Use of cremation has increased, mainly because it’s cheaper than standard burial, from 24% in 1998 to 45% in 2013. See their statistics page for more information.
When burning humans or other animals, there are toxic emissions associated with it, particularly when the following contaminants are an issue:
- any mercury amalgam dental fillings which haven’t been removed
- organohalogens (dioxins, furans, etc.) and other toxics accumulated through diet and other exposures (this is unavoidable, though a vegan/vegetarian diet will minimize exposure and toxin accumulation)
- any plutonium pacemakers which haven’t been removed
- silicone breast implants, which can contain PVC, Methylene Chloride and other toxic chemicals
- other metal or plastic implants in humans
- radioactive or toxic tracers or testing chemicals from animal experimentation (for animal carcass incinerators)
- metal or plastic implants of tracking chips in pets (for pet crematoria)
There are similar hazards associated with pet crematoria and with animal carcass incinerators (often associated with research universities where animal testing occurs).
- This 2003 study shows that the risk of stillbirth was 4% higher and the risk of the life threatening brain abnormality anencephalus was 5% higher among babies whose mothers lived near to crematoria. More details here.
- Canada’s Interior Health Authority did a literature review and “concluded that fumes from crematoriums are potentially harmful and that they should not be located close to a residential area.” It also “found that particulate matter, which can be inhaled deep into lung tissue, is the chief threat.” (see “Put a lid on fumes from cremation,” Vancouver Sun, 5/12/2006)
- Public Health Impact of Crematoria (report by Chief Medical Officer of British Columbia outlining mercury, dioxin, particulate matter and other emissions concerns; report states that crematoria could have a negative impact on health and should not be located in residential neighborhoods)
Mercury Amalgam Fillings:
Removal of Mercury Amalgam Fillings Prior to Cremation:
This equates to as much dioxin as burning:
- 3,205 pounds of tires;
- 320 pounds of trash in a trash incinerator; or
- 426 pounds of hazardous waste in a hazardous waste incinerator
Ordinances Used to Combat Crematoria
Two crematoria were stopped by local governments in Pennsylvania in 2006 and 2007 through the use of local air pollution ordinances. West Reading Borough passed an ordinance requiring continuous monitoring of mercury emissions, real-time reporting of emissions data on a website and establishing strict emissions limits. Kulpmont Borough later passed a similar ordinance, regulating both mercury and dioxins and creating a 900-foot set-back requirement from residential properties.
Property Value Effects
This 2015 White Paper was published related to a proposed crematorium in Oklahoma (note: the appendix section has source information in this paper) – link to download here https://no2crematory.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/crematory-white-paper-bethany-ok.pdf?fbclid=IwAR3B5bKW-0BIuWZy_y_MQOAcfLIdvcaUyKDRwcEqAj5Crm60qt8Lm7RYWvg
Note: The area was zoned COMMERCIAL, not even residential. The paper is 113 pages long. It concludes that “recent studies give a cone of depression with a maximum loss of approximately 17.5% and an estimated zone of influence of 0.5 miles.” Estimating possible impact based on these calculations, Middletown residents within 0.5 miles (2600 feet) should contemplate the possible loss of 17% or more on their property value. Estimating 200 homes in the immediate vicinity, the combined value is greater than 100 million dollars, so that would result a loss of over 17 million dollars to all of us just on those immediate homes, not accounting for other potential impact resonating from these property values lowering.
Official Medical and Scientific References On Health Dangers
Hundreds of medical papers …
These references are in PubMed and other scientific sources. This is NOT a complete list of references
The cremation process generates particulate matter and gaseous pollutants such as PM2.5, carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx), mercury (Hg), polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins, dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs), among other persistent organic pollutants, since the bodies have a percentage of chlorine; these emissions depend on crematorium design, combustion temperature, residence time, chimney design and eventually the emission control equipment. Particulate matter and gaseous pollutant emissions depend on crematorium design, combustion temperature, residence time, chimney design and eventually the emission control equipment.
PM2.5 emissions from crematoriums varied according with several variables during the process, such as time, temperature, and oxygen supply to guarantee a correct operation, but neither temperature nor service number correlated with emission concentrations. Additionally, independent variables of the process related to the death body that it is not possible to control such as weight, gender, age, cause of death, among others could have influence also in the emissions volume, but it was not possible to find any correlation among those data and the emissions. It should be mandatory the installation of particulate control equipment which would need a previous gas cooler equipment since exhaust gases temperature is more than 400 °C.
Fine Particles (PM 2.5) Questions and Answers
Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is an air pollutant that is a concern for people’s health when levels in air are high. PM2.5 are tiny particles in the air that reduce visibility and cause the air to appear hazy when levels are elevated. Outdoor PM2.5 levels are most likely to be elevated on days with little or no wind or air mixing. The New York State Departments of Health (DOH) and Environmental Conservation (DEC) alert the public by issuing a PM2.5Health Advisory when PM2.5 concentrations in outdoor air are expected to be unhealthy for sensitive groups.
What is Particulate Matter 2.5 (PM2.5)?
The term fine particles, or particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5), refers to tiny particles or droplets in the air that are two and one half microns or less in width. Like inches, meters and miles, a micron is a unit of measurement for distance. There are about 25,000 microns in an inch. The widths of the larger particles in the PM2.5 size range would be about thirty times smaller than that of a human hair. The smaller particles are so small that several thousand of them could fit on the period at the end of this sentence.
How can PM2.5 affect my health?
Particles in the PM2.5 size range are able to travel deeply into the respiratory tract, reaching the lungs. Exposure to fine particles can cause short-term health effects such as eye, nose, throat and lung irritation, coughing, sneezing, runny nose and shortness of breath. Exposure to fine particles can also affect lung function and worsen medical conditions such as asthma and heart disease. Scientific studies have linked increases in daily PM2.5 exposure with increased respiratory and cardiovascular hospital admissions, emergency department visits and deaths. Studies also suggest that long term exposure to fine particulate matter may be associated with increased rates of chronic bronchitis, reduced lung function and increased mortality from lung cancer and heart disease. People with breathing and heart problems, children and the elderly may be particularly sensitive to PM2.5.
Are there ways to reduce my exposure to PM2.5?
When outdoor levels of PM2.5 are elevated, going indoors may reduce your exposure, although some outdoor particles will come indoors. If there are significant indoor sources of PM2.5, levels inside may not be lower than outside. Some ways to reduce exposure are to limit indoor and outdoor activities that produce fine particles (for example, burning candles indoors or open burning outdoors) and avoid strenuous activity in areas where fine particle levels are high.
(i.e., don’t let the kids or people play outside, anymore)
What follows is from GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH
Notice something important:
=> The above paper says 100 cremations per year may emit approximately two pounds of mercury (see below)
=> Well, FAIRVIEW CEMETERY applied for 4,200 (+/-) of burning time a year, or 4,200 cremations (+/-)
=> That is a whopping 84 pounds of mercury a year THAT THE FAIRVIEW CEMETERY will spew onto the kids around here.
=> By the time a child living within 3-5 miles of the smack-in-the-middle-of-a-residential-neighborhood dual incinerator, reaches age 20, they could have been exposed to 1,640 pounds of mercury.
What is released into the air during crematory operations?
Emissions from crematory operations may include a very small amount of several chemicals. The source of many of the chemicals is the body burden from lifetime exposures that is stored in fat and tissue. Chemicals emitted by crematories may include mercury, dioxin, hydrochloric acid, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and dioxins. These chemicals are emitted at extremely low levels and when released into the air, they break down quickly by sunlight, or are diluted and carried by the wind.
One chemical, mercury, is sometimes a concern for nearby residents. Mercury is a silver colored metal found in nature and used in manufactured consumer products such as thermometers. People can be exposed to mercury by touching it, breathing it, eating contaminated fish or other food, or drinking contaminated water. Mercury emissions from crematories are often from dental fillings; however, its use as dental amalgam is declining because inexpensive substitute materials are now available.
Mercury becomes a gas (commonly called vapor) when burned at low temperatures (80 degrees Fahrenheit). The vapors are colorless and odorless, and can travel in outdoor air long distances. It eventually falls to the ground attached to dust and rain. Repeated exposure to low levels of mercury over a long period of time can be harmful to the brain and kidneys.
Regulated industrial emissions of mercury are measured in tons per year. For example, a coal-fired power plant will emit up to 48 tons of mercury per year. Studies performed on existing crematories have measured mercury emissions in grams per cremation given an average of 100 cremations per year. Using this average, studies show a crematory may emit approximately two pounds of mercury (0.2% of one ton) per year. In addition, emission control devices that reduce mercury levels released to air are located on crematory stacks.
Can other chemicals from crematories affect my health?
Dioxins are emitted into outdoor air from cremation in very small amounts. The term “dioxin” refers to a group of chemicals, however the most toxic is 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin, or TCDD. Because TCDD is the most toxic, health risk associated with dioxin is discussed in terms of TCDD. In a study conducted with the California Air Resources Board, the EPA determined that TCDD emitted from all crematories throughout the United States was approximately 0.0000002 pounds per year, which is far less than is released from motor vehicles.
In addition, extremely small amounts of lead, cadmium, hydrochloric acid, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, and carbon monoxide are released to air, and are diluted and carried by the wind. The trace amounts of these chemicals emitted during operations will not affect outdoor or indoor air quality. Crematory emissions are far below levels of environmental and health concern and, therefore, will not affect your health.
What about noise or odors from crematories?
Unpleasant odors and loud noises noise are nuisance issues, and may affect an individual’s comfort and quality of life. They can have social and behavioral affects, such as diminishing one’s sense of well being, enjoyment of daily activities, and ability to perform various tasks. However, odor and noise perception is subjective, meaning different individuals may react differently to the same type and intensity of odor and noise. Residents concerned about noise, odor, or other nuisances in their neighborhoods should refer to local nuisance ordinances, or contact their local code enforcement offices.
Mercury emission from crematoria
Data on amount of mercury per body ….
Anna Santarsiero(a), Gaetano Settimo(a) and Elena Dell’Andrea(b)
(a)Dipartimento di Ambiente e Connessa Prevenzione Primaria,
Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy
(b)Azienda Regionale per la Prevenzione e Protezione Ambientale del Veneto (ARPAV),
Dipartimento di Venezia, Mestre (Venezia), Italy
Indirizzo per la corrispondenza (Address for correspondence): Anna Santarsiero, Dipartimento di Ambiente e Connessa
Prevenzione Primaria, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Viale Regina Elena 299, 00161 Roma. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Summary. The purpose of this study, undertaken at a cremator representing an example of current equipment and cremation practices in use in Italy, is to assess the possible mercury emitted during cremation and substantiate the current data available. This paper reports some preliminary results concerning mercury and total particulate matter emissions during three cremation processes. The obtained results gave a mercury concentration ranging from 0.005 to 0.300 mg/m3
and a mercury emission factor ranging from
0.036 to 2.140 g/corpse cremated. The total particulate matter concentration range was 1.0 to 2.4 mg/m3
Fox News: Published 4 days ago
Man’s radioactive remains spread radiation all over cremation chamber.
The researchers found a maximum Geiger-counter reading of 25,000 counts per minute on the crematory equipment. That translates to an exposure of 7.5 millirem per hour for someone in direct contact with the equipment — much more than is considered safe
Radioactive Material Transferred by Cancer Patient’s Body Contaminated an Arizona Crematorium
Researchers also found traces of a different radioactive isotope, likely linked with a separate cremation, in a worker’s urine
Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/radioactive-material-transferred-cancer-patients-body-contaminated-arizona-crematorium-180971580/#KdwatwjXgmoKMt5r.99
They are concerned about what they see as a potential health risk to the living — mercury being released into the atmosphere from dental fillings of the cremated.
Cremation a hazard to the living?
The fact that this permit was approved is surprising because there is strong scientific evidence that crematoriums produce dangerous pollutants which are linked with serious health problems, especially for children. These pollutants include mercury, dioxins, dibenzofurans, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and hydrogen chloride.
Hidden hazards of cremation
Why Crematories Are A Danger To The Surrounding Environment
With more Americans choosing cremation, and an increasing number of patients getting treated with pharmaceuticals that contain radiation, more attention to the issue is needed, one of the research letter’s authors from the Mayo Clinic in Arizona told The Arizona Republic.
“Regardless, it’s best to assume the worst. …”
Why Is Burying Ashes So Bad for the Environment?
Calcified compounds within cremains can contain metals such as lead, boron, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, copper, tin, lithium, magnesium, manganese, nicket and strontium. Metals such as aresenic and selenium, though present in a live human body, are volatile and decompose quickly upon burning. Levels of toxic metals in cremains are not regulated although all non-combustible materials must be removed from the corpse. Pacemakers must be removed as they explode and will damage the furnace. Dental metal fragments must be removed. The body is burned within the coffin or a cardboard box. Any bone fragments left after they cool are ground in a separate process and added to the ash. Fumes produced are computer controlled. The flue gases are vented to the atmosphere through a refractory-lined flue. The gases are at a very high temperature and are cooled. However, gaseous emissions are by far the greatest source of cremation pollution.
… emissions include carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide, hydrogen chloride gas, hydrogen fluoride, mercury vapour . Organic compounds such as benzenes, furans, acetone are also emitted and these react with the hydrogen chloride and hydrogen fluoride under combustion conditions to form polychlorinated dibenzodioxins (PCDDs) and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs) both of which are carcinogens. A study by the Cremation Association of North America has found that filtering crematorium fumes has little effect on the toxins released. However, when compared to yearly toxin release world wide, crematoriums contribute only a very small fraction of harmful compounds or greenhouse gases.
Toxic emissions from crematories
Radioactive cremation! Cancer patient’s radioactive remains spread radiation all over the cremation chamber. By Strange Sounds – Feb 27, 2019
Surge in Obesity Sparks Crematorium Blazes
The potential dangers of medical devices with current cremation practices