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TOPIC: environmental impact of cremation

environmental impact of cremation 22 Aug 2010 04:56 #373

During a recent forum at the School of Medicine at Florida State University concerning options after death the subject of the environmental impact of cremation was raised. Does anyone know for example how much fuel is used in a cremation? I assume this is normally in terms of natural gas. A second question arose in regard to the amount of atmospheric mercury is emitted. Also, thought not brought up there I am curious as to whether funeral directors remove tooth fillings before cremation or is this only as directed by the estate of the deceased? How about the gold fillings? Are these delivered to the relatives as part of the ash or are removed before cremation and sold with proceeds to the estate?
Are crematoriums required to control emissions from the incineration?

As you can see from my questions I am pretty ignorant on such issues.
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Re:environmental impact of cremation 22 Aug 2010 13:00 #374

I'll take a stab at some of this but I certainly can't take it all on.
The amount of fuel has been claimed to be "about" as much as to heat an average home for a month. I don't know if that is true and the operators do contest that. So the truth may be somewhere in between. At any rate, it's a lot and is compounded by regulations requiring each body to be cremated separately. I somewhat doubt that really always happens.
I've never heard of a funeral director (or crematory operator) giving back Gold fillings and have often figured this was just a side benefit for them. I had a student dentist tell me about 15 years ago that an average gold crown is only worth 30-40 dollars. However multiply that by how many corpses per month (and multiple crowns) and you could be into some substantial extra income.
Most, but not all are regulated about discharging contaminates (like Mercury) into the air. Someone would need to get with inspectors about how they actually do that or if in fact it doesn't just get released when nobodies watching. (or what does happen to the mercury if in fact they do collect it. BTW; Mercury is usually worth as much as Gold, ounce for ounce.

Families should be offered the return of their property or a reduction of the cremation costs.
Hope this helps some; it's a concern of mine also.
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Re:environmental impact of cremation 25 Aug 2010 22:26 #375

  • tumbleweed
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I can not speak as to the amount of natural gas used in the creamation process. No dental work is removed from the decedent unless specifically authorized by the next of kin or designee. Pacemakers and implanted defibrillators are removed prior to cremation to prevent damage to the retort as they have a tendency to explode. Both are covered under Practice of Cremation Establishments 645-100.10 (b) and (j) of this funeral directors state.
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Re:environmental impact of cremation 30 Nov 2011 18:45 #666

Having personally operated two crematories in Florida, I can tell you we did not remove any mercury fillings or gold teeth or anything like that prior to cremation. For one thing, it is illegal. For another, we don't have any instruments for removing teeth or fillings. At one time, there was a study done in Florida regarding mercury emissions, and it was found to be so small that no regulations were ever enacted. After cremation, there are no teeth left as they degrade due to thextreme heat (about 1800 degrees).

Another misconception is that gold teeth are worth money. Gold teeth are an ALLOY of many other materials than gold, and even the gold is only about 10 carat gold. There is no money to be made from removing gold teeth, as you could not even melt them and make 100% gold jewelry from them. Besides, it is unethical and illegal, and no one I know would ever risk their license for something that is basically worthless. It takes a dental license to remove teeth, in my opinion, even from a remains.

We always told families that wanted us to remove gold teeth to hire a dentist. It always cost them more for the dentist than the recovered material was worth.
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