All five crematoriums in Toronto release mercury but that's about to change! TEA recently toured Mount Pleasant Crematorium's new equipment, which eliminates all mercury emissions.
It was installed after TEA worked with community members to raise the alarm about toxic releases.
Mount Pleasant Crematorium
Mount Pleasant Group of Cemeteries
"It was the right thing to do for the environment and the communities we serve."
- Glen Timney, Vice President Corporate Development
Mount Pleasant Cemetery Crematorium is one of 5 crematoriums operating in Toronto. The ChemTRAC Program found a total release of 12 kilograms of mercury from crematoriums in 2011, with Mount Pleasant releasing 2 kilograms into the air. But in 2014, they will report zero mercury releases.
How did they manage that?
In September 2014, TEA got a tour of the Mount Pleasant Cemetery Crematorium. Glen Timney shared the corporation's two-pronged strategy to eliminate harmful chemical releases.
They have invested in new equipment by Facultatieve Technologies that uses pollution controls to remove all heavy metals and other chemicals. The air emission tests they ran, a requirement for Ministry of Environment approvals, couldn't even find mercury in the samples. This fact, combined with the barrel of 'spent reagent' onsite, indicates that their pollution control measures are effective!
In simple terms, 'reagent' mixes with the substances found in the cremation vents (such as mercury) and weighs it down so it falls into a barrel for proper disposal instead of getting released into the outdoor air.
But it's not enough to just control heavy metals at the 'end of pipe'. So Mount Pleasant has looked upstream at where the caskets are coming from. They have required funeral homes to limit the amount of metals used in their caskets. Glen admitted that this was not a popular demand and they ran the risk of losing some clients at first. The metal found on the outside of the casket (e.g. handles) is removed before cremation and then recycled by a company called OrthoMetals.
The corporation now expects to be so far below the ChemTRAC limits set by Toronto Public Health that they will not need to report at all. They may decide to voluntarily report to ChemTRAC, since it is a tool for the community to access information on the company's successful transition away from mercury releases.
- Mount Pleasant Crematorium website Read the full details of Mount Pleasant's shift away from Mercury emissions on their website.
Good Neighbour Campaign Read the history of the Moore Park residents' efforts to eliminate toxic releases from the crematorium, with help from TEA's Good Neighbour Campaign.
ChemTRAC's Quick Facts on Funeral Services Review a map of funeral homes and crematoriums & learn about chemicals commonly used and released by this sector.
TEA's Mercury in Toronto Map Access a map of all sources of Mercury in Toronto, released into our air and water by crematoriums, sewage treatment plants and manufacturers.
Find related TEA activities by going to Toxics or clicking on the relevant TAGS below.