Regulation (EU) 2017/852 covers the full life cycle of mercury. It complements a large body of existing EU environmental law on mercury, by inter alia:
- Prohibiting the export of mercury and mercury compounds;
- Prohibiting the manufacture, export and import of a large range of mercury-added products;
- Putting an end to all uses of mercury catalysts and large electrodes in industrial processes;
- Reducing the use of and pollution from dental amalgam, which is the last large use of mercury in the EU, and setting out a process to assess the feasibility of a complete phase out of the use of mercury in dentistry;
- Closing the door to future new uses of mercury in industry and in products;
- Ensuring that all mercury waste is safely taken out of the economic sphere, stabilised in a less toxic form and stored permanently in environmentally sound conditions.
Article 10 of Regulation (EU) 2017/852 sets the following restrictions:
- As from 1 July 2018, the use of dental amalgam is prohibited for dental treatment of (i) deciduous teeth, (ii) of children under 15 years and (iii) of pregnant or breastfeeding women, unless deemed strictly necessary by the dental practitioner on the ground of specific medical needs of the patient.
- By 1 July 2019, each Member State must set out and publish on the Internet a national plan on measures to phase down the use of dental amalgam.
- As from 1 January 2019, dental practitioners are no longer allowed to use dental amalgam in bulk, but only in pre-dosed encapsulated form so as to prevent exposure of the patient and practitioner.
- As from 1 January 2019, all dental facilities dealing with dental amalgam (use of amalgam and/or removing dental amalgam fillings) must be equipped with amalgam separators ensuring the retention and collection of amalgam particles with a view to preventing their release into wastewater systems. Separators will have to maintain a minimum retention level of 95%; immediately in case of new separators, by 1 January 2021 in case of existing separators.
- Dental practitioners must ensure that their amalgam waste (e.g. amalgam residues, particles, fillings and teeth, or parts thereof, contaminated by dental amalgam) are handled and collected by authorised waste management establishments or undertakings (no direct or indirect release into the environment).
The Commission shall report by 30 June 2020 on the feasibility of a phase out of the use of dental amalgam in the long term, and preferably by 2030, and present concomitantly, if deemed appropriate, a legislative proposal.
Assessment of the feasibility of phasing out dental amalgam
The European Commission has launched a study on the "Assessment of the feasibility of phasing out dental amalgam". The objective of the study is to assist the Commission in assessing the feasibility of a phase-out of dental amalgam preferably by 2030, as required by Article 19(1)(b). The study will include an expert workshop that would take place earliest in autumn 2019.
The output of this study will be the basis for report reviewing on the feasibility of the phase-out of dental amalgam that the European Commission will deliver to the European Parliament and Council by 30 June 2020.
Committee and expert group
The Commission regularly convenes meetings of the Mercury Regulation Committee and of the Mercury Expert Group that gather governmental experts to work on implementation of the Regulation. All documents concerning the meetings of both groups are publicly available.
The Commission has adopted the following Implementing Acts: