Concerns: Embalming and Cemetery Pollution

Americans are concerned that embalming and cemetery burial contribute to pollution.

Here are some embalming/cemetery burial facts:

  • 22,500 Cemeteries across the USA practice contemporary burial and are NOT environmentally sustainable.
  • 827,060 Gallons of embalming fluid used each year. (Enough to fill 8 Olympic sized swimming pools).
  • 5 to 29% - Formaldehyde content in embalming fluid.
  • 9 to 56% - Ethanol content in embalming fluid.
  • 104,272 Tons of steel used each year for caskets and vaults.
  • 2,700 Tons of copper & bronze used each year.
  • 30 Million+ feet of hardwoods used each year to make caskets.
  • 60 Million trees cut down each year to make caskets.
  • 1.6 Million tons of reinforced concrete in the construction of burial vaults. Enough concrete to build a two-lane highway from New York to Detroit.
  • Enough concrete to build 13,573 American houses.

What makes embalming so toxic?

  • 9 to 56%. Ethanol content.
  • These chemical additives discourage the conversion of materials and there is no benefit other than the preservation of remains far longer than necessary. 
  • The World Health Organization classifies formaldehyde as a carcinogen, In addition, Casket manufacturers are listed on the EPA’s top 50 hazardous waste generators list due to chemicals such as methyl and xylene used in the protective finish sprayed on the caskets exterior (a casket that will be buried or burned).

Green Embalming

Contemporary cemeteries and funeral homes are adopting green practices. Many traditional cemeteries are now sectioning off portions of their land for green burials. Additionally, many mortuary chemical companies like Dogde (making formaldehyde-free arterial fluid) and Champion (making Enigma - their line of non-toxic products) are beginning to make safe, environmentally friendly products.

Please share your thoughts about embalming and cemetery pollution: Will you choose embalming for yourself? Why or why not?
Should Americans reduce the use of chemicals in death care?