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Frequently Asked Questions

This page provides answers to frequently asked questions related to codes and regulations, operattions, emissions, and other topics related to crematories.

Local, State & Federal Regulations

Why doesn't the Kitsap County Code Apply on Bainbridge Island?

In 1991 the City of Bainbridge Island and an all-island government was established, incorporating all areas of the island into the City of Bainbridge Island. At that time, the City Code came into effect and the Kitsap County Code was no longer valid on the island.

What Does The Kitsap County Code Require for Crematories?

Kitsap County Code 17.415.105 States:

No mortuary or crematorium in conjunction with a cemetery is permitted within two hundred feet of a lot in a residential zone.

What Are Some Other Examples of Local Codes Regarding Crematories?

In Washington state:

  • 80 cities, towns or counties specifically mention crematoria in respective codes and either prohibit crematoria from residential zones, established setbacks for crematoria from residential zones, or prohibited crematoria from being constructed entirely.
  • 7 cities, towns or counties, including Kitsap County, specifically classify crematoria in related codes as an industrial use or restrict crematoria to industrial zones.
  • Of the cities, towns and counties that do not specifically address crematoria, 22 specifically prohibit funeral homes and mortuaries from residential zones.

A list of Washington State City & County Codes related to crematories, funeral homes and cemeteries can be found here.

A list of a variety of state codes can be found here.

Doesn't Washington State Regulate Where Crematories can be built?

No, Washington State does not regulate where crematories can be constructed and operated. 

Does the Federal Government Regulate Where Crematories can be constructed and operated?

No, the federal government does not regulate where a crematory can be constructed and operated. 

Emissions From Crematories

Aren't Crematories Required To Monitor the Content of Emissions?

Federally, crematoria are exempt from section 129 of the Clean Air Act and are not required to monitor the contents of their emissions. Locally, neither Washington State nor the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency require crematories to monitor the contents of their emissions. 

What is in crematory emissions?

The Environmental Protection Agency states, “The cremation of human remains results in emissions of particulate matter, sulfur dioxides, nitric oxides, volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide, and hazardous air pollutants. It is a significant source of mercury emissions, due to mercury in dental fillings, as well as mercury in blood and tissues.” Source: 2020 National Emissions Inventory Technical Support Document: Miscellaneous Non-Industrial NEC: Cremation – Human and Animal

What About Mercury?

The University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency have identified that mercury emissions from crematoria are rising rapidly. Mercury exposure causes impaired neurological development particularly in fetuses, infants, and children. Animals that encounter or ingest it have shown adverse behavioral, neurochemical, hormonal, and reproductive effects. Source: Mercury Emissions from Cremation Rise in Minnesota, by Jimmy Lovrien

Is Radiation An Issue?

A recent article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association warns of radiological hazards of crematoria. The cremation of those treated with nuclear medicine and unremoved pacemakers release radioactive particles into the environment. Source: Radiation Contamination Following Cremation of a Deceased Patient Treated With a Radiopharmaceutical, by Nathan Y. Yu, MD; William G. Rule, MD; Terence T. Sio, MD, MS

Do crematories release greenhouse gasses into the air?

Yes, crematoriums release CO2, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. A single cremation is equivalent to driving an SUV 400 miles. The source of this estimation was calculated at optimal efficiency using the Carbon Dioxide Emission Coefficients provided by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. 

Crematory Operations

How Often Can Crematories Operate?

Crematories can operate 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. 

At what temperature do crematories operate?
Crematoria are incinerators that operate at 1500 degrees fahrenheit and higher.
What type of fuel is used to cremate human remains?

Propane used in crematories. Propane is a fuel produced during the refining of oil.