BC families should have the right to choose 'aquamation' - a greener option!!
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When faced with the death of a loved one, families in British Columbia can only choose between burial and fire cremation. There is another alternative, already offered in the provinces of Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec, called 'aquamation' (the scientific name is alkaline hydrolysis).
Since 2012, several funeral directors and supporters have been meeting with Consumer Protection BC as they regulate the cemetery and funeral services in the province, known as the Cremation, Interment and Funeral Services Act. Presentations were made, meetings were held, information was submitted and 8 years later, we are still waiting for our province to finally approve this alternative to burial and fire cremation.
What is Aquamation (alkaline hydrolysis)? You may have heard it referred to as water cremation, bio-cremation, green cremation to name a few.
Alkaline hydrolysis (AH) is an alternative to flame-based cremation and burial. The process uses heat and a solution of 95% water and 5% alkali (Potassium Hydroxide) to reduce all organic material, leaving only the skeletal remains.
Alkaline hydrolysis has been used for over 24 years for the sterilization and disposition of animal mortalities at universities, research facilities, and pharmaceutical and bio-containment laboratories.
Human bodies donated to medical science have been processed by Alkaline Hydrolysis in renowned research institutions:
- Shands Hospital at the University of Florida - 1995 as part of their willed body program
- Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota - 2006 for their donated body program
- UCLA in Los Angeles California – 2012 for donated body program
How does it work?
To begin the process for human disposition, the deceased is placed into a stainless steel vessel to which an alkali solution is added. The process works by slowly circulating a heated solution of 95% water and 5% alkali around the body for an extended period of time. Alkaline hydrolysis is a proven sterilization technology in which all pathogens are destroyed, as well as all chemotherapy and embalming agents (if present in the body). Any mercury in the amalgam of the teeth (from dental fillings) is not vaporized through this process like it is with flame cremation. These dental fillings remain unaltered and are safely recycled to prevent release to the environment.
All that remains at the end of the process are the final bone remains and any medical implants. The medical implants are clean and ready for recycling. Just as with flame-cremation, the final bone remains are processed into a fine powdered ash for return to the family in an urn.
- A recent published, peer-reviewed study concluded that alkaline hydrolysis had the least environmental impact of current funeral technologies by a large margin. (1)
- There are no direct emissions of harmful greenhouse gasses from this process. (1,2)
- The process offers up to 90% energy savings when compared to flame-based cremation. (1,2)
- The carbon footprint is significantly less than the carbon footprint of traditional flame cremation or burial. (1,2)
- Alkaline hydrolysis is the preferred method of sterilization for pathogenic biological waste.
Watch the video below to help understand this process even more.
1. Keijzer, Elisabeth. “The Environmental Impact of Activities after Life: Life Cycle Assessment of Funerals.” The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, vol. 22, no. 5, 2017, pp. 715–730.
2. Olson, Philip R. “Flush and Bone.” Science, Technology &Amp; Human Values, vol. 39, no. 5, 2014, pp. 666–693.
This petition is not so much for the 'greener' aspects of aquamation, but more so that families in BC should have additional options when faced with the death of a loved one.
If you agree that you deserve the right to choose aquamation over fire cremation or burial, SIGN THIS PETITION! We will hand-deliver all the signatures!
If you'd like to send a personal note of support for aquamation to Hon Mike Farnworth, please email your comments to: mike.farnworth.MLA@leg.bc.ca
If you'd like to call Hon. Mike Farnworth to express your support, you can call his office at: (250) 356-2178 or (604) 927-2088
BC families count - make your choice heard!
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