Community Awareness Network CAN!
Stop the Crematory
Q: What/who is behind CAN!?
A: CAN! Community Awareness Network was started by a group of concerned residents in response to a plan to add a crematory to the local Funeral Home. While our focus locally was on preventing this addition, our scope is set on future challenges that will protect our community and others facing similar challenges across the nation.
Q: What is CAN!’s mission?
A: Our Mission Statement can be easily expressed in the following acrostic: CAN PREPARE. (Community Awareness Network Protecting Real Estate Property and Advocating for Residential Environments.)
Q: Why are you against cremation?
A: We are NOT against cremation. Cremation is a personal choice that none of us want to take away from anyone who wishes to have their remains cremated. We just want the business of cremation to be kept at a safe and reasonable distance from residential areas. Also, we are concerned about the current lack of regulations on emissions and the apparent disregard for the current data which indicates that toxins are released during the process, most of which are completely preventable.
Q: What? You mean there aren’t any regulations on crematory emissions?
A: No, there are no federal regulations on emissions from crematoriums. The EPA had intended to regulate this source, but due to lobbying by the funeral industry, crematories were taken out of the category “solid waste incinerators” and have not been placed in another category to be regulated. It is up to the states to enforce air permit requirements.
Q: Don’t states require an air permit to operate a crematory?
A: No. Many states have no regulations whatsoever on crematory emissions. Some states do require air permits – unfortunately do not require testing for the specific toxins that can be released during cremation.
Q: Toxins? What toxins?
A: Mercury and other heavy metals like Cadmium, Lead, Nickel, as well as known carcinogens Dioxins, Furans, and Hydrogen Chloride – the most toxic of these being Mercury, a neurotoxin which is extremely hazardous to health.
Q: Why is Mercury so dangerous?
A: Mercury affects the body in multiple ways, the most significant being the fact that it disrupts the natural processes that the body must complete in order to detoxify – creating a vicious cycle where more and more toxins are trapped in the body. Mercury itself is particularly difficult to remove from the body – it has an affinity for oxygen receptor sites on a cell that is so strong, the only way to get it out is through chelating. That is often very taxing on the body, and can create a “second exposure” effect – plus the likelihood is that the mercury will attach itself to other cells instead of leaving the body does exist. Most of the time Mercury only abandons a cell when it dies – attaching to a nearby cell, often in the brain. That is why the symptoms of Mercury poisoning resemble so closely neurological disorders such as Autism, Asperger’s, Alzheimer’s, Dementia, and many auto-immune disorders.
Q: Ok, I get it. Mercury is toxic. But surely there is not a lot being released from a crematory – right?
A: Wrong. There is a significant amount of mercury being released from crematories. See the graph below, where the average number of bodies cremated annually by one crematory unit is 400, the average in grams of Mercury per cremation is ❤ grams, the estimated annual release of Mercury per crematory is 1200 grams, and the “maximum safe exposure level” is <25 grams over one year. Please note that EPA has emphasized that ANY exposure to Mercury is harmful, and should be avoided and impact on the environment should and must be mitigated.
Q: So what can be done to prevent this Mercury from being released by crematories?
A: Mercury released from the cremation process is completely preventable. Mercury in crematories comes from dental amalgam, a mix of metal alloys containing upwards of 50% Mercury. Amalgam fillings can be removed before cremations, as well as the other sources of pollutants which come from non-organic implants for cosmetic or medical purposes. There is also equipment available (wet scrubbers, filters) that remove other toxins before they are emitted.
Q: Why hasn’t the funeral industry required these crematory operations to employ such mediation practices?
A: Funeral directors are reticent to remove teeth before cremation. If they did remove the fillings, they would be required to treat the amalgams as “biohazard waste.” The reason for not installing the filters and scrubbers is most often cited as the cost associated with such equipment. Anything that makes their business less profitable, or requires the admission of the nature of toxic emissions, or causes them to have to do extra work is undesirable to the industry.
Q: Didn’t they stop using mercury in dental amalgams?
A: Not completely – though many dentists are aware of the health risks of amalgams, and most offer the option of fillings that do not contain alloys. Amalgam fillings are by far cheaper and last longer, because of the propensity for Mercury to cling to whatever it touches. The population group that has the greatest number of amalgam fillings is by far the “Baby-Boomers” generation, many of whom will be among the majority of future cremations.
Q: Okay, I understand there are issues with emissions for crematories. Why haven’t there been laws put in place to safeguard residential areas and other dense population centers or sensitive environments from exposure to these toxins?
A: Largely the lawmakers have been slow to realize the seriousness of this issue, because the EPA has long considered crematory emissions to be minimal, basing that position on the data from one single crematory in 1999. EPA has based the decision not to regulate under the Clean Air Act because of Lobbying efforts and special interest groups who pressured EPA to declassify crematories as solid waste incinerators. Undertakers, morticians, funeral directors … whatever names the death-care professionals choose … are without exception politically connected and have influence in the community. The laws are not there because the industry doesn’t want to be hassled with too many rules, and the average person doesn’t even think about these things until a loved one dies and they experience the “death-care business” firsthand.
Q: What do you mean by “death-care business”
A: The funeral industry is BIG business. The business is highly profitable, guaranteed to grow, and has been traditionally overlooked until the FTC became involved in consumer protection. Other than FTC, no entities are watching what goes on. We should be more concerned, but people don’t like to think about death. So they deal with it when they are faced with covering what is for most people the third largest investment in their life: their funeral. Or if they decide they don’t want to burden their loved ones with the plans, they pre-plan. (most just buy a cemetary plot not realizing that there will be many other expenses) Even cremation, long thought to be the economic choice, has now become an outlet to further expense: 45% of families are sold on the whole “embalming and viewing and service” package. Which makes no sense at all to embalm before cremation – except that they can charge for it. This they do with a sincere, kind mannerism, “Thank you for letting us care for your loved one in death.”
That’ll be $ + $ for the vault + $ for the casket + $ for opening & closing the grave + $ maintenance fees + oh-if-you-want-cremation-you’ll-love-our-selection-of-urns + wouldn’t-it-be-lovely-to-have-a-custom-gemstone-made-from-the-ashes + cha-ching cha-ching cha-ching.
Friend that used to work in a funeral home … said it was funny how cynical they are among themselves … the only time they perk up is when someone dies.
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