Summary of Successful Crematory Opposition
Thursday, 21 November 2013 15:14
For centuries cremation has been an affordable way to bury the disceased. In the process of cremation, furnaces generate heat of 1600 to 1800 degrees Farenheit, which is enough to reduce flesh and bones to it’s basic chemical compounds, ash and vapor. However when a body that has mercury fillings is cremated how safe can the emissions from this process be?
This article was inspired by Mary White, a resident of North Haven, Connecticut for 24 years, who had the courage to stand up and prevent a change in zoning laws that would have permitted crematoriums to be built in light industrial and industrial zones throughout North Haven, placing them close to residential neighborhoods where emissions from the cremations would have more easily made it to the population. Please take the time to read this article for both inspiration as well as direction on how you can stand against the powers that be and make a positive difference for your community.
This information was sent to us by Mary White who provided all the documents detailing what she presented to her local Planning and Zoning Commission. Below, are the attachments of her original work to help make it easier for people who are attempting to protect their own neighborhoods
Summary of Successful Crematory Opposition in North Haven, CT
It is most important to be informed about the goings-on in your town or city. Never trust that members of boards and commissions will be able to stop something that is not right! Planning and Zoning Commission members cannot just arbitrarily deny an application. They must have grounds or justification. It is up to the people to help a Planning and Zoning Commission come to the appropriate decision. Always track what applications are on the Planning and Zoning Commissions Agenda. Get involved! Don’t assume someone else will do it!
The minute I learned that there was a Planning and Zoning application to change the regulations to allow crematories as a permitted use in the Town of North Haven Connecticut’s Light Industrial Zones (IL) and Industrial Zones (IG), I decided to fight it with a two-pronged approach. The first step was, to do as much research as possible to counter the applicant’s position that crematories are safe and present that research in an informative and interesting way to the Planning and Zoning Commission. The second step was to contact the public about the proposed regulation change via an informational flyer placed on mailbox flags, by going door-to-door with a petition against the regulation change for people to sign and by speaking with people about the importance of their attendance at the upcoming Planning and Zoning Commission Meeting.
Relative to the specifics of contacting the public, I made the informational flyer and petition, went to Staples, made and paid for copies. I contacted 4 other residents whom I felt would help distribute flyers and who would ring doorbells and speak to people. (Taking the time to speak to people was one of the keys to our successful petition – 246 signatures and meeting attendance over 75!) I thought it was important to have a small, mighty, and responsible group. We were organized and efficient, with me being the one who made sure no streets were duplicated. All signed petitions were copied, and the originals were brought to the meeting, where totals were noted and then all petitions were stapled together (we brought a stapler), ready to be submitted to the Planning and Zoning Commission at the right time.
Relative to doing and presenting research, I utilized the Community Awareness Network. I found and printed several studies which I then copied, and highlighted for every member of the Planning and Zoning Commission. I also went on the website, epa.gov. Although EPA does not monitor or regulate crematory stack emissions, they have much to say about mercury and methylmercury. I made phone calls to the CT Department of Public Health about crematory emission inspections, (No such inspections occur!) and to an EPA toxicologist, who informed me about how all people have different thresholds of chemical and toxin tolerance. I typed my speech which included summaries of the studies and factual information about how chronic exposure to low-levels of mercury and other toxins are hazardous to humans. I noted all the sources for my research.
To quote from the speech, “The question to be asked is not if people will get sick from chronic exposure to low-levels of mercury vapor and other toxins, but when will people get sick?” I also made numerous charts, which I then had enlarged to 20″ x 30″ sheets so as to present visuals to the Planning and Zoning Commission. Also, I thought it was important to include a chart of the map of the Town of North Haven with all the potential crematory locations shaded. This way, the members of the Planning and Zoning Commission were able to see for themselves that the maximum number of crematories that could open up in the Town of North Haven should this regulation change pass, would be 50! I also made it a point to state more than once, that once crematories are a permitted use in the Planning and Zoning Regulations, it is next to impossible to stop crematories from opening up.
My thought process for getting the Planning and Zoning Commission to deny the proposed change to the Town of North Haven’s Zoning Regulations to allow crematories in Light Industrial (IL) and IndustrialZones (IG) was to put doubt in the minds of the commission members about the safety of crematory stack emissions, by presenting the research and studies. (The placing of doubt was the second key to our success.) Also, I wanted to present the petition with the 246 signatures to the Planning and Zoning Commission at the end of the public portion of the meeting in order to create a bookend effect. I opened the public comment portion of the meeting with the research and charts, and I had another speaker close the public comment portion of the meeting with the presentation of the petition. That last speaker read into the record what was printed on the petition. The paragraph read was in essence a summary of what I had already presented earlier. This way the last thing the Planning and Zoning Commission heard was a summary about how chronic exposure to low-level emissions from crematory stacks causes damage to major organs and the signs and symptoms. Again, they heard, “Chronic exposure via inhalation by humans living in close proximity to a crematory, according to the EPA, causes ‘serious health impacts from low-level exposure to mercury.'” The final word given to the members of the Planningand Zoning Commission was, the will of the people (the voters): the people did not want the Town of North Haven’s Zoning Regulations to be changed to permit crematories in town. (The third key to our success was the presentation of the 246 signature petition to the Planning and Zoning Commission.)
During the Planning and Zoning Meeting, the applicant was given the opportunity to respond to what the public had said after the public comment portion of the meeting had ended. Ron Salvatore from Matthews International out of Pittsburgh attempted to discredit my research by saying that some of the studies were not applicable because the studies were not done in the United States and that the mercury dental amalgam is higher in other countries. He also stated that there are many larger sources of mercury. He stated that with the new retorts and crematory technology, 99.97% of emissions from the stacks are stopped. Ron then stated that crematories are not the source of emissions! He also stated that EPA was not an accurate source of some of my research.
(This is false, because crematory equipment in the US actually filters zero mercury! Standard afterburners only control: smoke, ash, particulate matter (PM), carbon dioxide and visible emissions, and even these they do not control 99.97%) – note from CAN
Fortunately for us, the Planning and Zoning Commission members had listened to everything that I had presented and expressed concern about mercury’s bioaccumulation capacity. Remembering the research I had stated about all people have different threshold levels of tolerance for mercury and other toxins, the chairman asked Ron Salvatore, “What are the safe levels of mercury?” The Chairman was concerned about the .03% of emissions coming out of the crematory stacks. Ron of course did not have an answer because there is no “safe” level of mercury exposure for everyone.
In the end, during deliberations, the North Haven Connecticut Planning and Zoning Commission voted 5-0 against changing the regulations to allow crematories as a permitted use in the Light Industrial Zones (IL) and Industrial Zones (IG).
They cited, “We’re not sure whose right about the science of it.” The chairman stated that he and the other commissioners believed there was no reason they should allow a “potential problem” into town. It was quite clear the community was not in favor of this.
This is the Flyer and Petition used to alert everyone in town, or as many as possible, to the meeting of the North Haven P&Z Commission and gather signatures of petitioners. We’ve formatted this to fit a webpage and removed the lines for names and signatures, but feel free to copy and edit for your group if you need a complete template.
We need YOU to please come to the next
of The North Haven Planning & Zoning Commission
Monday, July 11, 2011
Recreation Center, Linsley Street North Haven
It is very important MANY PEOPLE attend this meeting so we can tell the P&Z members that we are against the proposed change to the zoning regulations to allow CREMATORIES in the Town of North Haven’s Light Industrial and Industrial Zones! CREMATORIES are a public health and safety hazard!
Attorney Bernie Pellegrino represents the applicant Mr. Brian Havens of North Haven Funeral Home and Mr. Peter Scott VP & General Counsel for Wilbert’s parent company Charter Crematory. Wilbert Vault Company of Connecticut is located on 222 Universal Drive and a second company, Doric Vault of Connecticut is located on 200 Elm Street. They want to expand the vault company to include a CREMATORY which is NOT a permitted use in the Light Industrial and in the Industrial Zones in North Haven. They would not go on the record as to WHERE the location of the CREMATORY would be.
Last month at the June P&Z meeting, Mr. Peter Scott told the P&Z that “Nothing comes out of the stacks. Neighbors won’t see anything, smell anything, and won’t even know a crematory is there except for the hearses driving up!”
Research tells a different story! Per the Crematory Association of North America, the average number of bodies cremated annually per CREMATORY is 400. Per the EPA, the maximum “safe” exposure level of mercury vapor for humans over one year < 25g. The average estimated release of mercury vapor per cremated body with the dental implants is 3g. Mercury vapor is toxic to humans; it is colorless and odorless.
This means that only 8 people with dental implants can be cremated a year in order for the neighbors who live in close proximity of the CREMATORY to be "safe!" According to Attorney Pellegrino, 50% of people in Connecticut choose cremation! You do the math! Since we breathe AIR, this concerns all of us!
In January 2010, Lisa P. Jackson of the US EPA, in response to a letter from the US Congress written by Dennis Kucinich, wrote there are serious health impacts from low-level exposure to mercury vapor. According to OSHA's Guidelines for Mercury Vapor, the effects on humans from chronic exposure via inhalation are: brain damage, central& peripheral nervous system damage, kidney and lung damage, eye damage, body tremors, edemas, rashes, depression, insomnia, gastrointestinal disturbance, & memory loss.
to stop the proposed change to the
Town of North Haven Zoning Regulations
We, the undersigned, are residents, in surrounding towns of North Haven, Connecticut.
We strongly object to the proposed change to the Town of North Haven Zoning regulations to allow CREMATORIES as a permitted use in (IL) Light Industrial Zones and in (IG) Industrial Zones. This change to the regulations would mean that CREMATORIES are a permitted use and therefore the change would allow unlimited numbers of CREMATORIES in the Town of North Haven. Most importantly, however, CREMATORIES are a public health and safety hazard especially to those people living in close proximity. The stacks (approx. 10ft to 19ft) of CREMATORIES emit toxins including: polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs) and of particular concern is mercury in vapor form. Chronic exposure via inhaling by humans living in close proximity to a CREMATORY, according to the EPA causes "…serious health impacts from low-level exposure to mercury." According to OSHA's Guidelines for Mercury Vapor, those health impacts are: damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems, damage to lungs, kidneys, skin, eyes, immune system, and brain damage because methylmercury crosses the blood brain barrier. Signs and symptoms of chronic exposure to low levels of mercury vapor include: weakness, fatigue, fever, gastrointestinal disturbance, tremors in fingers, lips, eyelids, and eventually the entire body, memory loss, insomnia, depression, behavioral and personality changes, rashes, severe salivation, generalized edema and gingivitis (Hathaway et al. 1991; Gosselin 1984). Per the EPA, the maximum "safe" exposure level of mercury vapor for humans over one year <25g. The average estimated release of mercury vapor per cremated body with dental implants is 3g. This means only 8 people with the dental implants can be cremated a year in order for neighbors to be "safe." There's an annual average of 400 cremations per crematory per the Crematory Assoc. of North America. Exposure would far exceed the safety level.
We ask the Town of North Haven Planning and Zoning Commission to protect all people from a public health and safety hazard by denying the proposed change to the Town of North Haven's zoning regulations to allow CREMATORIES in the IL and IG zones.
After distributing flyers and getting everyones attention, and going door to door with the petition, the next step was the actual confrontation. This is the speech given at the North Haven P&Z board meeting. All the referenced visual aids can be found below this segment and are downloadable. I would think that a speech, with all of the visual aids that accompany it, would make showing the commission how bad the toxic fumes are from these crematoriums easy.
July 11, 2011
North Haven Planning & Zoning Meeting
I've been a resident in the Town of North Haven for 22 years. I am against the proposed change to the P&Z regulations to permit crematories as a permitted use in the IL and IG zones.
I will provide evidence to the Commission that crematories are a public health and safety hazard to: unborn fetuses, children, and people living in close proximity of acrematory, or who are working near a crematory. I will provide facts, statistics, studies and my sources of such. I acknowledge that crematories are not the only source of toxin and mercury vapor emissions into the atmosphere; however, for the purposes of this meeting and discussion, the focus is on crematory emissions.
First, I would like to start by mentioning we have a Petition to submit to the commission later. The Petition has approximately 246 signatures. Thank you.
During last month's meeting, the commission was told regarding emissions from the crematory, "People won't see anything, smell anything, hear anything, nothing comes out of the stacks, and it's safe. People won't know it's there except for the hearses driving up."
I agree with the part "People won't see anything or smell anything, but that's about it. My research tells a different story.
DISTRIBUTE DATA CHART & REVIEW: "TOXINS EMITTED FROM CREMATORY STACKS" (1)
The gentleman left out some of the toxins that are emitted from crematory stacks.
Nitrogen Oxide (NOx), Carbon Monoxide (CO), Sulfur Dioxide (SO2), Particulate Matter (PM) are combustion gases. Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs) and heavy metals – Mercury (Hg) are toxic and have the capacity for bioaccumulation (more on that a little later) which means risks to human health. We will learn what those risks are later. PCDD/Fs were listed by the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants of 2001 as one of the "dirty dozen" pollutants whose levels should be significantly reduced. By the way, these toxins are colorless and odorless.
According to Queensland Australia's website: qld.gov.au, Nitrogen Oxide and Sulfur Dioxide can be transported over long distances. We will learn more about deposition later. When SO2 combines with water, it becomes sulfuric acid which is the main component of acid rain. NOx contributes to the formation of acid rain. Quick reminder: acid rain is bad; it causes deforestation, acidifies waterways to the detriment of aquatic life. Inhalation of SO2 and NOx irritates the respiratory tract causing chronic bronchitis and asthma.
USEPA concluded human cremations are not solid waste incinerators, and therefore crematory emissions are not monitored and there are no specific recommendations for crematories. USEPA has more to say on mercury later and what the USEPA has to say is different than what you have just heard.
I spoke with Mr. Gary Griffin from the State regarding crematory inspections on June 24, 2011. Gary explained that the CT Department of Public Health conducts surprise yearly inspections of funeral homes and crematories in CT. The part-time employee, a Funeral Director conducts the inspections. (I understand a Funeral Director is qualified to do the inspections, but isn't this a little like the "Police policing the Police?" You know, a Funeral Director inspecting a Funeral Director.) Anyway, during the inspection, he looks for cleanliness, and sanitary conditions. He does a visual inspection of the chambers etc. and looks for cracks or structural damage. He looks to see if the equipment is broken. The Funeral Director inspector does not test what is coming out of the stacks of the crematories.
DISTRIBUTE DATA CHART & REVIEW: "CREMATORY EMISSIONS DATA" (2)
US flow model has cremation as the third largest source of air emissions of mercury. Information found in "Great Lakes Binational Toxic Strategy," John Reindl, Dane County, Wisconsin, December 6, 2005. Worksheet from EPA in 2005 estimated that US emissions from crematoria to be 3,000kg (6,613lbs).
In January 2010, Lisa P. Jackson of the USEPA, in response to a letter from the US Congress written by Dennis Kucinich, wrote that there is evidence of serious health impacts from low-level exposure to mercury vapor. Those impacts will be explained soon.
USEPA initiated talks with Funeral Directors and asked that they remove teeth with dental amalgam prior to cremation. Their response was, "No!" The federal government or the state government cannot force crematory owners/Funeral Directors to buy the very expensive filter that reduces, but not eliminates mercury vapor emissions from crematories.
DISTRIBUTE DATA CHART & REVIEW: UK STUDY: "MERCURY IN CREMATORIA USING ATOMIC FLUORESCENCE SPECTROMETRY"(3)
I found a relevant study called "Mercury in Crematoria Using Atomic Fluorescence Spectrometry," that was done on mercury emissions during 4 separate cremations, in the UK, in September/October 2010. The study was done by, Warren Corns, Matthew Dexter and Peter Stockwell. I'd like to distribute copies and summarize it for the commission.
The study concluded the following:
1. Mercury Emissions from crematoria are almost entirely due to the presence of amalgam fillings in the body.
2. This leads to "significant variation in the concentration of mercury emitted during each cremation."
3. "Mercury is released in a spike about 40 minutes into the cremation, during the heating up process mercury reaches the temperature threshold (more on threshold later), at which it vaporizes."
4. Mercury released during a short period of time (not gradually over time).
5. Mercury Emissions had variance.
The results were charted using ug/m3 = micrograms per cubic meter. I found a standard in that form, of accepted level of mercury of, 200ug/m3 micrograms per cubic meter.
For Mercury Gas Concentration, the results were:
Cremation number one was 25.8ug/m3 micrograms per cubic meter
Cremation number two was 47.5ug/m3 micrograms per cubic meter
Cremation number three was 282.0ug/m3 micrograms per cubic meter
Cremation number four was 1094.5ug/m3 micrograms per cubic meter
It was concluded that the bodies in cremations number one and two had no dental amalgams. The bodies in cremation numbers three and four had dental amalgams, with number four having many dental amalgams. The levels of mercury emitted in cremations three and four, exceed the exposure levels by alarmingly high concentrations.
DISTRIBUTE DATA CHART & REVIEW: "HOW MERCURY ENTERS THE ENVIRONMENT" (4)
Bioaccumulation: Mercury vapor is in the atmosphere after coming out of the crematory stack, it is inhaled by humans, the wind takes it and deposits it on the land including soil on farms and it becomes part of the food chain, and it enters the clouds which have water in them. When, precipitation occurs, there is deposition of mercury in bodies of water. Bacteria in soils and sediments convert the mercury into methylmercury. Aquatic plants and animals eat it. Methylmercury builds up in their bodies. In other words, it biomagnifies in the food web as ever-bigger fish eat smaller ones. Concentrations of methylmercury in fish are generally on the order of a million times the methylmercury concentration in water. This whole process is called bioaccumulation.
Then, there are consumption patterns, and then dose response.
Quoting the USEPA, "The majority of mercury in US waters, particularly in the eastern US, results from air deposition."
Also, according to the USEPA, relative to the deposition of mercury in the country as a whole, US sources represent a greater fraction of the total deposition in parts of the Northeast because of the prevailing winds.
Quoting the USEPA, 2008, "Elemental (metallic) mercury primarily causes health effects when it is breathed as a vapor where it can be absorbed through the lungs."
According to the USEPA, and the MASS DEP, methylmercury stays in red blood cells, crosses the blood brain barrier, enters the brain, crosses into the placenta, and transfers to organs even after ingestion of contaminated foods ends. There will be damage to the kidneys, brain and the developing fetus: impaired motor and cognitive skills and possible increase in autism.
According to ATSDR Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, "Methylmercury and metallic mercury vapors are more harmful than other forms, because more mercury in these forms reaches the brain. Developmental organs are effected, gastrointestinal (digestive), neurological (nervous system), ocular (eyes) and renal (urinary system or kidneys). More mercury in the environment can increase the amounts of methylmercury that small organisms make."
DISTRIBUTE DATA CHART & REVIEW: TEXAS STUDY: "ENVIRONMENTAL MERCURY RELEASE, SPECIAL EDUCATION RATES, AND AUTISM DISORDER: AN ECOLOGICAL STUDY OF TEXAS." (5)
I found a relevant study, called "Environmental mercury release, special education rates, and autism disorder: an ecological study of Texas." This study was done to see if there was an association between environmentally released mercury, special education and autism rates in Texas. It was published in November 2004, at the University of Texas Health Science Center, by: Raymond Palmer, Steven Blanchard, Zachary Stein, David Mandell, and Claudia Miller.
Texas has over 100 crematories. According to CANA (Crematory Association of North America), in Texas, 20.17% of people, choose cremation.
The study used a database that consisted of student demographics, financial, racial, special education enrollment, and urbanicity. The study used data from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) which provided autism counts per school district from school years 2000-2001. Data were from 1184 school districts in 254 counties in Texas. These districts represented approximately 4 million children enrolled in grades K through 12.
The EPA provided the environmentally released mercury data per county. Although we know mercury emissions from crematoria are not monitored by the USEPA, this study is still relevant because, if you recall from earlier, "US flow model has cremation as the third largest source of air emissions of mercury;" Texas has over 100 crematories.
The study found for: Each 1000 lb. of environmentally released mercury, the rate of autism increases by 61%.
Each 1000 lb. of reported mercury release is associated with a 43% increase in the rate of special education students.
"The result of this study demonstrates that school district autism and special education rates are significantly associated with environmentally released mercury. Further, these results indicate that the association between mercury release and school district special education rates was completely accounted for by increased rates of autism."
I have one more study that I like to discuss briefly with you. This study was referred to in the paper written in Spain called "Toxic emissions from crematories: A review," by Montse Mari and Jose Domingo, July 16, 2009. The study is most relevant for these proceedings because the purpose of the study was to investigate to see if there was a connection between mothers living close to both incinerators and crematories in Cumbria, North West England, from 1956-1993 and stillbirth, neonatal death, and lethal congenital anomaly among the babies of these mothers.
I quote from the paper, Dummer et al (2000) "A significantincrease was noted during this period on the risk of stillbirth closer to crematories. The risk of anencephalus (neural tube defect, head doesn't close & major portion of brain is missing) was also significantly increased during the same period. Although most (92%) cases of anencephalus were stillborn, the significantly increased risk of stillbirth remained after the exclusion of anencephalus cases from the analysis. From 1972 onwards there was an increased risk of all other congenital anomalies with increasing proximity to crematoriums, which was significant for the period 1983-1993. The study concluded: there is "an increased risk of stillbirth and anencephalus in relation to proximity to crematoriums." Dummer also concluded, "since crematories are sources of harmful substances, it is worth it to keep investigating their potential effects on public health." The authors of the review paper concluded, "Therefore, we think that crematories must also be among the facilities whose emissions should be specifically regulated and monitored."
DISTRIBUTE DATA CHART & REVIEW: "SERIOUS HEALTH IMPACTS FROM CHRONIC EXPOSURE TO MERCURY VAPOR" (6)
I spoke with Elizabeth Quinn, toxicologist for the EPA in PA on June 24, 2011. She explained that we all have chemicals/toxins in our bodies. In addition, we all have is what is called a "threshold" for our bodies to tolerate toxins before we get sick. When that threshold of chemicals/toxins is reached, we become sick. The question to be asked is not "if people will get sick” from chronic exposure to low-levels of mercury vapor & other toxins, but “when will people get sick?” Some people have high thresholds and therefore may not get sick for 20 or 25 years or at all. Others, in particular fetuses, and children whose neurological systems are still developing, have very low thresholds. Some people’s threshold for toxin exposure before they get sick may be 5, 10, or 15 years. As you can probably tell, when people do get sick, it is not a cold or the flu. The sickness and damage to the body is permanent.
I have questions for the commission: What is your threshold? What is your spouse’s threshold? What are your children’s/grandchildren’s thresholds? What are your parents, friends, & neighbors thresholds?
DISTRIBUTE DATA CHART AND REVIEW: “SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF CHRONIC EXPOSURE TO LOW LEVELS OF MERCURY” (7)
Here are just a few questions to consider about some of these signs and symptoms.
1. When we see someone who has tremors or who shakes, don’t we think, “They must have Parkinson’s?
2. When we see someone who has memory loss, don’t we think, “They must have Alzheimer’s?
3. When we notice someone has personality changes & depression, don’t we think, “They must be bipolar?”
Sometimes, we think the reason why people might have these signs or symptoms is because they are getting older. Now, we have learned that toxins and mercury vapor in the air and the environment, after chronic exposure and ingestion and after thresholds have been reached, cause people to get sick.
DISTRIBUTE DATA CHART & REVIEW: “POSSIBLE CREMATORY NUMBERS & LOCATIONS IN NORTH HAVEN, CT” (8)
(Chart not included: Map of the Town of North Haven with IL & IG zones highlighted.)
It is understood that if the regulation change passes, crematories would be a permitted use in the IL and IG zones in the Town of North Haven. Further, it is understood that this means an unlimited number of crematories could open up in town.
DISTRIBUTE DATA CHART & REVIEW: “PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY HAZARD VS PROFIT” (9)
Another thought for the commission to consider is need. Besides the need for profit, is there a need for crematories in the Town of North Haven? As we heard from Ron Salvatore, Matthews International has 40 units (retorts) in Connecticut. That number does not include any units owned by their competition in Connecticut. There are approximately 30 crematories in the State of Connecticut, with one in New Haven in Evergreen Cemetery. There is also another crematory close by; this one is on First Avenue in West Haven. And another crematory is in Meriden. So, if cremation services are needed by Funeral Homes in North Haven, they can go there.
I have some final thoughts to share with the commission. The people in the Town of North Haven do care about the quality of the air they breathe. I know this because within the past year, the people voted at a town meeting to pass a Town Ordinance that bans outdoor wood-burning furnaces.
My research has provided the commission with evidence that crematories are a public health and safety hazard to fetuses, children and to people living or working in close proximity to crematories, due to the chronic exposure to toxins and low-levels of mercury vapor emitted from the stacks of crematories.
I ask the commission to protect the people of the Town of North Haven and all people from a public health and safety hazard.
Just as a reminder, if the regulations change, crematories will be here for good in North Haven.
Local planning and zoning boards have control in the regulation change phase. After crematories are a permitted use, it is next to impossible to stop crematories from opening up. This is because the state’s DEP which grant Air Emissions Permits, have no USEPA regulations for emissions from crematories. They only have crematory equipment manufacturers’ promises that the emissions are safe.
Here are a few examples of crematory opposition in other states:
1. Keyser, West Virginia Jan. 2011, there is opposition to an application to put a crematory in a commercial area, next to a residential area. (Too late, crematories are a permitted use.)
2. Stone Bank, Wisconsin March 2010, there is opposition to an application to build a crematorium adjacent to the Country Christian School. (Too late, crematories are permitted use.)
3. Spring Hill, Tennessee June 13, 2011, there is opposition (the residents gathered 100 signatures) to an application to build a crematorium behind residential homes. This one is of particular interest because they have a zoning ordinance that prohibits offensive fumes or odors in commercial districts. They are thinking they can fight the crematory with this ordinance. We all now know that emissions from crematories are colorless and odorless. (Again, too late, crematories are a permitted use.)
4. Millersville, Maryland May, 2011, more than 200 residents in opposition to a crematory attended a meeting held by the Maryland DEP which is reviewing an application for an air emissions permit. (Again, too late, it is a permitted use, and once again the USEPA does not regulate the emissions from crematories.)
There are more. But I’ll stop. Now, I would like to give 2 examples of planning & zoning commissions in other states who are in the same position as the North Haven Planning & Zoning Commission, that is, there is an application to change the regulations to allow crematories as a permitted use.
1. Villa Rica, Georgia May, 2011, residents presented a petition with 43 signatures in opposition to a regulation change that would allow crematories in the commercial mixed-use downtown area. The Planning & Zoning Commission voted to delay a decision.
2. Peters Township, PA March, 2011, the Planning & Zoning Commission voted 5-0 against an amendment to a township ordinance that would have permitted crematories.
Now is the time for the Planning & Zoning Commission of North Haven to protect the people from a public health and safety hazard!
I ask the commission to deny the application to change the regulations to allow crematories as a permitted use in the IL and IG zones.
Please remember, just because you can’t see or smell the toxins and mercury vapor, doesn’t mean they are not being emitted from the stacks of crematories into the air.
Thank you for affording me this opportunity to speak with you and please vote to deny this application!
This is the beginning of the Data Charts created for helping visualize the speech above. All the data charts are available at the bottom of the article for downloading as well as on the page itself.
DATA CHART & REVIEW: “TOXINS EMITTED FROM CREMATORY STACKS” (1)
T O X I N S
Emitted from Crematory Stacks
MERCURY VAPOR (Hg)
POLYCHLORINATED DIBENZO-P-DIOXINS & DIBENZOFURANS (PCDD/Fs)
NITROGEN OXIDE (NOx)
CARBON MONOXIDE (CO)
SULFUR DIOXIDE (SO2)
PARTICULATE MATTER (PM)
DATA CHART & REVIEW: “CREMATORY EMISSIONS DATA” (2)
Although the average number of bodies cremated annually is more likely to be higher, for the purposes of this model, we will use 400. (CANA stats)
What the information in the bar graph below means is, only 8 people with dental implants can be cremated a year in order for the neighbors who live in close proximity of the crematory to be “safe!” According to the EPA, the maximum “safe” exposure level of mercury over one year is <25g. Exposure would far exceed the safety level!
Crematory Association of North America (# of cremations per crematory per year)
John Reindl’s Research, (amount of mercury per cadaver, averaged)
US EPA, (“safe” level of mercury exposure over a year. Or, more accurately, the threshold over which the harm from mercury exposure is likely to occur)
DATA CHART & REVIEW: UK STUDY: “MERCURY IN CREMATORIA USING ATOMIC FLUORESCENCE SPECTROMETRY” (3)
Mercury in Crematoria Using Atomic Fluorescence Spectrometry
Authors: Warren T Corns, Matthew A, Dexter and Peter B Stockwell, P S Analytical, UK. Web: http://www.psanalytical.com
The mercury emissions from a crematory have been studied by amalgamation-atomic fluorescence spectroscopy. Mercury is emitted in a short period approximately 40 min into the cremation. The concentration emitted varies significantly but can be as high as several mg m-3. Both elemental and ionic mercury are emitted during the cremation. The ratio of the two forms depends on the total level of mercury being emitted. The PSA Crematorium Hg CEM has been presented, this system is specifically designed to determine mercury in crematorium flue gas for process control or regulatory purposes. The system is designed to operate with minimal user intervention.
DISTRIBUTE DATA CHART & REVIEW: “HOW MERCURY ENTERS THE ENVIRONMENT” (4)
DATA CHART & REVIEW: TEXAS STUDY: “ENVIRONMENTAL MERCURY RELEASE, SPECIAL EDUCATION RATES, AND AUTISM DISORDER: AN ECOLOGICAL STUDY OF TEXAS.” (5)
Environmental mercury release, special education rates, and autism disorder: an ecological study of Texas.
Health Place. 2006 Jun;12(2):203-9
Authors: Palmer RF, Blanchard S, Stein Z, Mandell D, Miller C.
University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio Department of Family and Community Medicine, San Antonio, Texas
The association between environmentally released mercury, special education and autism rates in Texas was investigated using data from the Texas Education Department and the United States Environmental Protection Agency. A Poisson regression analysis adjusted for school district population size, economic and demographic factors was used. There was a significant increase in the rates of special education students and autism rates associated with increases in environmentally released mercury. On average, for each 1,000 lb of environmentally released mercury, there was a 43% increase in the rate of special education services and a 61% increase in the rate of autism. The association between environmentally released mercury and special education rates were fully mediated by increased autism rates. This ecological study suggests the need for further research regarding the association between environmentally released mercury and developmental disorders such as autism. These results have implications for policy planning and cost analysis.
DATA CHART & REVIEW: “SERIOUS HEALTH IMPACTS FROM CHRONIC EXPOSURE TO MERCURY VAPOR” (6)
Serious Health Impacts From Chronic Exposure To Mercury Vapor
DAMAGE TO CENTRAL AND PERIPHERAL NERVOUS SYSTEMS
DAMAGE TO LUNGS
DAMAGE TO KIDNEYS
DAMAGE TO SKIN
DAMAGE TO EYES
DAMAGE TO IMMUNE SYSTEM
DAMAGE TO THE BRAIN (BECAUSE METHYLMERCURY CROSSES THE BLOOD BRAIN BARRIER)
DATA CHART AND REVIEW: “SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF CHRONIC EXPOSURE TO LOW LEVELS OF MERCURY” (7)
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS OF CHRONIC EXPOSURE TO LOW LEVELS OF MERCURY
TREMORS IN FINGERS, LIPS, EYELIDS & EVENTUALLY THE ENTIRE BODY
BEHAVIOR & PERSONALITY CHANGES
RASHES, LESIONS, SKIN PEELING
SEVERE SALIVATION, GINGIVITIS
DATA CHART & REVIEW: “POSSIBLE CREMATORY NUMBERS & LOCATIONS IN NORTH HAVEN, CT” (8)
POSSIBLE CREMATORY NUMBERS & LOCATIONS
North Haven, CT
IF A REGULATION CHANGE PASSES & CREMATORIES ARE A PERMITTED USED IN IL & IG ZONES
10 WHARTON BROOK INDUSTRIAL PARK
5-6 VALLEY SERVICE ROAD (East Side Mainly)
6 LEONARDO DRIVE (Industrial Park)
2-3 CORPORATE DRIVE (Industrial Park)
4-5 POWDER MILL/UNITED DRIVE
10 SACKETT POINT ROAD (Between the railroad lines)
10 UNIVERSAL DRIVE NORTH
50 MAXIMUM NUMBER OF POSSIBLE CREMATORIES
(THIS APPROXIMATE NUMBER TAKES THE 500FT STATE SETBACK OF CREMATORIES FROM RESIDENTIAL ZONES & USES INTO CONSIDERATION)
DATA CHART & REVIEW: “PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY HAZARD VS PROFIT” (9)
THE BOARD NEEDS TO CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING:
PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY
HAZARD VS PROFIT
IS PROFIT MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE PUBLIC’S HEALTH AND SAFETY?
SOURCES FOR CHARTS
1). “Toxins Emitted from Crematory Stacks”
Sources: USEPA United States Environmental Protection Agency
“Toxic Emissions from Crematories: A Review” by Montse Mari, and Jose L. Domingo, Laboratory of Toxicology and Environmental Health, School of Medicine, IISPV, Rovira I Virgili University, Catalonia, Spain, July 16, 2009.
2). “Crematory Emissions Data”
CANA Cremation Association of North America
John Reindl, research presented to US Congress
USEPA United States Environmental Protection Agency
graphic created by Community Awareness Network
3). “Mercury In Crematoria Using Atomic Fluorescence Spectrometry”Source: Authors: Warren T Corns, Matthew A, Dexter and Peter B Stockwell, P S Analytical, UK. Web: http://www.psanalytical.com
4). “How Mercury Enters the Environment”
Source: USEPA United States Environmental Protection Agency
5). “Environmental mercury release, special education rates, and autism disorder: an ecological study of Texas.”
Source: Health Place. 2006 Jun;12(2):203-9
Authors: Palmer RF, Blanchard S, Stein Z, Mandell D, Miller C.
University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio Department of Family and Community Medicine, San Antonio, Texas
6). “Serious Health Impacts from Chronic Exposure to Mercury Vapor”
OSHA Occupational Safety & Health Administration Health Guidelines for Mercury Vapor.
7). “Signs & Symptoms of Chronic Exposure to Low Levels of Mercury”
Community Awareness Network
Hathaway et al. 1991
8). “Possible Crematory Numbers & Locations North Haven, CT”
Source: Town of North Haven, Connecticut
Mercuryexposure.info would like to thank Tia Severino, from Community Awareness Network (CAN!) for her hard work in creating no2crematory.wordpress.com , bringing to light the dangers of emissions from crematoriums. Her site is dedicated to spreading news about toxic emissions which the EPA DOES NOT regulate, and as a result there is another huge industry saturating our environment with mercury vapor and toxic particulate matter.
It should be noted that Mary White found the article “Crematory Emission Data” and used this information as a foundation for all that she did in North Haven. We encourage everyone to use our resources and no2crematory’s resources to keep your cities crematory free. (Even though at the end of the day wind and rain will spread the toxins where-ever the crematorium may be.) Ultimately our goals should be to push the US EPA to regulating cremations, as a large part of the problem could be easily solved by removing restorations and disposing of them properly pre-cremation, thus reducing mercury contamination globaly.
Community Awareness Network (CAN!) is an informal grassroots organization that advocates on the local, state and national levels for change in the way the crematory industry in America is being operated and regulated, educates communities about the real nature of toxins in crematory emissions and what they can do to succeed when faced with the challenge of preventing or stopping a crematory from operating in a residential area or near schools and daycare facilities. CAN! has no dues or fees to join, the only requirement is that your group be willing to organize your community and share your results, research, and resources with the greater CAN! community.