§ Mr. Llwyd
To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what evaluation his Department has carried out in the past two years of the level of toxicity of mercury fillings in current use in dentistry; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) what assessment he has made of the cost to the NHS of a ban on the use of mercury-based amalgams in dentistry and the use of alternative non-mercury based amalgams; and if he will make a statement; 
(3) what recent research has been undertaken or commissioned by his Department into the exposure of patients to mercury following the use of dental silver amalgam; and if he will make a statement; 
(4) what representations he has received in respect of the ban imposed by the German Ministry of Health on the use of mercury amalgam in dentistry; and if he will make a statement; 
(5) what assessment his Department has made of the ban by the Austrian Government of the use of mercury amalgams in dental fillings for children from 1996; and if he will make a statement; 
(6) what research his Department has undertaken into mercury hypersensitivity from dental amalgam in patients giving rise to oral lichen planus lesions; and if he will make a statement; 
(7) what research his Department has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated into the level of mercury concentration in the hippocampus, the amygdala and the nucleus basalis of people who have died of Alzheimer's disease; and if he will make a statement; 
(8) if he will evaluate the research material upon which the Swedish Government have now introduced a gradual phasing out of the use of mercury amalgam for dental fillings; and if he will make a statement. 724W
§ Mr. Malone
The Committee on Toxicity advised in 1986 that the use of dental amalgam is free from the risk of systemic toxicity and that only a few cases of hypersensitivity occur. The subsequent research findings and recent evaluations by other authoritative national and international expert committees are consistent with that advice. The Department continues to monitor and evaluate research in this area.
There are neither reasons to ban dental amalgam nor to carry out a cost assessment of the use of amalgam or alternative materials.
In 1994, the South and West regional health authority commissioned research by Bristol dental school into whether amalgam-related treatment should be avoided during pregnancy.
A European working group, which includes United Kingdom representatives, is currently reviewing dental amalgam in the context of the requirements of the European medical devices directive.
The Department is aware that the European Commission has received notification from German authorities of an intention to restrict the use of amalgam for certain patients. However, the Department has not received any formal notification of any German or Austrian ban on the use of amalgam.
There are only a few documented cases of hypersensitivity to dental amalgam in literature and there has been no evidence to suggest an increase. The Committee on Toxicity advised that there was no need for further research.
The Department has commissioned no research into the preponderance of mercury concentration on the brains of people who have died of Alzheimer's disease. An information sheet, prepared for the Alzheimer's Disease Society by Professor Jim Edwardson director of the MRC Neurochemical Pathology unit, concludes that there is very little evidence to link this metal with Alzheimer's disease.
The Department has received and considered the 1994 report from Sweden which states that the expert group found no evidence that there is a connection between dental amalgam and general or specific ill health except in rare cases of hypersensitivity.