Teeth behind rise in cremation costs

CREMATIONS in Ipswich are to cost an extra £50 in an effort to reduce toxic emissions from people's teeth, it emerged todayA new £50 levy is being brought in because an ever-increasing number of people with amalgam fillings are dying and being cremated, a process which releases mercury from the fillings into the atmosphere.

CREMATIONS in Ipswich are to cost an extra £50 in an effort to reduce toxic emissions from people's teeth, it emerged today

A new £50 levy is being brought in because an ever-increasing number of people with amalgam fillings are dying and being cremated, a process which releases mercury from the fillings into the atmosphere.

Councils throughout the UK are required by law to have equipment in place which will reduce their mercury emissions by 50pc by 2012 - a fact that has forced Ipswich Borough Council to consider how it will comply with the legislation.

Members of the council's executive are set to meet on Tuesday to rubber-stamp the introduction of the £50 charge on all adult cremations, which will help raise the £1million needed for the improvements to Ipswich crematorium.


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John Carnall, the councillor responsible for finance, said: “It's a sort of environmental charge for each adult cremation.

“By 2012 we have to have cremators which meet new service standards on mercury emissions.

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“The money raised will be ring-fenced and put to the purchase of new cremators.”

About £10,000 is expected to be generated each month since the council carries out 194 cremations on average every month.

Mercury is toxic and accumulates in the air and water. It can harm the brain, kidneys, nervous system and unborn children.

It impacts on the food chain, particularly when it is deposited in water and taken up by fish.

Up to 16pc of all mercury emitted in the UK comes from crematoria because of fillings in teeth.

It is expected that figure would rise to 25pc by 2020 if left unchecked. That is because more people who were part of a generation which is more likely to have retained all its teeth, but has more fillings because it did not benefit from advances in oral hygiene, are now dying.

Louise Gooch, the councillor responsible for environmental services, said: “The process of cremation releases mercury from amalgam fillings into the atmosphere, which clearly is not a good thing.

“We're preparing ourselves well in advance of the 2012 deadline.”

The council has the option of fitting what is known as “mercury abatement” equipment to reduce emissions from its existing cremators or to install new lower-emission cremators.

“If we're going to do it, we want to do it properly,” Ms Gooch said.

What do you think about this new charge? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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