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Glossary over Tooth filling materials

Absorption

The process of taking in. For a person or an animal, absorption is the process of a substance getting into the body through the eyes, skin, stomach, intestines, or lungs. (Source: ATSDR Glossary of Terms  )

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Bioaccumulation

Bioaccumulation is used to describe the increase in concentration of a substance in an organism over time.

Bioaccumulative substances tend to be fat soluble and not to be broken down by the organism. (Source: GreenFacts )

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Bronchitis

Inflammation of the bronchi, the main air passages that lead to the lungs.

Bronchitis causes a persistent cough and phlegm production. It is especially common in smokers and in areas with atmospheric pollution. (Source: GreenFacts based on Urologychannel HC Glossary )

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Cell

The basic subunit of any living organism; the simplest unit that can exist as an independent living system. There are many different types of cells in complex organisms such as humans, each with specific characteristics. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Chemical element

A substance which cannot be separated into its constituent parts and still retains its chemical identity. For example, sodium (Na) is an element. (Source: US EPA Drinking Water Glossary  )

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Composites (in dentistry)

Composites are tooth-colored filling materials made of resin reinforced with silica or porcelain particles.

They are used in dentistry as one of several alternatives to dental amalgams. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Compound(s)

A material made up of two or more elements combined in a fixed ratio. (Source: CoRIS glossary  )

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Dental amalgam

Dental amalgam is a combination of mercury with other metals and has been used for over 150 years for the treatment of tooth cavities because it is very strong and durable.

Dental amalgams are made by mixing one part of liquid mercury with one part of a mixture of other metals: mainly silver, but also tin, some copper and small amounts of zinc. (Source: GreenFacts)

Dental caries

Dental decay resulting from the action of bacteria on sugary foods. The hole left after the removal of decay is the cavity.

However, dental caries, tooth decay and dental cavities are often used as synonyms. (Source: GreenFacts )

Dental pulp

The soft tissue forming the inner structure of a tooth and containing nerves and blood vessels. (Source: The free dictionary Dental pulp   )

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Elemental mercury

Hg. Mercury in its elemental (pure) form, that is, as a metal; hence the synonym metallic mercury. A shiny, silver-gray metal that is a liquid at room temperature. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Epidemiological studies

Studies on human populations, which attempt to link human health effects (e.g. cancer) to a cause (e.g. exposure to a specific chemical). (Source: GreenFacts)

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Fluoride

Fluorine (F) is the first element of the halogen family and the most reactive of all chemical elements. The term "fluoride" refers to its ionic form (F-) and "fluorides" to fluoride-containing compounds, both organic and inorganic.

Fluorine is never found by itself in nature but fluorides are found everywhere: in soil, air, and water, as well as in plant and animal life.

Fluoride is commonly added to tap water, particularly in North America, and used in dental products to help prevent tooth decay.

Fluorides are important industrial chemicals with a number of uses but the largest uses are for the production of aluminium and specialty chemicals used for refrigeration and air conditioning through fluorocarbons, for drinking-water fluoridation and for the manufacture of fluoridated dental preparations.

In excessive amounts, fluoride can lead to fluorosis.

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Food web

The interconnected food chains (feeding relationships) in an ecosystem. Plants, herbivores, and carnivores all form parts of the food web. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Fossil fuel(s)

A general term for buried combustible geologic deposits of organic materials, formed from decayed plants and animals that have been converted to crude oil, coal, natural gas, or heavy oils by exposure to heat and pressure in the Earth's crust over hundreds of millions of years. (Source: US EPA Glossary of Climate Change terms  )

Heavy metals

Metallic elements with high atomic weights, e.g. mercury, chromium, cadmium, arsenic, and lead.

They can damage living things at low concentrations and tend to accumulate in the food chain. (Source: US EPA Drinking Water Glossary  )

Immune system

The immune system is a network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to defend the body against attacks by “foreign” invaders. (Source: NIAID Immune System   )

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In vitro

In an artificial environment outside a living organism or body. For example, some toxicity testing is done on cell cultures or slices of tissue grown in the laboratory, rather than on a living animal. (Source: ATSDR Glossary of Terms  )

Ingestion

The act of swallowing something through eating, drinking, or mouthing objects. A hazardous substance can enter the body this way. (Source: ATSDR Glossary of Terms  )

Inorganic

Not organic. Inorganic compounds are generally structured by ionic bonds and do not contain carbon chemically bound to hydrogen (hydrocarbons) or any of their derivatives. Examples of inorganic compounds include sodium chloride (NaCl) and calcium carbonate (CaCO3) and pure elements (e.g. elemental mercury, elemental lead). (Source: GreenFacts)

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Inorganic mercury compounds

Inorganic mercury compounds are formed when mercury (symbol Hg) combines with elements other than carbon, such as chlorine, sulfur, or oxygen. Elemental mercury is a form of inorganic mercury.

Mercury binds in two states:

  • Hg+ (mercurous or mercury I), and
  • Hg2+ (mercuric or mercury II).
(Source: GreenFacts)

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Methylmercury

The term 'methylmercury' is commonly used as a generic term to describe (mono)methylmercury compounds. In fact, methylmercury is not a compound in itself but a cation, CH3Hg+, which forms one part of methylmercury compounds; usually methylmercury salts.

Dimethylmercury is one methylmercury compound that is not a salt. The methylmercury cation is normally associated with either a simple anion, like chloride (Cl-), or a large molecule (e.g. a protein) with negative and positive charges. The methylmercury cation is the most toxic form of mercury, able to inhibit fetal brain development, which results in the behavioural changes and reduced cognitive and motor ability. (Source: GreenFacts )

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Mutation

Any permanent change in the DNA of a cell.

Mutations may be caused by mistakes during cell division, or they may be caused by exposure to DNA-damaging agents in the environment.

Mutations can be harmful, beneficial, or have no effect. If they occur in cells that make eggs or sperm, they can be inherited; if mutations occur in other types of cells, they are not inherited.

Certain mutations may lead to cancer or other diseases. (Source: NCI cancer.gov dictionary   )

Nervous system

The nervous system is a complex, sophisticated system that regulates and coordinates body activities.

It is made up of:

  • the central nervous system, consisting of the brain and spinal cord, and
  • the peripheral nervous system which includes, the eyes, the ears, the sensory organs of taste and smell, as well as the sensory receptors located in the skin, joints, muscles, and other parts of the body.
Neurological effects

Effects to nervous system especially regarding structure, functions, and abnormalities. (Source: GreenFacts)

Organic

The term organic has different meanings (depending on the context):

In chemistry, "organic" refers to a chemical compound based on a hydrocarbon, i.e. a chain or a ring of carbon atoms onto which hydrogen atoms are bonded.

In agriculture, "organic" refers to a production system that excludes or limits the use of chemicals

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Organic mercury compounds

Organic mercury compounds, sometimes called organomercurials, are those containing covalent bonds between carbon and mercury.

Examples are methylmercury, dimethylmercuryand methylmercury chloride (methylmercuric chloride). (Source: GreenFacts)

Pneumonia

Inflammation of lung alveoli, the tiny air sacs deep within the lungs where carbon dioxide and oxygen are exchanged.

Pneumonia can cause symptoms such as fever, chills, muscle stiffness, chest pain, coughing up of phlegm, shortness of breath, rapid heart rate and difficulty breathing.

The disease can be acute or chronic and is usually caused by bacteria or viruses. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Polymer

A polymer is a high-molecular-weight organic compound, natural or man-made, consisting of many repeating simpler chemical units or molecules called monomers.

Examples of natural polymers are proteins (polymer of amino acids) and cellulose (polymer of sugar molecules).

An example of synthetic polymer is PVC (a polymer of vinyl chloride). (Source: GreenFacts)

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Protein

A large molecule composed of one or more chains of amino acids in a specific order, formed according to genetic information.

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Risk assessment

A scientifically based process consisting of four steps:

  • hazard identification,
  • hazard characterization,
  • exposure assessment and
  • risk characterization
(Source:   Official Journal of the European Communities 2002 L 31 )

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Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks

The Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) was set up in 2004 by the European Commission to provide the Commission with unambiguous scientific advice on the safety of a series of issues requiring a comprehensive assessment of the risks, such as new technologies, medical devices, etc.

The SCENIHR advice is intended to enable risk managers to take the adequate and required actions in order to guarantee consumer safety or public health.

The SCENIHR addresses questions concerning emerging or newly-identified risks and on broad, complex or multi-disciplinary issues requiring a comprehensive assessment of risks to consumer safety or public health and related issues not covered by other Community risk- assessment bodies.

The Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks is composed of a maximum of 13 members, but for any specific question may enlist the support of up to six associated members selected on the basis of their expertise. There is also a reserve list made up of candidates found suitable for a position in a Scientific Committee but not appointed. The members of the SCENIHR are appointed on the basis of their skills and experience in the fields in question, and consistent with this a geographical distribution that reflects the diversity of scientific problems and approaches in the European Union (EU). The experts' term of office is three years and is renewable for a maximum of three consecutive times. In agreement with the Commission, the Scientific Committees may turn to specialised external experts.

The SCENIHR complies with the principles of independence, transparency and confidentiality. The members therefore make a declaration of commitment to act in the public interest and a declaration of interests; requests for opinions, agendas, minutes and opinions are published; work and publications are done with regard to the need for commercial confidentiality. (Source: SCENIHR pages  )

Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks

The Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER) is one of three independent non-food scientific committees that advise the European Commission on matters of consumer safety, public health and the environment.

The committee was set up in 2004 to provide the European Commission with scientific advice on health and environmental risks. It replaced the Scientific Committee on Toxicity, Ecotoxicity and the Environment (CSTEE).

SCHER addresses questions relating to examinations of the toxicity and ecotoxicity of chemicals, biochemicals and biological compound whose use may have harmful consequences for human health and the environment.

In particular, the Committee addresses questions related to new and existing chemicals, the restriction and marketing of dangerous substances, biocides, waste, environmental contaminants, plastic and other materials used for water pipe work (e.g. new organics substances), drinking water, indoor and ambient air quality. It addresses questions relating to human exposure to mixtures of chemicals, sensitisation and identification of endocrine disrupters.

The SCHER complies with the principles of independence, transparency and confidentiality. SCHER members therefore make a declaration of commitment to act in the public interest and a declaration of interests; requests for opinions, agendas, minutes and opinions are published; work and publications are done with regard to the need for commercial confidentiality.

For further information on the SCHER see:
SCHER website 

Sealant

Any substance that is used to fill or close small gaps and cracks in another material. (Source: GreenFacts )

Soft tissue

Refers to all tissues in the body that are not bone. It includes muscle, fat, fibrous tissue, blood vessels, or any other supporting tissue of the body. (Source: GreenFacts)

Tissue

A group of cells joined to perform a set of functions. (Source: GreenFacts)

Toxic

Able to poison or harm an organism. Toxic substances can cause adverse health effects. (Source: GreenFacts)


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