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Thursday, February 28, 2019

Here's why you shouldn't cremate radioactive people

I've just come across an article that discusses the fact that traces of radioactive material have been found in the staff working in crematoriums. The author of the article says this is caused by the cremation of persons who passed away from cancer and who had had radioactive treatment shortly before their deaths. Given the growing popularity of cremation over traditional burial, the article suggests that cremation of "radioactive" deceased persons will cause a greater and greater risk to the health of funeral industry workers.

Something I wonder about but didn't see in the article was whether there is any potential issue of contamination to the public if the crematorium vents its work areas to the open air. I don't know enough of the science to know what level of material would pose a threat. Click here to read the article.

The article is American and I haven't heard anything about this so far in Canada. I wonder, though, whether in the future this will mean that recently-treated cancer patients will be denied their wish to be cremated, or whether there would be a process that requires a waiting period before a cancer patient could be cremated.

If a patient in this position had included instructions in his or her will about cremation, this might leave the family wondering what to do. Legally, the executor named in a will does not have to follow any instructions in the will regarding funeral or cremation.

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