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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Listener Letters

Air Date: Week of

Most listeners reacted to last week's report on mercury-amalgam dental fillings, and one offers a sweet alternative to sugar.


CURWOOD: And now, comments from you, our listeners.

(Music up and under)

CURWOOD: Last week's report on the potential risks from mercury amalgam dental fillings left some listeners wanting more. From Cleveland, Ohio, where he hears us on WCPN, Randy Cunningham wrote, "You neglected to mention the risks that dentists themselves face from mercury vapors. My dentist is aware of it, and monitors the poisoning she receives from the vapors. She intends on moving away from mercury amalgam fillings as soon as practical. "

And James Hastings, a dentist who listens to KQED in San Francisco, wrote to tell us that toxic vapors aren't the only problems with mercury fillings. "The greatest disadvantage of mercury," he states, "is that it is very destructive to healthy tooth structure, and it absolutely dooms the tooth to a lifetime of further repair. The baby boomers that had mercury amalgam fillings installed in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, are job security for the dentist of today. There are wonderful and aesthetic dental restorative materials available today that are far superior to mercury amalgam. "

Our almanac on artificial sweeteners prompted a number of listeners to tell us about another, less well known alternative to sugar. Michael Pearsall listens to KRCC in Colorado Springs.

PEARSALL: I didn't hear anyone mention a sweetener called Stevia, S-T-E-V-I-A. It's the leaf off of a bush from South America. It has zero calories, and yet it's 300 times sweeter than sugar.

CURWOOD: For now, Mr. Pearsall says, Stevia can only be found in health food stores because it's licensed by the Food and Drug Administration as a dietary supplement. You can sweeten our days by calling us any time at 800-218-9988. That's 800-218-9988. Or write 8 Story Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138. Our e-mail address is loe@npr.org. Once again, loe@npr.org. And visit our Web page at www.loe.org. Tapes and transcripts are $15.



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