Green Cremation Texas was founded on doing things differently in the funeral industry. From the beginning, we’ve made a commitment to use more environmentally safe practices that actually improve the overall experience for families.
Unfortunately, most funeral homes and crematoriums don’t follow this same philosophy. As a result, some burial and cremation practices have gotten attention for being bad for the environment. One of the worst practices is embalming, and we’re not 100% sure how much of an impact it can have. Allow us to explain why.
Embalming: An Unnecessary and Potentially Dangerous Part of the Funeral Process
There’s a very good reason why Green Cremation Texas doesn’t embalm ever. Because it can be extremely harmful to people’s health as well as the environment, and it’s not necessary at all. That’s right. Embalming is not necessary, even if you want to have a viewing or open-casket memorial service days after a person dies. There are alternative methods of preserving the body that don’t involve toxic fluids.
Now, you may wonder why embalming fluid would be harmful to the environment and people’s health if it goes into a body that’s then buried or cremated. The answer is simple – it doesn’t stay in the body.
We’ve known for some time that when a person who has been embalmed is buried the fluid seeps out. The biggest concern is the formaldehyde in embalming fluid that can seep into the soil where it can then get into groundwater.
But a recent article in the Austin American Statesman highlights another serious potential risk involving embalming fluid and how it’s handled. It was discovered that some local funeral homes were pouring the drained blood of corpses down the sink. While this has been considered a common practice, it’s now being questioned for safety purposes.
When embalming fluid is used it’s mixed with the fluids in the body, including blood. At this point the solution is typically 1.5-3% formaldehyde. Before the burial or cremation the body is “drained” of the fluids. Although the solution should be diluted after mixing with fluids in the body no one knows for sure how much formaldehyde is draining into the wastewater system.
Austin water officials were unaware of this practice of pouring bodily fluids down the drain, but immediately recognized the risk involved. The biggest issue for city officials is that the toxins in the bodily fluids after embalming could affect wastewater entering the Colorado River.
However, Austin water officials aren’t sure of the exact impact this practice could be having. Even worse is the fact that city officials aren’t sure how bad the problem might be because no one has been measuring the levels of toxins in the bodily fluids that are put down the drain. The best estimate is that about half of the embalming fluid that goes in a body comes back out during the drainage process.
Some funeral home directors argue that the practice of draining blood down the sink is safe because the fluids are diluted. They contend that it doesn’t have an impact on the environment, but at the same time permits are needed to dispose of medical waste into local wastewater systems, and no funeral homes in the Austin area had such permits.
Some are also beginning to question why funeral homes are allowed to drain blood down the sink with a permit, but medical facilities must dispose of blood using stricter biowaste disposal practices. The thought is that if we aren’t sure about the safety, then we shouldn’t be doing it.
Regardless of how minimal the toxins are, at Green Cremation Texas our stance is to minimize impact whenever we can. We don’t take an “it might not be so bad” approach because that’s easier and more profitable. We’re here to serve Texas families with eco-friendly funeral services they can feel better about because they know it’s going to have a minimal impact and be safer for everyone.