In conventional embalming, blood is drained from a cadaver’s circulatory system and replaced by a formaldehyde based embalming fluid to delay decomposition. Formaldehyde has a GROUP 1 carcinogen status, the highest toxicity level issued to any chemical. Extensive documentation catalogs the risks of serious allergic/asthmatic reactions, allergic sensitization, IgE Immune-mediated hypersensitivity, and allergic contact dermatitis. Formaldehyde is a groundwater contaminant, industrial river and lake effluent, wastewater treatment plant impactor, and a soil deposition/impact chemical. In the average 6-8 ounces of formaldehyde leaked through a casket and concrete vault per grave, formaldehyde’s environmental half-life and pathways of biodegradation are still 50-75 times the maximum health advisory limits for contaminant/soil leachant.
On average two-thirds of the time, embalming prep rooms are exceeding ACGIH and OSHA limits for safe exposure. “Airborne concentrations above 0.1 ppm can cause irritation of the eyes nose and throat. The severity of irritation increases as concentration increases; at 100 ppm it is immediately dangerous to life, health, and explosively high vapor pressure.
Green burial alternatives are worth exploring to avoid these toxins.
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