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The Environmental Impact of Cremation, What You Need to Know

Published: June 19, 2023
by Edline-Yahn & Covington Funeral Chapel
Tacoma, WA cremation services

As people become more aware of the environmental consequences of their actions, there is an increasing interest in understanding the ecological impact of end-of-life choices. One popular option is cremation, which is perceived as a more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional burial. In this article, we'll explore the environmental impact of the cremation process and discuss how Tacoma, WA cremation services are addressing these concerns.

Energy Consumption and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Cremation requires a significant amount of energy, typically from natural gas or propane. The process involves heating the cremation chamber to temperatures of around 1,400 to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit, which consumes a large amount of fuel. As a result, cremation generates greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to climate change. To mitigate the environmental impact, some crematoriums are exploring energy-efficient technologies, such as heat recovery systems that repurpose excess heat for other uses.

Mercury Release from Dental Amalgam Fillings

One of the lesser-known environmental concerns associated with cremation is the release of mercury from dental amalgam fillings. When a body is cremated, the high temperatures cause the mercury in dental fillings to vaporize and be released into the atmosphere. This mercury can then contribute to air, water, and soil pollution. Some crematoriums have installed specialized equipment to capture and filter out mercury emissions, helping to reduce the overall environmental impact.

Air Pollution from Particulate Matter and Other Pollutants

In addition to greenhouse gases and mercury, the cremation process also releases particulate matter and other pollutants into the atmosphere. Particulate matter can have negative effects on both human health and the environment. While modern crematoriums are required to meet strict emissions standards, older facilities may emit higher levels of pollutants. Upgrading to newer, more efficient cremation equipment can help minimize air pollution.

Alternatives to Traditional Cremation

As awareness of the environmental impact of cremation grows, people are seeking greener alternatives. One such option is alkaline hydrolysis, also known as water cremation or aquamation. This process uses a combination of water, heat, and alkaline chemicals to break down the body, leaving only the bones, which are then processed into a powder similar to traditional cremation ashes. Alkaline hydrolysis is considered more environmentally friendly because it uses significantly less energy and produces fewer emissions than traditional cremation.

Another alternative is natural or green burial, which involves placing the body in a biodegradable casket or shroud and burying it in a natural setting without embalming. This option allows the body to decompose naturally and return its nutrients to the earth, minimizing the environmental impact.

Addressing Environmental Concerns

In response to growing concerns about the ecological impact of cremation, Tacoma, WA cremation services are taking steps to minimize their environmental footprint. This may include investing in more energy-efficient equipment, installing mercury abatement systems, and offering eco-friendly alternatives like alkaline hydrolysis.

One local provider, Edline-Yahn & Covington Funeral Chapel, is dedicated to offering environmentally conscious options for families in the Tacoma area. By staying informed about the latest developments in green end-of-life practices and working to minimize the environmental impact of their services, they are helping to create a more sustainable future.

In conclusion, it's essential to understand the environmental impact of cremation and consider the available alternatives when making end-of-life decisions. By choosing environmentally conscious Tacoma, WA cremation services and exploring greener options, we can help reduce the ecological impact of our final disposition and protect the planet for future generations.

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