Why Won't the Asbury Park Press in New Jersey Tell My Story of Being Mercury Poisoned While Working as a Dental Assistant?

By Karen Burns
Former dental assistant
December 2006

I worked in dentistry for about 24 years in New Jersey and New York City. About 10 years ago I started to feel very fatigued and achy. I had a baby earlier that year so when I went to my regular doctor they suggested in may be hormonal.

Months, years went by and slowly but surely I worsened. After two years of every test they could think of including lyme disease I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

I went to an alternative physician and he asked what I did for a living, when I told him that I was a dental assistant he suggested that I take a heavy metal test to see if I had a lot of mercury in my system.

I couldn't believe this when I first heard about this. Even though I had read about mercury's dangers I didn't believe it. I went to college to become a dental assistant. The only danger they taught us was to be aware of the radiation and take precaution when taking x rays. I was also taught that when an amalgam filling became hard that vapors couldn't leak out of them.

Now I see on the FDA's website that they even say in the Questions and Answers on dental amalgam page under #3 they actually state that amalgam gives off mercury vapors when being placed, removed and during chewing. Finally they are catching on. I wish this information was available to me sooner. Why aren't they telling other dental assisants about this in dental schools?

I finally went to Manhattan to see a Doctor who specialized in Occupational Disease. He took a urine sample and it said that my mercury was very elevated. He suggested that I stop working, and that I have me 12 amalgams replaced. Both suggestions I couldn't afford to do. So instead I got a second job and started to remove the fillings, which I thought was a good thing.

I didn't realize back then how much I was being exposed on the job, and I didn't take the correct precautions when having the fillings removed. I wound up getting a swollen neck and I my condition continued to get worse. I left one job and worked less and less hours at the job I kept.

By time I became disabled I was only working 6 days per month. It was very hard for me to come to terms with the fact that I could no longer do my job. I loved my job. I still visit and socialize with them and refer to them as my office......but sadly I can't work.

I attend college one class at a time with hopes of someone finding a cure for me and then I can be part of society. The one thing besides my family and friends that gives me hope is......I believe that things happen for reasons. I think that I had this "sensitivity to mercury" so that I can become an activist and help others from going through this horror.

When I got an email over the summer of 2006 that the FDA was having a meeting to reevaluate amalgam fillings I was so excited.

I had just lost my mother to cancer the end of July, and a week later I lost my workers compensation case in New York after 3-4 years of lawyers and court. I thought at the very least they would pay for the chelation treatments that I've been getting over the past 3 years.

I believe that most of the poisoning happened in the early days of dental assisting, back before we wore gloves and mask. We had a bottle of mercury and silver pellets that we put together by hand.

I went to a lawyer to sue the American Dental Association. No lawyer would take that case. Instead I was talked into suing my dentist who were my friends.

It's a terrible mess. I've spent thousands of dollars and hours getting I.V. chelation treatments mostly in Manhattan. I have no money or veins right now so the treatment is on hold.

So when the FDA meeting came up on Sept. 6th and 7th, it actually gave me something to look forward to. My health is so bad sometimes I'm in bed for 24-48 hours vomiting. Well, Sept. 5th was one of those days. I couldn't believe it.

So on Sept 6th, when I woke up feeling okay, I quickly packed a bag, loaded the car and drove to the meeting in Maryland. I was late but I still witnessed some amazing speakers.

Then the next day I was able to testify. I was nervous and I had a fear of public speaking, but I had to put aside because the truth needed to be told. I needed to speak up like the others before me. Here is my testimony before the FDA Advisory Panel.
www.MercuryPoisoned.com/FDA_hearings/Testimony of Karen Burns.doc

When I heard the FDA Advisory panel with my own ears say that they voted 13-7 against the FDA's White Paper, I cried in happiness. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I could swear that the man conducting the meeting said he really wasn't supposed to vote but he was going to anyway, so really I think it was 13-6 in our favor.

I had a long drive and a family to get home to so I got right in the car and left after I testified. In the last hour of my ride I had CBS radio on it was 6:30 P.M and it was Katie Couric's second day on her new show. She announced the FDA's story and talked about it on her show.

I was so happy. Here I was exhausted from the drive, broke because I had to use my own money to go, stay, and come back. When I came home I called my local paper The Asbury Park Press in New Jersey, who a week earlier had a big article stating, "FDA says that amalgam fillings are safe".

I don't usually read this paper but a couple of my in-laws called me saying they read that in the paper. Then they asked, "Isn't that what made you sick?"

That's why I wanted the Asbury Park Press to tell my story so that my in-laws and all the other people that count on them to report the news could realize that workers in the dentists' offices are being poisoned.

I mailed emails to every editor at the Asbury Press including the sports editor. I thought maybe someone would have a conscience or a different view. Not one reply did I get.

I emailed the Exec. Editor William C. Hidlay (732-643-4210 shidlay@app.com) many times. I think I gave up after two weeks.

I am grateful that when I went to the FDA meeting I met wonderful people and found out about the Mercurypoisoned.com where I get up to date information about my own state from far way. I found out about the children mercury poisoned in New Jersey at the Kiddie Kollege day care center on this site.

They say there are no coincidences so I know this happened for a reason and I will continue to do the work I was called to do.

Karen Burns

Editor's Note: For more information on contacts at the Asbury Park Press, please contact the people below. Karen supplied me with these contacts. Karen's story needs to be told in her home town. If you are from New Jersey, contact these people and ask them to interview Karen Burns.

I recently heard Bill Moyers of PBS telling how democracy demands that people hear what is going on in the news. But sad to say, two thirds of newspapers today belong to conglomerates and they control what newspapers print. If a newspaper wants to protect dentists and doctors and their revenue from medical advertising, they may not be interested in exposing how dentists or doctors are poisoning people from dental fillings and vaccines.

Contact the Press at The Asbury Park Press. They are a member of the Gannett Group.
phone:732-922-6000 or toll free 1-800-822-9770
write:3601 Hwy.66,box 1550, Neptune,NJ 07754-1551
other editors
garys@app.com managing editor
jimmyd@app.com Night editor
jfeeney@app.com online news editor
jschoone@app.com metro editor
ronnas@app.com features editor
pmd@app.com investigations editor

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