September 08, 2006
From blog satire to FDA reality?
I hate to dwell on environmental violence, but right now I feel as if I've been kicked in the teeth!
If we don't want it in our fish, we don't wwant it in our thermometers, what is it doing in our heads?
If there's one thing I can't stand, it's seeing a thought I expressed as satire being taken seriously as a political (not to be confused with scientific!) argument, just weeks after I wrote it in a post called "Putting my mouth where my mercury is." Why, I even obliged with this picture showing off my toxic, mercury-emitting mouth:
Scary, no? Geez, and what if my toothbrushes are more contaminated than the coal the environmentalists want to stop the power plants from burning? The toothbrushes could have more parts per billion! Can anyone prove they don't? (And every time I so much as spit in the sink, there go billionths and billionths more!)
I've complained many times about reality imitating satire, but when scientific satire becomes scientific reality (yes, I'm afraid this nonsense has to be called science, because it's at the FDA), I don't know what to do.
Should I worry for the future, perhaps?
Anyway, the mercury in dental fillings scare is such hogwash that as I pointed out, it's been debunked for years at Quackwatch, and very few scientists or dentists have taken it seriously. (Until now.)
Nevertheless, quackery and superstition are persistent enough that another series of official FDA studies has been done, and these reports were about to be issued in final. Until, that is, the "consumer activists" stepped in. This led to a panel of "outside" health advisors being asked to vote in this climate of hysteria (how democratic of them!), and predictably, they've all but nixed the report:
A joint panel of Food and Drug Administration advisers did not declare the so-called "silver fillings" unsafe. But in a 13-7 vote Thursday, the advisers said the federal report didn't objectively and clearly present the current state of knowledge about the fillings.So, the consumer activists won. Based on what scientific evidence? From what I can see, none.
But as I've opined many times, activism works. The counselor whose reality echoed my satire was not alone:
The votes were a "start" to sparking greater dialogue and awareness of the issue, said consumer activist Sara Moore-Hines, 57.Who is Michael Fleming and why does he get to be a "consumer representative"? Does he represent me and my mercury-filled mouth? How do I know he isn't just creating future hassles for me? I mean, as it stands now they don't want me to be cremated in some states. How can I be sure he won't declare me a walking, talking, biohazard, to be "saved" only by either having my teeth pulled, or by submitting to some gruesome procedure calculated to further damage my mouth and my self esteem?
Is "consumer activist" code language of some sort? Am I not a consumer? Aren't most people also "consumers"? Did I or "we" ask for these activists to work tirelessly on "our" behalf?
Anyway, the "consumer activists" in this case are driven by a huge mercury hysteria movement which believes that the tiniest smidgen of mercury (measured in parts per billion) will cause you to shrivel up and die. Never mind the fact that mercury, like all elements, comes from the ground. Amazingly, man did not invent the stuff; he only found uses for it. Man "emits" about half the mercury said to be emitted into "the environment"; the other half is emitted naturally. Being an element, mercury is a zero-sum game like gold. There's only so much of the stuff. And while it is poisonous, the parts per billion stuff just rankles me, as there's no evidence that it causes ill health in the minute quantities the activists claim.
But there are plenty of people who assert that mercury nearly killed them, and whose testimony at scientific hearings is taken seriously:
Virginia Pritchett remembers getting her teeth filled when she was 7 years old.She wants them outlawed, but where's the scientific evidence that it was the mercury in her fillings that did these things to her? Why didn't that happen to the countless millions of Americans who have the same kind of fillings? Why didn't it happen to me?
All we're given is the bare assertion that she "has no doubt":
Pritchett said she has no doubt that the mercury in her fillings harmed her health. Her problems started during the late 70s, when she was 23 years old. Her health deteriorated over the years and she saw dozens of doctors before one finally linked her symptoms to her fillings, she said. Since she had the fillings removed, her battered immune system has slowly improved, she said."Dozens of doctors" missed a clear case of mercury poisoning? Something doesn't sound right about this.
Yet Ms. Pritchett is presented as one of the leading witnesseses. I'd like to know more about her case, because I'd like to know what happened, but I'm having trouble finding the details.
How do we know that the mercury did this to her? Reading reports like this, I'm even more skeptical:
It is the fillings she said are to blame for a two-decade health slide that included health problems ranging from stomachaches in college to seizures in her forties.She can't take public transportation? Why? Are the buses and trains so contaminated with mercury that they're hazardous to passengers? Or is it the presence of toxic passengers like me, who recklessly climb onto buses and trains without wearing safety respirators over our heads, and whose breath leaches quantities of mercury vapor no doubt measurable in parts per trillion?
Might there be something else we're not being told? She did mention allergies, so I'll be charitable and make the generous assumption that a mercury allergy is in fact her problem. How would that be logically any different than an allergy to peanut butter? Would the FDA hold hearings to ban peanut butter because a few people were sensitive?
Returning to the Pennsylvania counselor whose remarks to the FDA imitated my satire, Dr. Moore-Hines has described herself as a "survivor" of "amalgam poisoning":
“A lot of the poor get sick from these fillings because insurance tends to not cover this at all or much less than the composite fillings,” Sara Moore-Hines, a survivor of amalgam mercury poisoning, explained.Wow! Does that mean I'm a survivor too? According to that site, "175,000 U.S. dentists place 100 million amalgam fillings in patients’ teeth each year."
Do the math. That means damn near half the country consists of amalgam survivors. And what about those who didn't survive?
Folks, this is serious.
We may be talking about more people than died in World War II!
I do not know whether there is any scientific evidence to back Dr. Moore-Hines's claims, but from what I can discern, she's a psychologist and not a specialist in mercury poisoning. I also find myself wondering whether her claims that dental mercury harmed her are supported by any scientific evidence. Reading this account by her, it occurs to me that as in the case of Ms. Pritchett, there might be other causes for her problems:
"In June 1996 (after major dental mercury amalgam replacement was done) I fell ill with chronic fatigue. For the last 8 years I have been slowly healing (after my amalgam fillings were removed). Today, I am feeling much better and am grateful for my near renewed health. During the most difficult period of my illness, my body became extremely sensitive to environmental stresses, including my heavy traditional glasses. I also had to stop taking 2-3 dance classes per week. My glasses heavy on my nose created red, sore indentations and seemed like a thick visual wall between my self as a therapist and my clients. I sometimes became distracted in a therapy session, rubbing my sore nose bridge. A year ago my husband came home with a pair of "Silhouette Titan" J glasses. Amazed at their light, airy and almost invisible but stylish and flexible appearance, I purchased a pair for myself...no more discomfort no more walls between my clients and me, they are a magical eyewear companion that one day, when I am fully well again - will dance with me in freedom and joy."The "amalgam survivors" are organized, and have websites like this.
Can they can save me too? Now that I think about it, I'm sometimes irritable. And forgetful. On some days, I don't feel as much like writing long essays in my blog as I do on other days. Maybe I should look into this poisoning thing. Let's see...
What are the symptoms? That last web site, provides a list of symptoms chronic Mercury Toxicity:
# irritabilityWhy, from time to time I've had many of those symptoms! BINGO! Might it be all the mercury I've been carrying around in my mouth all these years! Imagine! If loss of self confidence, indecision, shyness or timidity, being easily embarrassed, loss of memory, inability to concentrate, lethargy/drowsiness and insomnia are all caused by mercury, many psychologists are either wasting their time with these patients or else they're committing malpractice!
As to the "myoneural transmission failure resembling Myasthenia Gravis," the link goes to another website, which reveals the wondrous results which obtain when the mercury is removed:
What worked for Ward had been, in the end, complete removal of her mercury amalgam fillings, some of which she had had since she was 7, others which had been put in at age 47. She had been prone to infections throughout her teens and, after having dental work done in her 20s, she noticed she was unable to sleep and was losing her hair. By 1985, her hectic life, working as the branch administrator at the Cobbs Creek Free Library, or hiking, playing the piano and jogging in her free time, was starting to take a downward slide. She noticed she was having equilibrium problems, which she knew might signal the start of MS. Again, her trips to various doctors yielded no answers, and it was only a consultation with a nutritionist that first threw up the putative diagnosis of adverse reaction to amalgam. Having found herself exhausted, housebound and virtually incapable of moving about, Ward undertook a regimen of vitamins and supplements aimed at strengthening her system and helping to detox. Then, referred to a mercury-free dentist in Bala Cynwyd, she was able to have her amalgams removed. It took time, since the necessary drilling-out is considered to be a flashpoint for vapor exposure, so a mouthful such as Ward's 16 fillings were removed by quadrant (a quarter-mouth at a time). The results were undeniably remarkable: Within a couple of visits, her continuous vision impairment receded, allowing her to take up reading again. Even more extraordinary, she reports experiencing her vision field return to normal in the car on the way home from the last appointment, allowing her to see the horizon properly. A practical person, not seemingly given to exaggeration, she puts it quite simply: "Getting rid of a substance that is known to be toxic allowed me to heal."(Charles G. Brown and Boyd Haley are two of the leading activists whose earlier demands forced the FDA to put its report on hold. And Dr. Michael Aschner (one of FDA-appointed appointees who voted against the report) is linked and quoted in a variety of activist web sites like this, and has been working against thimerosol in vaccines, and delivered a report at a 1998 meeting of the activist IAOMT. )
Anyway, hell hath no wrath like the newly converted. And by God, I'm feeling like getting my conversion today!
Did you know mercury in dental fillings even causes Alzheimer's? I didn't but I hadn't read this:
Besides autism, Alzheimer's has been the focus of research for its connection to mercury toxicity. Boyd Haley, chair of the University of Kentucky's department of chemistry and one of the movement's scientific big hitters, has pioneered research into the biomarkers for this neurological condition -- chemical changes in the body that might give some clue as to the cause of the disease. These biomarkers -- two proteins, tubulin and creatine kinase -- were found to be suppressed in sufferers of Alzheimer's: The lower the tubulin uptake, the more likely the formation of "tangles" of protein in the brain, a classic indicator of the disease. "We found there was only one heavy metal which repeatedly was causing those proteins to be suppressed," explains Haley. "It was mercury."Pay no attention to skeptics like this who claim to have debunked Dr. Haley! Who do they think they are to dare dispute distinguished scientific activists?
This all makes me wonder about something, though. I'm thinking I might not have the time and patience (to say nothing of money) to sit still for the long amalgam removal procedures. Wouldn't it be easier to just have my teeth pulled? Can't I be saved that way? If Alzheimer's can be prevented, it strikes me as a small price to pay. I wonder what else the government is hiding. Might they be hiding the fact that there are no toothless Alzheimer's patients?
(Nah; it wouldn't matter, because they'd be poisoned anyway from the toxic fish.)
Fighting scientific satire really is an uphill battle, and it might be even worse than pulling teeth. Because, no matter how much mercury we extract from our nation's teeth or how we do it, the mercury is everywhere.
Even in trees! No seriously. There is so much mercury in trees that forest fires are a serious mercury hazard, literally pumping mercury into the air!
As wildfires grow in number and strength worldwide, they are unleashing mercury that has polluted wetlands in the north since at least the dawn of the Industrial Revolution.And that was Fox News, not some crackpot environment site.
Attempting satire in the context of mercury in the environment is as exhausting as it is dangerous. What happens is that because of my mercury-related irritability, restlessness, and exaggerated response to stimulation, even basic words start looking very strange to me.
Words like "environment."
Does anyone know what the environment is? How does mercury "enter" such an ill-defined place? Sometimes, I start thinking near-heretical thoughts, about how the mercury was already there, and then I get like really really confused.
Me and my big mercury mouth. What right did I ever have to enter the environment? How can I save the environment? Sometimes it seems to me that the environment is nearly everywhere I go!
And I'm a walking, talking, deadly neurotoxin -- unable to distinguish satire from reality!
Perhaps I should be more ashamed.
(Appropriate shame might take the teeth out of my satire.)
In the interest of fuller disclosure, I thought I should supply evidence of my deadly brush with toxic shame, exactly as it appeared this morning:
Still, I worry.
Confession is good for the soul, but is it wise to admit to crimes against the environment in a blog post?
UPDATE: Anyone who thinks my brush with toxic shame is either clownishness or insanity on my part should by all means read this:
In my laboratory we have done this on several aged amalgams made from one conventional, widely used amalgam company. The results indicated that about 4.5 micrograms Hg/cm2/ day was released without abrasion, but this increased to about 47 micrograms/cm2/day with two 30 second brushings with a toothbrush. Therefore, the question remains, who is protecting the American public from adverse exposures to mercury? It appears as if those who should be doing this job are failing to do so. Having an unbiased research group repeat the study above on all ADA approved amalgam materials would be very informative and I strongly recommend that this be done even though doing this is was not supported by the ADA spokesperson at a past Congressional hearing on this issue.Imagine.
Every day, a brush with death!
posted by Eric on 09.08.06 at 08:14 AM
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