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Amalgam and crematoria

Sir, I trained at the Royal London Hospital and qualified as an RDSA in the 1980s but for the last five years I have been employed by the funeral profession and I am studying for my Dip FD. I have spent some time at two crematoria to complete one of my modules, the last question of which pertains to improvements I could suggest.

Mercury emissions and combating the damage these do to the atmosphere definitely increases the cost of a cremation financially. The government, following the European guidelines, has requested that crematoria do everything to reduce these emissions by 50% by the end of 2012. Mercury emissions abatement systems have to be fitted into every crematorium at huge cost that would have to be passed onto the clients. I do understand these systems protect the environment from the release of other gases as well as mercury.

More often than not the elderly of today die without teeth. The problem is going to get a lot worse when my generation (born in the 1960s) pass away as we have our teeth and often well filled. A cremation cannot go ahead if the deceased has a pacemaker, radioactive device or an intramedullary nailing system. These have to be removed. Could we not consider removing teeth filled with amalgam during a post mortem or embalming, knowing as we do the damage caused to the environment that leaving them in place would cause? It is a consideration that I think the public should be made aware of and I would value the thoughts of your readers.

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Robinson, L. Amalgam and crematoria. Br Dent J 212, 57 (2012).

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