Environmental issues with embalming
The embalming process involves removing the body fluids and replacing them with a solution of formaldehyde, often containing a pink dye. The body fluids are treated and disposed of via the public sewer. The embalming fluid normally consists of a 2% solution of formaldehyde, an irritant volatile acid. Approximately one pint of embalming fluid per stone weight of the body, plus one pint, is used. Consequently, one to two gallons of embalming fluid can be used, and the effect of this on soil, soil organisms and air quality following burial or cremation needs further independent research. Our ignorance of the consequences of using this chemical is a cause for concern. In particular, funeral directors and embalmers who carry no responsibility for its impact on the cemetery, crematorium or community use the chemical.
In some burial schemes, such as woodland burial, all chemicals may be prohibited. The restriction may apply to embalming fluid as well as to horticultural chemicals. It has also been suggested that a “green” embalming fluid is available, however no confirmation of this has been obtained to date.