"The very questionable ethics of experimenting on indigent and orphaned children with a very toxic heavy metal looking for neurological impairment.CRITIQUE OF THE CHILDREN’S AMALGAM STUDY CONSENT FORMS (American forms and Portuguese forms)[PDF]
Summary of critique.
The Children’s Amalgam Study is an $11 million study which began in 1997 to prove the “null hypothesis” that mercury amalgam dental fillings do not cause adverse health effects in children. Approximately 500 American Children and 500 Portuguese children are the subjects of the study. The Nuremberg Code, federal regulations (45 CFR 46 et.seq.) and common law require that study subjects or their parents/guardians give informed consent prior to commencing any study with associated risks."
Preliminary results show that the Casa Pia children, as of March 2002, had 4.22 ug/l of mercury in their urine. University of Washington researchers in 1998 published a peer-reviewed study showing that dentists with 4 ug/l of mercury in their urine had adverse neuropsychological and neurobehavioral effects. (While no preliminary results have been revealed for the American children, similar results would be expected.)
This critique finds that the informed consents used in this study are inadequate and invalid under the standards of the Nuremberg Code, federal regulations and common law. Dental therapy was not the primary purpose of this study. Its primary purpose was to justify the continued use of mercury amalgam by dentists even though it was well known that mercury from the amalgam bioaccumulates and has been shown to be the primary source of mercury in the human body. The purpose of the study is to serve the economic purposes of dentistry.
While I'm not one to subscribe to the mercury=autism argument, at least to the exclusion of all other causes, we do know for a fact that mercury does cause serious problems, and that as a cumulative toxin, there is really no "safe" exposure level.
The evidence linking thimerosal-based vaccines is debatable (although the secret embedding of lawsuit protection into the Patriot Act) may indicate that such evidence either exits, or is strongly suspected by the makers of childhood vaccines. However, vaccines are the least of your worries if you are worried about mercury exposure. Stack emissions from coal-fired plants, seafood and dental amalgam all put mercury into our systems, with dental fillings being the largest source by far.
And we know that at certain levels, people start showing various signs of neurological impairment. In some people, that may manifest as an autistic-spectrum disorder. It could conceivably manifest as, oh, say, Parkinson's, depending on genetics, individual brain chemistry, or who knows what else.
Given this is a given, the attempt to prove that mercury is "safe enough" in dental amalgam is unethical to start with, even before we get to the issue of human experimentation.
This study needs to stop - and mercury amalgam fillings need to become history forthwith. They may or may not specifically cause autism - but in a predictable portion of the population, they will cause brain damage and probably accounts for a stunning proportion of our mental health caseload.
I should also mention that one of the likely causes for the collapse of Roman civilization was it's lead-lined aqueducts and it's use of lead-based cosmetics. The barbarians that eventually toppled Rome suffered from no such amenities.
Therefore, I think it foolish in the extreme to be concerned as to whether mercury is the specific causative agent for Autism. We already know enough to take much more stringent steps to keep it out of our air, our water - and our bodies. This might frustrate researchers who would like to draw scatter-grams depicting the variation of manifestation due to ethnicity, location and lunar phases. Various industries and professions will scream about how there's no proven correlation between "insignificant" levels of mercury and subtle outcomes twenty and thirty years later. But we do know enough to err on the side of safety. We have the technology, the danger is obvious and widespread; all that's needed is the political will.
From a personal perspective, I've always had problems with my teeth and by the time my baby teeth fell out, they had quite a few amalgam fillings. I was also environmentally exposed to elemental mercury, mercury in fungicides, herbicides and possibly pesticides - aside from the direct neurotoxic effects of such compounds as DDT, 2,4,5T and other such chemicals.
It strikes me, though, that of all the potential environmental causes that could have lead to neurological damage from growing up in the time of "better living through chemistry" mercury is the one thing I can do something about, with some possible positive benefit.
Pardon me, but I think I need to go pee in a cup...
tag: Nuremberg Code, human experimentation, children, dental amalgam, ADA, mercury