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Environmental Best Practices

  1. Be familiar with and follow each federal, state and local environmental requirement that applies when embalming is performed.
  2. 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. When possible, avoid the use of products containing phenol and cresol.
  3. 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 septic tank is periodically pumped, no less often than every three years.
  4. 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 the funeral homes produces 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.
  5. 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.

Funeral directors are trained to protect the health and safety of the public, the environment in the community in which they live and work, and their families and themselves. Best practices, like these recommended by NFDA, are designed to help our funeral directors meet the high standards of the funeral profession.