door.