In their Quick Study on dental composites (Physics Today, April 2008, page 82), the authors make the following statement: “Patients and practitioners have registered an aversion to mercury based on perceived health risks and real environmental concerns.”

The “aversion” is based on the unfounded suspicion that mercury poisoning can arise from dental amalgams. A popular myth-debunking website offers the following:

More than half a century ago, Orson Welles panicked his radio audience by reporting that Martians had invaded New Jersey. On December 23, 1990, CBS-TV’s “60 Minutes” achieved a similar effect by announcing that toxins have invaded the American mouth. There was, however, a big difference. Welles’ broadcast was intended to be entertaining. The “60 Minutes” broadcast, narrated by veteran reporter Morley Safer, was intended to alarm—to persuade its audience that the mercury in dental fillings is a poison. It was the most irresponsible report on a health topic ever broadcast on network television. 1  

1.
S.
Barrett
,
“The ‘Mercury Toxicity’ Scam: How Anti-Amalgamists Swindle People”
(
2006
), http://www.quackwatch.com/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/mercury.html.