Embalming Ban and the European Union

The British public will no longer to able to pay their last respects when the EU bans the chemical, formaldehyde, the toxic chemical currently used in the embalming process.

Should Britain remain within the EU’s single market for the period of 21 months following its official exit, the government here would transpose the EU driven directive into UK law.  This will not apply to the Funeral Industry for five years, with the usual 2 year implementation and 3 year exemption period. 

Question: does the general public actually know anything of embalming? Is a toxic art which has been practiced within the UK since the 1800’s really necessary?  

Embalming originally started in Egypt during the period 6000 BC to 600 DC. The Egyptians believed in life after death and needed to preserve the body  for further use in the afterlife. Preserving deceased remains in a life-like state allowed the soul to exist for perpetual eternity. 

Evolving from the Ancient ones of Egypt, the intention of embalming, in its various forms, is to make the deceased suitable for loved ones to view, particularly after a post-mortem or tragic death.  Yet some say that seeing their loved ones after the invasive embalming process is distressing and just a little makeup would be more than sufficient. 

Storing our dead in refrigeration is a possibility but this too has had its fair share of problems. With frequent long delays, sometimes up to 3 weeks in burying our loved ones, embalming is used to help keep the body in a more viewable condition. That said, there is a divide in the Funeral Industry as to the necessity of embalming. 

Embalming is an invasive procedure which involves draining the body of its fluids and then injecting a highly toxic solution into the arteries. This process takes at least an hour and embalmers must wear protective clothing during the procedure. This being the case, do we really need this highly toxic product invading our soil along with our loved ones? If people really understood what was involved in what can only be described as a questionable practice, would they even choose this process? Some say it is a totally unnecessary falsification. After all, aren’t we creatures of nature and organic matter, not poison?  Furthermore, should loved ones left behind be burdened with an added cost to an already expansive burial budget? Isn’t this simply toxic cost? 

Formaldehyde has been linked to some very serious illnesses, heart disease and cancer among them. This toxic chemical is no friend to our planet and presents some very unfriendly environmental issues to boot. 

Not using formaldehyde could reduce work related sickness for 22,000 industry related employees, and help to improve the lives of more than 1,000,000 people in contact with this toxin.

We are set to see a change in UK law, where embalming currently remains a common funeral practice, far more than in Europe. This ban would lead to significant change in the British funeral culture. 

Other religions such as Islam and Judaism do not embrace this custom, choosing to simply burying their loved ones organically within a short period of time. 

So, is the chemistry of embalming at the end of its shelf life?

Our Funeral Industry is facing a cold, hard reality that is changing the face of death. With embalming no more, what is the solution? Meanwhile, in the UK we await the next step!

One thought on “Embalming Ban and the European Union”

  1. Ruth M says:

    Embalming is absolutely terrible for the environment. Thank God the van is in place, this is much needed and overdue! Who needs their body preserved when they’re dead anyway. I’m definitely all for organic all the way!

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