June 13, 2001, 5:30 p.m.
Charles Brown, Shawn Khorrami, Anita Tibau or Freya Koss
Consumers for Dental Choice, 818-947-5111
Governor Gray Davis' Department of Consumer Affairs, responding to the state Dental Board's cancellation of a meeting at which it was to vote on language warning dental patients of the risks of mercury fillings, has stepped in to hold its own meeting with anti-Mercury activists.
The Dental Board had scheduled a meeting for Thursday, June 14 in Los Angeles to finally implement a law that requires a "Fact Sheet" explaining the risks of mercury and other toxins in dental materials. But at the 11th hour, the Board announced it was canceling the meeting, claiming it could not produce a quorum.
Kathleen Hamilton, Director of the state Department of Consumer Affairs, expressed chagrin that an agency of state government would be so cavalier on an issue of such importance as defining the risks of the controversial dental material amalgam, known as "silver" but in reality composed 50% of the neurotoxin mercury. On Wednesday (June 13), she directed her Deputy Director, Lynn Morris, to fly to Los Angeles and host a meeting on Thursday morning to listen to the views and concerns of consumers about mercury in dentistry.
The meeting will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, June 14, at the Junipero Serra State Office Building, 107 South Broadway, Suite 1059, in downtown Los Angeles. The public is invited.
The Fact Sheet legislation, written in 1992 by then-State Senator Diane Watson, gained new momentum with Watsonís election to Congress last week. Congresswoman Watson has written the Dental Board, stating the need for the Board to fulfill its legal duties and, at last, implement this law. Pledging the resources of her new office to ensure consumer awareness of risks of dental materials, Congresswoman Watson will be represented by staff at the meeting.
Charles G. Brown of Washington, DC, counsel for Consumers for Dental Choice, stated, "The Watson law has been in effect for nine years. This Dental Board seems to feel it can continue to ignore and violate this law. Itís great that we now have a Governor whose Administration says 'enough is enough.'"
The Board's decision to cancel the meeting coincided with the announcement Tuesday (June 12) of a lawsuit against the California and American Dental Associations, charging widespread deception about the risks of mercury and calling mercury amalgam "silver" to confuse the public into thinking amalgam was mainly silver. Shawn Khorrami of Van Nuys, lead counsel in the suit, called on the Dental Board "to stop shilling for the Dental Association and start protecting consumers."
Anita Tibau, a consumer activist from Orange County, said of the lawsuit and the meeting cancellation, "It's time that the Dental Board AND the Dental Association use the "M" word."
Deputy Director Morris promised not only to listen to the public, but also to state the commitment of the Davis Administration to implement the law. Khorrami said, "We are delighted that Lynn Morris will be here to meet with consumers after the Dental Board walked away from them."