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Mercury: on its way out

EurEau welcomes the news from the Trilogue today, agreeing to ban mercury in dental amalgam from January 2025. As mercury-free dental filling materials have already been available on the market for many years and are often cheaper than dental amalgam, we hope that Member States will not make use of the temporary derogation offered by the compromise text.

Amalgam is one of the most important sources of mercury in our surface waters and must be phased out quickly. The urgency is exacerbated by the long life span of amalgam fillings meaning that mercury will leach into the environment long after the ban has entered into force.

This ban will also contribute to the circular economy as reduced amounts of mercury in treated urban wastewater will lead to greater potential for water reuse in agricultural irrigation and for sludge from wastewater treatment.

Mercury is a persistent, bio-accumulative and toxic substance that has been identified as a priority hazardous substance in the Water Framework Directive. For this reason, Directive 2008/105/EC (the Environmental Quality Standards Directive) sets Environmental Quality Standards for mercury, to protect the aquatic environment and human health. Mercury prevalence in the environment is the single most common reason as to why Europe’s surface water bodies do not achieve good chemical status.

This ban marks a major step forward in meeting the EU’s Green Deal goals, the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability and the Zero Pollution Action Plan.

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