Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Environmental Conditions Equal at Black & White Graveyards

AAEA's preliminary environmental assessment shows that air, water, land and toxics issues are equal for occupants at graveyards in black and white communities. Every American city has black and white communities and corresponding graveyards. Not only were no disproportionate negative environmental impacts found between graveyards but no disproportionate consequences for interment representatives were found between individual black and white graves. There were esthetic landscaping and stone designation size differences but those variables are irrelevant. Although there are different cultural and religious beliefs about the status or destination of the designated populations of the study, there is no dispute about the ultimate 'return to dirt' conditions of occupants. Embalming has no roots in Christian religion and is common only in the U.S. and Canada. Embalming is considered a desecration of the body by orthodox Jewish and Muslim religions.

It does not matter whether steel vault, pine box or cloth enclosure is utilized for interment; our analysis found no discernible qualitative preservation difference. We found no significant groundwater contamination from embalming fluid preservatives between either community sites. Embalming chemicals are highly toxic and embalming fluid is a compound of formaldehyde, methanol, ethanol and other solvents. The percentage of formaldehyde in embalming fluid ranges from 5 to 29 percent and the ethanol content ranges from 9 to 56 percent. Effects from exposure to embalming fluid include: bronchitis, body tissue destruction, brain damage, lung damage, impaired coordination, and inflammation and sores in the throat, nose, and esophagus. It is extremely carcinogenic. Our study did not examine recycling the fluid. We also did not study the percentage differences of chemicals in the fluids used for whites compared to blacks. We concluded that it made no difference.

Embalming is rarely required by law. The Federal Trade Commission requires that funeral directors inform consumers that embalming is not required except in certain special cases. Embalming provides no public health benefit, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Embalmers are required by OSHA to wear a respirator and full-body covering while embalming. Funeral home effluent, however, is not regulated, and waste is flushed into the common sewer system or septic tank. Embalming increases the price of burial by as much as $3,000 or more and could present some disproportionate financial impact along racial lines, but that is a consumer choice. Contributing Source: Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross inQuestions and Answers on Death and Dying

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