What to Do When We Have Too Many Bodies to Cremate Safely?

Image Credit: Jaroslav A. Polák / Wikimedia Commons

In Los Angeles County, as healthcare providers lose the battle against COVID-19, environmental regulators have had to lift the limits on air pollution produced by crematoriums. 

Environmentalists have long fought for these regulations and limits on how many bodies can be cremated each day. Studies have shown that crematoriums release toxic amounts of mercury into the air due to the emissions from burning dental fillings. In a horrible twist, with COVID, not being able to properly dispose of these bodies, could also lead to a serious public health issue. 

Crematoriums in LA County are at capacity, as over 2,700 bodies fill hospital morgues and the coroner’s office. Plus more and more bodies are filling the makeshift morgues in refrigerated trucks that the National Guard has had to bring in to assist with storing bodies.  

Hospitals and healthcare providers are doing their best to prevent more deaths, but have their hands tied as LA county continues to break records and has so far suffered over 13,400 deaths from COVID-19. And health officials are still waiting for the surge they know will come six to eight weeks after the New Year’s Holiday celebrations. 

To get ahead of such a deadly and out of control virus, we can’t continue to cut corners to mitigate its impact; what we need is a drastic shift in how this pandemic is being handled. We need accurate information from the leading scientists, we need resources allocated for the massive production of test kits, vaccines, and protective equipment. The Biden administration says it is doing what it can to deal with the emergency. But it’s part of the political and economic system that values profits over people’s lives. If the system operated with rules that valued people more, it never would have let someone like Trump have any say in this emergency.