Amalgam-Krieg in Florida


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Aribert Deckers


Review of Robert Baratz testimony before the Florida Dental Board by 2
distinguished Chemistry Professors and Researchers


Review of Dr. Baratz testimony before the Florida Dental Board by Dr. Ralph
Dougherty, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Florida State Univ.


"I have qualified as an expert witness in chemistry and toxicology in both
federal and state courts. I have conducted extensive research in analytical
toxicology. I have more than 100 papers published in refereed journals."

"To allege that there is no mercury in mercury amalgam as Dr. Baratz has
done in his sworn testimony before the Florida Dental Board is either a
reflection of ignorance, or intent to deceive."


Ralph Dougherty


Dr. Boyd E. Haley

Chair, Department of Chemistry

University of Kentucky 

3 January 2002

The following is my comments on the content and specific statements made in
the Sept. 29th Florida Dental Board where the FDA presented "Amalgam Related
Material" to support their proposed rule. Please feel free to share it with
whomever you wish and especially the Florida Dental Board (FDA). Sincerely,
Boyd Haley

With regards to statements made by Dr. Baratz. First, to be an esteemed
academic as claimed one should hold an academic position and publish
articles in refereed journals on his subject of expertise. I have been
unable to find a single research article on mercury or amalgams or about
anything authored by Dr. Baratz. I further could not find any source of
academic appointments in tenure leading positions. With my personal
knowledge of numerous outstanding and productive academic research
scientists available to the FDA for consultation I am somewhat perplexed
that they would select someone with such weak credentials---unless they were
searching for someone who would adamantly support their preconceived
position of amalgams being totally safe. Dr. Baratz is evidently well known
for taking that position. Finally, statements made by Dr. Baratz concerning
amalgams and chemistry in general are so pathetic that they almost defy
AMALGAMS AND MERCURY. However, knowing this is unlikely I will deal as best
I can with Dr. Baratz's statements one at a time in order of presentation.

Page 6, line 27-28. Dr. Baratz has no published basis for making this
statement. Absence of proof is not proof of absence. How can Dr. Baratz say
that a patient on a kidney dialysis program is not further injured by
additional mercury (a potent kidney toxicant) exposure from their amalgams?
I don't think such a study has ever been undertaken. When exposing a person
to years of a chronic level of toxic mercury it is the responsibility of the
pro-amalgam group to prove it does no harm, not vice-versa. Can Dr. Baratz
or the FDA confirm that the 22,000-fold increased mercury levels in the
hearts of inter-city young men who die of Idiopathic Dialated Cardiomyopthy
did not come from dental amalgams? { Frustaci, A., Magnavita, N., Chimenti,
C., Caldarulo, M., Sabbioni, E., Pietra, R., Cellini. C., Possati, G. F. and
Maseri, A. Marked Elevation of Myocardial Trace Elements in Idiopathic
Dilated Cardiomyopathy Compared With Secondary Dysfunction. J. of the
American College Cardiology v33(6) 1578-1583, 1999,}

Page 6, lines 31-32. One grain of standard sucrose does not weigh near one
milligram. Therefore his visual aid is totally misleading and indicates that
he has not, or does not, remember experiments where weighing small amounts
was involved.

Page 6, lines 37-41. Sodium metal when added to water burns violently, but
it does not explode when added to a glass of water. I have done this as a
demonstration so I know the results first-hand. No one would be killed or
even injured unless they touched the burning metallic sodium. Yes, chlorine
gas is toxic and is a man-made material (as is metallic sodium) that does
not exist naturally. Dr. Baratz wants to claim that metallic sodium and
chlorine gas are toxic but become non-toxic on conversion to a compound,
sodium chloride, and therefore, mercury in an amalgam is not toxic because
it is surrounded by other (toxic) metals that he feels produces something
that is not mercury. This is banal.

Reactivity and biological compatibility is the essence of the amalgam issue.
Human blood contains about 140 millimolar chloride anion and 124 millimolar
sodium cation. This ions are not toxic because they are not very reactive
with biomolecules. These ions are used to perform many biological functions
necessary for life, including maintaining the ionic gradient and electrical
potential across cell membranes. However, mercury is not found to serve any
useful purpose in human tissues and is a well known inhibitor of many
enzymes, including the enzyme that transports sodium across cell membranes.
In contrast to sodium cation, mercury cation, produced from mercury vapor by
a blood enzyme, is very reactive and inhibits almost every biological
pathway or enzyme driven function in man. To compare amalgam material to
sodium chloride in the manner Dr. Baratz has chosen to reveals a total
misunderstanding of chemistry and biochemistry of heavy metal toxicity.

Page 6 line 42 to page 7 line 2. Since all of the metal components of
amalgam are basic metallic elements with no charge how can someone make the
inept statement that there is no mercury in amalgams. It is an "element" and
the fact that elements cannot be broken down or changed is a basic tenant of
chemistry. The metals in amalgams have no net charge and therefore form only
metallic bonds. Mercury is a liquid at room temperature and quite volatile
because it forms weak metallic bonds with itself. This makes mercury unlike
all other metals. The metallic bonds formed between mercury and other metals
in amalgams are stronger and a solid phase is produced---but the bonds
between mercury and, say silver, are weaker than silver-silver metal bonds
and therefore break easier releasing elemental mercury vapor at a regular
rate. This is why you can heat a gold ring covered with mercury and rapidly
make it gold again and why dimes made silvery with mercury soon resort to
their old form. The bottom line is that inclusion of mercury into an amalgam
reduces its vapor pressure but it does not reduce it to the point that
mercury cannot be significantly emitted.

Dr. Baratz states that if you detect traces of mercury from amalgams it is
because that material has been decomposed by heat and friction. How does he
explain the observations of the release of 43.5 micrograms mercury per cm2
surface area per day for two years straight in a test tube without
additional heat and no friction? {Chew, C. L., Soh, G., Lee, A. S. and Yeoh,
T. S. Long-term Dissolution of Mercury from a Non-Mercury-Releasing Amalgam.
Clinical Preventive Dentistry 13(3): 5-7, May-June (1991).} Bottom line is
that it is quite easy to demonstrate mercury release from a dental amalgam.
I suggest the FDA not believe either Dr. Baratz or myself but instead make
20-30 amalgams and send them to the state universities in Florida and have
them determine how long a single amalgam must be in a gallon of water before
the water is considered unsafe to drink by OSHA or EPA standards. Then the
FDA can then make a decent decision on the mercury release and toxicity of
amalgams using data from an unbiased source.

Page 7, lines 10-13. Sodium chloride intake is necessary for life. Mercury
is toxic to every type of cell. Dr. Baratz's comparison amalgams to sodium
chloride is ridiculous. Amino acids contain carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen
and so does cyanide but the difference is how these molecules react in the
body---one is a food and the other a lethal toxin. Amalgams release mercury
and other metal ions and solutions in which amalgams are soaked are
cytotoxic! { Wataha, J. C., Nakajima, H., Hanks, C. T., and Okabe, T.
Correlation of Cytotoxicity with Element Release from Mercury and
Gallium-based Dental Alloys in vitro. Dental Materials 10(5) 298-303, Sept.

Page 7, lines 15-18. Yes, everything is toxic if an overdose is
obtained---that is common sense. However, mercury has no food or biological
function and is toxic at concentrations much lower than even most other
toxicants. Low levels of mercury have been shown to inhibit the same
enzymes/proteins that are found inhibited in Alzheimer's diseased brain. {
Pendergrass, J.C. and Haley, B.E. Mercury-EDTA Complex Specifically Blocks
Brain -Tubulin-GTP Interactions: Similarity to Observations in Alzheimer"s
Disease. pp98-105 in Status Quo and Perspective of Amalgam and Other Dental
Materials (International Symposium Proceedings ed. by L. T. Friberg and G.
N. Schrauzer) Georg Thieme Verlag, Stuttgart-New York (1995). Pendergrass,
J. C., Haley, B.E., Vimy, M. J., Winfield, S.A. and Lorscheider, F.L.
Mercury Vapor Inhalation Inhibits Binding of GTP to Tubulin in Rat Brain:
Similarity to a Molecular Lesion in Alzheimer's Disease Brain.
Neurotoxicology 18(2), 315-324 (1997). Pendergrass, J.C. and Haley, B.E.
Inhibition of Brain Tubulin-Guanosine 5'-Triphosphate Interactions by
Mercury: Similarity to Observations in Alzheimer's Diseased Brain. In Metal
Ions in Biological Systems V34, pp 461-478. Mercury and Its Effects on
Environment and Biology, Chapter 16. Edited by H. Sigel and A. Sigel. Marcel
Dekker, Inc. 270 Madison Ave., N.Y., N.Y. 10016 (1996)}

Later research with neurons in culture nanomolar (10-9M) levels of mercury
caused cell destruction and formation of three of the widely accepted
diagnostic hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease. { Olivieri, G., Brack, Ch.,
Muller-Spahn, F., Stahelin, H.B., Herrmann, M., Renard, P; Brockhaus, M. and
Hock, C. Mercury Induces Cell Cytotoxicity and Oxidative Stress and
Increases -amyloid Secretion and Tau Phosphorylation in SHSY5Y Neuroblastoma
Cells. J. Neurochemistry 74, 231-231, 2000. Leong, CCW, Syed, N.I., and
Lorscheider, F.L. Retrograde Degeneration of Neurite Membrane Structural
Integrity and Formation of Neruofibillary Tangles at Nerve Growth Cones
Following In Vitro Exposure to Mercury. NeuroReports 12 (4):733-737, 2001.}
Therefore, being unnecessarily exposed to continuous low doses of mercury
for scores of years is an unhealthy situation. Does the FDA operate with the
mantra of allowing itself to do this and eliminate any disagreement by
posturing that no one has proven mercury toxic when indeed this has been
done over and over. Due to the overall difficulty and complexity there is
not one epidemiological study showing any major negative effects of mercury
from amalgams, but there are none showing it to be safe either. With all of
the data on animal cell culture studies showing mercury toxicity showing
concern and eliminating all long-term exposures to mercury is justified.

Page 7 lines 15-34. This paragraph should convince everyone that Dr. Baratz
is way off base. I had to replace all of the mercury thermometers in the
teaching labs in our department of chemistry because of the OSHA/EPA
restrictions where the spill of one thermometer could create a toxic
in-building situation and the possible wash-out into the sewage stream
caused an unacceptable environmental hazard. Dr. Baratz seems unaware of the
long-term affects of mercury accumulation. Sure, he could ingest liquid
mercury a single time and walk away but how many industrial workers have
been seriously injured by less severe but continuous mercury exposures?
Also, if he did ingest liquid mercury then he could pay a severe price later
on in his life but he doesn't seem to know this. Why does he think the
government has outlawed the sale of mercury thermometers to the general

In this paragraph Dr. Baratz states that mercury is not absorbed from the
gut. This is totally incorrect. Mercury vapor is rapidly absorbed into all
hydrophobic areas of the body. Where is the publication to support his
absurd contention? He is further incorrect in his statement that the amount
that comes off of an amalgam is equivalent to the amount you get every day
by breathing air, drinking water and eating food. In a 1998 NIH study on
1,127 US military personnel it was shown that the blood/urine mercury levels
were much higher in individuals with dental amalgams and the amount of
mercury was correlated with the number of amalgams surfaces. The average
amalgam bearer had 4.5 times the urine mercury level of individuals who were
amalgam free. { Kingman, A., Albertini, T. and Brown, L.J. Mercury
Concentrations in Urine and Whole Blood Associated with Amalgam Exposure in
a US Military Population. J. of Dental Research v77(3): 461-471, 1998.}

Dr. Baratz states that even the most ardent anti-amalgamist have virtually
the same amount of mercury in their bodies as does the members of the
Florida Board of Dentistry. That would be true only if all of them are free
of amalgams. In a published report removing amalgam fillings dropped the
level of mercury in the urine in the patients by about 5-fold at a
subsequent date. { Begerow, J., Zander, D., Freier, I. And Dunemann, L.
Long-term Mercury Excretion in Urine after Removal of Amalgam Fillings. Int.
Arch. Occup. Environ. Health v66 (3), 209-212, 1994.}

Neither Dr. Baratz nor I have the right to make sweeping statements without
providing the scientific literature on the subject that backs up our
statements. Under adjudication many of his statements, now on record, such
as given on page 7 line 19, "So to say that dental amalgam has mercury in it
is false. It has what used to be mercury." will provide a feast for the
opposing lawyers. I am very surprised that Dr. Baratz has chosen to pass
himself off as an amalgam expert with no publications in the area and this
is compounded by what appears to be total ignorance of the relevant

Page 8 lines 1 to 10. My comment is that the EPA and OSHA government units
don't think the amount of mercury released from amalgams is safe. If indeed
the groups listed by Dr. Baratz say amalgams are safe (are amalgams listed
on the Food and Drug Administration list of safe dental materials?) where
are the scientific studies that back their claims. Who represents the NIH
and says amalgams are safe? I challenge Dr. Baratz to find a single research
article where experimental protocols are used that provide proof of safety
of dental amalgams. It is easy to compose a "committee mainly pro-amalgam
dentists" and have them proclaim amalgams safe, but have them show the
relevant basic research that proves this is another thing. Does he really
have publications from the Multiple Sclerosis and Alzheimer's Associations
that claim amalgams are safe? I would really like to see him produce these

Page 8, line 30. Keeping or bringing science into the dental profession is
my goal also. This means both Dr. Baratz and I have to back our statements
with refereed scientific publications, not wild, unjustified claims or
opinions. I would like to challenge Dr. Baratz to produce the research
papers that back his many claims.


[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


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Aribert Deckers
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