How much pollution does cremation create?

A well run crematorium is like any other industrial waste incinerator, there is little pollution created except for carbon dioxide and inorganic ash. Local regulations are in place for pollution control, construction and operation practices.

Most crematoriums have initial combustion areas that reduces large amounts of the protein and fat to carbon dioxide and some pyrolysis gases and some directly volatilized oils and fats. These are collected and passed through a secondary combustion chamber with additional fuel gas and an appropriate amount of combustion air. Energy efficient crematoriums use air preheat systems to reduce the fuel requirements somewhat.

Discharge of the combusted gases is done through a stack of an appropriate height and location to avoid the envelope effect of the crematorium itself and prevent impingement of the gas plume on other nearby buildings. Exit temperature and speed are controlled to provide an adequate loft and dispersion to minimize adverse effects of plume impingement at ground level. In India 78% of the population consign the dead bodies to fire for cremation as a ritual in open air. Traditionally they have been using butter ghee and a few herbs while the body is confined to fire. These are required since the wood-fire temperature does not go beyond 300 C or 600 F but when the butter ghee is added the temperature obtained is upto 700 C or 1400 F, which has been proved now scientifically to be optimum temperature required for cremation of a human body. Just as the low temperature creates pollution, higher temperature is also found to create pollution with emissions dangerously harmful for the environment. By consigning the corpse to fire, these pollutions' risks are reduced and if, in that fire some Ghee and Havan Samagri is added, the practice and experiments have established that there is less of environmental pollution and emission of foul smell because of their disinfecting properties. By adding ghee to the fire, the rise in temperature of the flames results in total destruction of those germs and worms. Paryavaran Sanrakshan Nyas- a non-government voluantary organisation of Chandigarh (India), chose to undertake this task which had escaped the attention of the people in the urbanised cities. In rural areas in villages even today, they use lot of ghee, herbs and cow dung (which is a strong anti-pollution agent when burnt) to arrest this pollution. Besides, the Cremation Grounds in the villages are placed at far-isolated areas, away from the populated localities. In cities, the situation is different. The Cremation Grounds are mostly located in and around the habitated areas affecting seriously the living population. Aware of all these factors and the problem, the four women- M/s. Savita Sethi, Sudesh Gupta, Prem Lata Duggal and Usha Ghai of Chandigarh thought of the issue and decided to fight out this un-noticed pollution being caused in the 'City Beautiful' and create awareness amongst the residents. To carry out the mission they decided to form a Trust and elicit support and co-operation from elite and awakened members of the society. Subsequently a Trust under the name of Paryavaran Sanrakshan Nyas was got registered at Chandigarh with nine Trustees of the Nyas. The Trust believed that besides contributing to this noble social cause of pollution control, a respectful and appropriate adieu could be also given, to the departed soul of those unprivileged people who are not able to bear this bare minimum for the last rites of their beloved ones. The Trustees decided that on every cremation the Trust shall contribute one kg. of pure Ghee and five kgs. of Havan Samagri ( a mixture of organic herbs having ingredients which have anti-pollutant, disinfectant, aromatic, nourishing and nutritive qualities)- a voluntary contribution of 5 kgs. of Havan Samagri mixed in 1 kg. of Desi Ghee on every cremation of any caste, creed or faith at the Chandigarh Crematorium and thus save the City from such threatened possible pollution.