An Ohio funeral director has been effectively banned from offering a procedure called alkaline hydrolysis, or liquid cremation, even though it's believed to be better for the environment than cremation.
Edwards Funeral Service in Columbus has used the method on 19 bodies this year, but the Associated Press reports that the Ohio Department of Health has issued a memo telling local officials to stop issuing the permits necessary for body disposal if alkaline hydrolysis is used.
It seems the opposition to the procedure is due to the fact that it sounds totally disgusting, but most people would probably find a detailed description of cremation or embalming just as disturbing. The process involves using a water and lye solution, high heat, and 60 pounds of pressure per square inch to destroy bodies in a steel cylinder. This leaves a liquid that can be safely poured down a drain and bones that can be ground into powder to be spread like ashes.
"I think burning a body at 2,000 degrees has more of a ‘yuck factor' to it than putting it into a solution where it's just naturally going to break down," said James Olson, chairman of the National Funeral Directors Association's green burial work group.
Edwards says he plans to sue the state because there's no law against liquid cremation. AOL News reports the procedure is commonly performed by veterinarians, as well as the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, which uses it on cadavers donated for medical research.
"There's no really pretty way to exit the planet," says Terry Regnier, director of anatomical services at the Mayo Clinic, "But I'd use this on my mom or dad." Other funeral homes across the country are considering offering the procedure, but since they'll have to challenge Americans' views on burial customs first, it may be a long time before it's available to the public.