Australia's chief climate commissioner Tim Flannery calls for the removal of toxic teeth from dead people
Mercury in teeth is bad but mercury in CFL light bulbs is OK??
CLIMATE change campaigner Tim Flannery says mercury tooth fillings should be removed from corpses before they are cremated.
The practice should be made law, Australia's chief climate commissioner said.
"You don't want to poison people when you are cremated," Prof Flannery said. "No one would want that."
Addressing the Australian Medical Association's national conference in Melbourne yesterday, he said an awareness campaign was needed.
"I think people would be comfortable with removing the fillings, it is just a matter of awareness," he said.
Prof Flannery said undertakers should be required to remove the fillings and families also could request it.
"You just need a pair of pliers," he said. "It is a $2 solution."
He said the mercury in teeth fillings was not a problem in people alive because it was not in a methylated form.
"For mercury to become dangerous, it has to get into the atmosphere, which happens when we are cremated, then blow over the oceans (and) go into the ocean depths, where there is very low oxygen, and then transform by bacteria into a methylated form of mercury," Prof Flannery said.
"This is then ingested by fish and the fish get put on the dinner plate."
He said he had not raised the issue with the Federal Government, but he felt it was significant and could be dealt with easily.
While talking about health and environment at the AMA conference, he also raised concerns about a lack of readiness for extreme weather events.
Prof Flannery said deaths from heat were increasing and the community needed to be better educated about the health risks.
"Deaths from heat is a silent killer that is increasing around the world," he said. "The most vulnerable in our community are most at risk."
Prof Flannery said the loss of respect for science in the climate debate had been "one of the most damaging aspects".