An Introduction to Occupational and Environmental Medicine

This video is written and produced by Dr. Jon O’Neal, MD, MPH, FACOEM, and was released in 2016 at the annual conference of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM). The video gives a good overview and historical background of the discipline. It also includes a brief history and overview of workers compensation, as well as the occupational physician’s unique triangular relationship with worker and employer. In addition, the video presents information about common work exposures and routes of exposure, and the role of the occupational physician. This includes the prevention component of occupational medicine; treating injured workers; disability management; and various testing and monitoring roles, such as conducting preplacement exams; serving as medical review officers (MRO) in drug screening programs; conducting surveillance exams to measure ongoing effects of work exposures; monitoring fitness for safety-sensitive workers such as pilots.

Professional Perspectives on Water Fluoridation

Learn why over 2,000 scientific, medical and environmental professionals are calling for an end to fluoridation worldwide. This video is produced by Fluoride Action Network in 2009

“One of the recommendations I’ve made is, because we now know that fluoride doesn’t need to be swallowed, that the public has to be informed. They should be told that it doesn’t work by swallowing it.”
-Dr. Hardy Limeback- National Research Council Panelist

“As far as I can see, there’s no doubt that the intake of fluoridated water is going to interrupt basic functions of nerve cells in the brain, and this is certainly not going to be to the benefit of anybody.”
-Dr. Robert Isaacson- National Research Council Panelist

“Fluoridation is against all modern principles of pharmacology. It’s obsolete. I don’t think anybody, not a single dentist, would bring up this queston in Sweden anymore.”
-Dr. Arvid Carlsson- Nobel Laurete in Medicine (2000)

Special Features:
Dr. Bill Osmunson on Water Fluoridation (5 min)
Dr. Vyvyan Howard on Fluoride & the brain (4 min)
Fluoride warning for kidney patients (3 min)
An Environmentalist speaks out on Fluoridation (6 min)

In Small Doses: Arsenic

This is a short movie, made by Dartmouth College in 2009, about the risks associated with exposure to potentially harmful amounts of arsenic in private well water, particularly in New Hampshire and New England.

The Interwoven Global Epidemics of Mercury Toxicity and Autism

In October 2017, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. published an article on the website of the World Mercury Project about one of CONEM’s studies (1). Kennedy is the son of former New York senator and U.S. attorney general Robert F. Kennedy and nephew of former President John F. Kennedy. He is an attorney, environmental activist and syndicated talk radio host. 

The Interwoven Global Epidemics of Mercury Toxicity and Autism

Metals wreak havoc on living systems, including humans, animals and plants alike. RFK, Jr. discusses a new review article in Environmental Research and pulls together a wide body of literature with the aim of summing up current research and emerging trends about the global epidemics of toxicity and autism.

Reference

1. Bjørklund G, Dadar M, Mutter J, Aaseth J. The toxicology of mercury: Current research and emerging trends. Environ Res 2017; 159: 545-554.

 

Dental Amalgams and Chronic Disease

Working with a team of American researchers, we published in 2014 a review about the association between dental amalgams and chronic disease (1). The following is a summary:

“The purpose of this review is to examine the evidence for a relationship between mercury (Hg) exposure from dental amalgams and certain idiopathic chronic illnesses–chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), fibromyalgia (FM), depression, anxiety, and suicide. Dental amalgam is a commonly used dental restorative material that contains approximately 50% elemental mercury (Hg0) by weight and releases Hg0 vapor. Studies have shown that chronic Hg exposure from various sources including dental amalgams is associated with numerous health complaints, including fatigue, anxiety, and depression–and these are among the main symptoms that are associated with CFS and FM. In addition, several studies have shown that the removal of amalgams is associated with improvement in these symptoms. Although the issue of amalgam safety is still under debate, the preponderance of evidence suggests that Hg exposure from dental amalgams may cause or contribute to many chronic conditions. Thus, consideration of Hg toxicity may be central to the effective clinical investigation of many chronic illnesses, particularly those involving fatigue and depression.”

– Geir Bjørklund

Reference

1. Kern JK, Geier DA, Bjørklund G, King PG, Homme KG, Haley BE, Sykes LK, Geier MR. Evidence supporting a link between dental amalgams and chronic illness, fatigue, depression, anxiety, and suicide. Neuro Endocrinol Lett 2014; 35: 537-552.

New Environmental Initiative in Semey, Kazakhstan: The Former Testing Site for the Soviet Union’s Nuclear Weapons

Council for Nutritional and Environmental Medicine (CONEM) has groups in different parts of the world. One of these is CONEM Kazakhstan Environmental Health and Safety Research Group. In June 2017, this group was established at the Semey State Medical University to promote environmental studies. Until 2007 Semey was known as Semipalatinsk. The Semipalatinsk Test Site was the primary testing venue for the Soviet Union’s nuclear weapons. It is located on the steppe in northeast Kazakhstan, south of the valley of the Irtysh River. The head of the CONEM group in Kazakhstan is associate professor Lyudmila Pivina, MD, PhD.

Petition for the Release of Publicly Funded Research Data in the US on Mercury and Infants

Kaiser Permanente in the US used public funding to collect data and conduct a study on infants and mercury exposure. In their study, which had serious methodological flaws, they purportedly found that mercury exposure is safe for infants.

Mercury Free Baby has requested the data from Kaiser Permanente, but even after repeated requests and even though taxpayer dollars funded the study, they refuse to release the data for other researchers to check the results.

Infants are exposed to mercury from several sources, such as their mother’s mercury fillings, flu shots containing mercury, ingesting mercury-containing fish, and from inhaling coal power plant emissions. Approximately 630,000 infants are born every year in the US with high levels of mercury in their blood. Numerous studies show that mercury has detrimental effects on child development.

Kaiser Permanente has a conflict of interest on this matter because they promote a policy that exposes pregnant women to mercury through flu shots given during pregnancy and so they have a vested interest in finding mercury exposure in infants to be safe. The Kaiser Permanente study which purports that mercury exposure is safe for infants has the potential to influence public policy, and that would be bad for our children.

Please sign the petition requesting that Kaiser Permanente releases this data to the researchers.

This petition will be delivered to:
Tracy A. Lieu, MD, MPH, Director, Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente, Oakland, CA, USA

Increased Frequency of Metal Allergy in Patients with Connective Tissue Disorders

Stejskal, Reynolds, and Bjørklund examined the frequency of metal allergy in 38 patients with connective tissue disorders (1). Of these patients, 16 had rheumatoid arthritis, 13 had Sjögren’s syndrome, and nine had systemic lupus erythematosus. A control group of 43 healthy age and sex-matched subjects were included in the study. Metal allergy was evaluated using the optimized lymphocyte transformation test MELISA. For all subjects, the primary source of metal exposure was dental metal restorations. Most of the tested patients (87%) reacted to at least one metal, and many (63%) reacted to two or more of the tested metals. 43% of the healthy subjects in the study reacted to one metal, and 18% reacted to two or more metals. The increased frequency of metal allergy in the patient group compared with the control group was statistically significant (P < 0.0001). The most frequent allergens in the study were nickel, mercury, gold, and palladium.

Vera Stejskal is Associate Professor of Immunology at University of Stockholm, Sweden. She is founder and president of the MELISA Medica Foundation. Tim Reynolds is Professor of Clinical Biochemistry at the University of Wolverhampton, and a consultant chemical pathologist working at Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Burton upon Trent, United Kingdom. Geir Bjørklund is founder and president of the Council for Nutritional and Environmental Medicine (CONEM).

Reference
1. Stejskal V, Reynolds T, Bjørklund G. Increased frequency of delayed type hypersensitivity to metals in patients with connective tissue disease. J Trace Elem Med Biol 2015; 31: 230-236.

 

Evidence Supporting a Link between Dental Amalgams and Chronic Illness, Fatigue, Depression, Anxiety, and Suicide

Norway and Sweden have banned amalgam, reportedly due to environmental concerns. However, the use and toxic risk of dental amalgam fillings is still a subject of ongoing debate in many countries. Now, a review conducted by a team of international researchers has provided new evidence that mercury exposure from dental amalgam may cause or contribute to many chronic illnesses, as well as depression, anxiety and suicide.

The review article by Janet K. Kern and coworkers is published in Neuroendocrinology Letters (2014; 35 (7): 537-552). Three of the authors, Kern, Geir Bjørklund and Boyd E. Haley, are members of the Council for Nutritional and Environmental Medicine (CONEM). Kern is a director of CONEM. Bjørklund is founder and president of the association. 

 

Janet K. Kern, David A. Geier, Geir Bjørklund, Paul G. King, Kristin G. Homme, Boyd E. Haley, Lisa K. Sykes, and Mark R. Geier

Evidence supporting a link between dental amalgams and chronic illness, fatigue, depression, anxiety, and suicide

Neuro Endocrinol Lett 2014; 35 (7): 537-552 

 

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this review is to examine the evidence for a relationship between mercury (Hg) exposure from dental amalgams and certain idiopathic chronic illnesses – chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), fibromyalgia (FM), depression, anxiety, and suicide. Dental amalgam is a commonly used dental restorative material that contains approximately 50% elemental mercury (Hg0) by weight and releases Hg0 vapor. Studies have shown that chronic Hg exposure from various sources including dental amalgams is associated with numerous health complaints, including fatigue, anxiety, and depression – and these are among the main symptoms that are associated with CFS and FM. In addition, several studies have shown that the removal of amalgams is associated with improvement in these symptoms. Although the issue of amalgam safety is still under debate, the preponderance of evidence suggests that Hg exposure from dental amalgams may cause or contribute to many chronic conditions. Thus, consideration of Hg toxicity may be central to the effective clinical investigation of many chronic illnesses, particularly those involving fatigue and depression.

 

Copper Amalgam and Norwegian Dental Health Personnel

Fig 1 Heating of copper amalgam

Fig 1 Heating of copper amalgam

Copper amalgams, consisting 60-70% mercury (Hg) and 30-40% copper (Cu) (1, 2), were used very commonly in Norway for children with caries – allegedly because they were thought to inhibit the development of new caries. But they were used in a way making them far more dangerous for dental health personnel than other types of amalgam because the amalgam powder was heated in a metal spoon in a gas flame until Hg droplets could be observed (Fig 1). In poorly ventilated rooms, this gave an enormous Hg exposure by inhalation to the dental health personnel, but even more to the dental assistants than to the dentists.

The average levels of occupational exposure to Hg among dental health personnel was earlier very high, at least in the Scandinavian countries including Norway, and in some cases (not very infrequently) excessively high (3, 4), especially in public dental health clinics with large numbers of schoolchildren as patients, where copper amalgam was used as a matter of routine to make fillings for the children because of its assumed cariostatic effect. A medical student at the University of Oslo made a student thesis, where he studied the Hg concentration in the air in dental health clinics, and in some of them found excessively high levels far exceeding (by more than a factor of 10) what was at that time the maximal permitted levels of exposure (3). This student thesis was carried out under supervision of his older brother, who was working in a leading position at the Norwegian Institute of Occupational Health. But the older brother, who had been the supervisor, did never inform the Directorate of Occupational Health about his younger brother’s observations, as nevertheless had been his duty (because of his job in a leading position at the institute) to do (Olav Albert Christophersen, personal communication).

The late Dr. Hans Tjønn, who at that time was chief doctor at the Institute of Occupational Health, had suspected that the conditions at Norwegian dental health clinics were not satisfactory from the point of view of occupational hygiene, and had taken up this question in meetings both with the Norwegian Directorate of Health and professors at the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of Oslo (Olav Albert Christophersen, personal communication). But he had been assured both by the people in the Norwegian Directorate of Health and the professors at the Faculty of Dentistry that everything was O.K., and that there was no need for him to be worried (Olav Albert Christophersen, personal communication). If he had been informed about the findings of Jon Norseth, he would have had the evidence he needed to tell the people in the Norwegian Directorate of Health that their assumptions about good occupational health conditions in the Norwegian dental health clinics were far from correct (Olav Albert Christophersen, personal communication). And the Norwegian Directorate of Occupational Health had the necessary legal mandate in Norwegian law (Arbeidsmiljøloven) that it would not have been necessary for them to ask the Directorate of Health for permission in order to stop the problems. If that, historically counterfactually, had happened, several hundred Norwegian dental health assistants and dentists might have been spared for sometimes severe health problems caused by Hg poisoning, and also because of poisoning by some of those organic toxic substances that have been much used in dental health clinics, such as chloroform and hydroquinone.

This article is based on/excerpted from material by Olav Albert Christophersen and Geir Bjørklund.

 

References

1. Bjørklund G. The history of dental amalgam (in Norwegian). Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen 1989; 109: 3582-3585.

2. Bjørklund G. Health authorities and copper amalgam (in Norwegian). Tenner & Helse 1995; No. 2/3: 3-6.

3. Norseth J. Exposure to mercury in public dental clinics in Oslo–an occupational hazard evaluation (in Norwegian). Nor Tannlaegeforen Tid 1977; 87: 371-376.

4. Bjørklund G. Mercury in dental workers’ occupational environment. A toxicological risk evaluation (in Norwegian). Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen 1991; 111: 948-951.