Bloomberg Law
May 15, 2020, 10:00 AM

Round-the-Clock Cremations Stoke Mercury Fears for Neighborhoods

Stephen Lee
Stephen Lee

With around-the-clock cremations now allowed in some parts of the country to handle the coronavirus’ death toll, a different kind of toll is threatening the living in the low-income communities where those facilities are often clustered.

The increased pace of cremations is likely to increase releases of chemicals from crematory smokestacks, especially mercury, a toxin that can harm the nervous, digestive, and immune systems and can even be fatal. Cremations were responsible for 5.5% of the nation’s mercury emissions in 2017, according to the EPA—mostly from dental fillings, which are vaporized but not consumed during the 1,800-degree cremation process.

Crematories ...

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