Dear President Obama and Esteemed Members of Congress,
As a mother to an autistic child and a constituent, I’m asking you to tell the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate emissions of mercury and dioxins from crematoriums in the United States. Crematories are currently unregulated, not because the EPA considers them safe, or even because they are low polluters – but because of semantics. The human body is not considered solid waste, so crematories were removed from the “Other Solid Waste Incinerators” category under which the EPA planned to regulate them. This has led to crematories being allowed to locate very near to homes, schools, and businesses, putting many like myself in the position of having to oppose a crematory installation.
• In 2010 a local funeral director in Tucker, GA wanted to add a crematory to his funeral home near my residence. At first I wasn’t alarmed, but began to research the toxins being emitted because I know that an ongoing uncontrolled source of pollution near my son could worsen his autism.
• The effort to stop this crematory took four months of research and a massive effort to organize the community, and educate government officials about why this was an inappropriate land use. We were successful where many others have failed.
• It was decided to make the research done during our protest available to other communities faced with the same issues. Since 2010 I have been contacted by over sixty community groups in thirty-six states. We have formed a national grassroots organization – Community Awareness Network.
• Crematories emit toxins and impact the health of workers and residents, especially children. A crematory can have a negative impact on property values of homes and businesses nearby.
The funeral industry earns over twenty billion dollars a year. The leaders in the industry are well aware that they have a problem with the emissions, but until Congress and the EPA step in and force them to change their operation, communities like mine and hundreds more will find themselves fighting neighborhood installations of crematories, whether stand-alone or as accessory to a funeral home. We are not against cremation, but we are against the idea that this industry is allowed to pollute with no controls whatever. Filters do exist which can drastically reduce emissions, but because they are not required by law, there are no crematories in the United States that use filters. By contrast, in England and Europe they are requiring all crematories to have filters. The leading American manufacturer of crematory equipment also makes the filters required in Europe.
Please make the health of our children a higher priority for our nation by demanding that the EPA regulate crematory emissions of mercury, dioxins, and other hazardous pollutants. Until the EPA steps in to regulate these things, communities like ours will be faced with the daunting task of trying to prevent or stop a crematory and may win or lose depending on the political environment and not always in the best interest of the community.
Please see https://no2crematory.wordpress.com for more information.
Founder, Community Awareness Network