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NFDA Environmental, Health and Safety Studies and Reports

Since the 1990’s, NFDA has taken a leadership role by sponsoring research on the safety, health, and environmental issues affecting funeral service. These studies provide the scientific foundation upon which funeral directors can build to serve their profession and their community as good environmental citizens. To that end, NFDA has engaged respected scientists to assist it gather information and prepare reports of interest to the public. NFDA has long held the view that providing credible and reliable scientific information to regulators and others interested in the practices of funeral homes is the best way to educate and inform.

Each of NFDA’s key environmental, health and safety studies is listed below, followed by a brief summary of the study. Each report is copyrighted and may not be distributed without the written permission of NFDA. Each report may be obtained from NFDA member services. NFDA members may call 800-228-6332 to order a printed copy of the study.


Funeral Home Wastestream Audit Report (1995)
Killam Associates

The Funeral Home Wastestream Audit Report (the Audit) analyzed the volume and chemical composition of embalming wastewater and the impact of its discharge on community treatment works, called publically owned treatment works, POTWs for short. Most funeral homes discharge wastewater from embalming, along with wastewater from other parts of the funeral home, to the POTW.  Funeral home wastewater includes flows from sinks, toilets, laundry, cleaning, showers, and other water-using devices.  The Audit determined that there was little, if any, impact upon local wastewater treatment systems resulting from funeral home wastewater. Until the Audit, there was no information available about the constituents of the wastewater, its volume or the ability of the treatment works to handle the wastewater. The purpose of the Audit was to fill a void in information about the origin, nature, quantity, and fate of funeral home wastewater. The Audit has been widely circulated and has become a valuable tool for both regulators and funeral directors.


Septic Study: Investigation of the Removal of Formaldehyde and Phenol By Funeral Home Septic Systems (2003)
Judy S. Lakind, Ph.D., LaKind Associates, Catonsville, MD and Edward J. Bouwer, Ph.D, The Johns Hoplins University, Baltimore, MD

Although septic systems have been extensively studied, until NFDA’s Septic Study, there was no published study that examined the performance of funeral home septic systems. The Septic Study report, which is contained in a comprehensive white paper and two extensive technical appendices, confirms, through a combination of modeling and field sampling,that septic systems are capable of treating wastewater from funeral homes by biodegradation and other processes at rates that will result in little or no impact to groundwater. The Septic Study confirms that funeral home wastewater can be safely discharged to septic systems throughout the United States. 


Prep Room Ventilation Study: Formaldehyde Vapor Reduction in the Funeral Home Preparation Room: Recommendations for Effective Preparation Room Ventilation (2010)
William B. Ridenhour, PE, Coherent Sciences, LLC, Bowie, MD

The Prep Room Ventilation Study is a groundbreaking report on ventilation in the preparation room. The objective of the study was to identify those features of an effective ventilation system that would remove formaldehyde from the breathing zone of the embalmer. The report is based on NFDA’s year-long study of funeral homes and their ventilation systems, and an evaluation of ventilation engineering practices for the control of formaldehyde. Included with the report is a five-step guide for effective preparation room ventilation.

NFDA members may download this entire report free-of-charge. Hard copies are available to members free-of-charge and at a cost of $70 to nonmember. Call NFDA at 800-228-6332 to order a printed copy of the study.