Crematorium Regulations

Some people choose to keep the cremated remains in an urn.

Cremation is the act of disposing a corpse by fire and is an ancient and increasingly widespread practice. In 2003, around 30 percent of the recently deceased were cremated, compared to just 6 percent in 1975. The Cremation Association of North America estimates that by 2025, half of all the recently deceased will be cremated. The first crematory was built in the United States in 1876. Since then, there have been a number of laws introduced which govern how crematoria are operated.

Funeral Rule

Law does not require corpses to be held in a casket for cremation. To protect the consumer from unscrupulous funeral directors, the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule requires that crematories must offer alternative containers for the deceased to be cremated in.

Clean Air Act

When the Clean Air Act of 1990 was passed, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classified crematories as being a form of medical waste incinerator. Following emissions tests on working crematories in 1999, the EPA opted not to regulate crematories.

Cremator Construction

Cremators are industrial furnaces that can generate temperatures sufficient to fully disintegrate a corpse. United States federal regulations state that newly-built cremators must have dual mechanical and electrical door releases and heat shut-off switches. These must be accessible from the chamber where the corpse is placed.

Furnace Limitations

It is not legal for crematories to put more than one body in a furnace for cremating. Exceptions may be made, such as in the case of a deceased mother and a stillborn child.