- Be familiar with and follow each federal, state and local environmental requirement that applies when embalming is performed.
- Periodically re-evaluate the products used in the preparation of the remains and throughout the funeral home. Review and be familiar with the Material Safety Data Sheets for the products used and make every effort to limit the toxicity of chemicals used and the amount of waste produced. Use only the amount of chemicals needed to assure proper embalming. Substitute environmentally friendly products as they become available.
- Assure that any onsite wastewater or septic or other system used for the disposal of embalming and sanitary fluids is properly sized, correctly operated and regularly maintained. Be aware of and immediately investigate and correct any problems discovered, using the services of trained licensed professionals for assistance. If the funeral home has expanded, assure that the capacity of the waste disposal system meets current needs. Make sure that the contents of the septic tank are regularly inspected and periodically pumped-out on a schedule that considers the volume of the wastewater and the capacity of the septic tank. All material removed from the septic tank should be properly disposed of.
- Know the constituents of and the required method of disposal of any and all waste materials and fluids that the funeral home produces. Different requirements govern the handling and disposal of Hazardous Waste, Medical Waste, and other wastes produced in the course of funeral home operation. Be certain that any disposal firms with which you deal are licensed and reputable. Know where the wastes are taken for disposal and the compliance status of the disposal facility. Maintain copies of all waste disposal receipts. Each funeral director bears personal responsibility for the proper disposal of the wastes generated, as required by federal, state, and local law.
- Cosmetics, adhesives, tissue builders, cleaning agents and other products that contain solvents or chlorinated compounds, such as trichloroethylene (“TCE”) and perchloroethylene (“Perc”), should only be used topically – if used at all. These compounds, including gauze or cotton containing such compounds and product residues in empty containers, should never be poured into a drain or sink, added to an embalming tank, tossed into a dumpster, commingled with other wastes, or discharged to the ground. Such wastes may be Hazardous Wastes requiring special handling.
Beginning in 1992, the National Funeral Directors Association conducted an evaluation of wastewater that funeral homes produce in order to fill a void in information about the origin, nature, quantity, and fate of that wastewater. Published in 1995, as NFDA’s “Wastestream Audit”, the information developed has assisted regulators and funeral directors alike in making informed decisions about compliance with environmental requirements. The Environmental Best Practices accompanied the initial publication of the Wastestream Audit and is periodically revised as requirements and practices are updated.