Funeral homes in austin tx, Texas, regularly dispose of fluids from embalmed corpses down the drain – a practice earlier unknown by the city’s city and county water utility, reports the particular Austin American-Statesman .
The mixture of blood, body fluids and embalming liquid after that makes its way to wastewater treatment plants, which then release the treated water back in the Colorado River, or Lady Bird Lake, where hundreds of people swim, motorboat and paddle board every day.
Glenn Bower, executive director of the Texas Funeral Services Commission, said the practice is pretty much standard across the board, and suggested it’s not really that huge a deal because only a small amount of formaldehyde is used and the deceased body juice gets diluted with water as it goes down the drain.
“ When I talk about going down the drain, we have water on the table at all times washing that will so it’s constantly being diluted down, ” Bower informed the Statesman .
“ And then when it comes out directly into my drainage and decreases the drain, it is actually regarded as a negligible amount, therefore anywhere between one-tenth, or one particular in 100%, of formaldehyde is going into the drain, ” Bower explained.
Another funeral home director confirmed embalmers dispose of solid medical waste in biohazard containers, and liquid waste is indeed dumped down the drain.
The macabre practice evidently came as a surprise to Austin Water officials, who initially told the Statesman funeral homes should apply for permits to get rid of the medical waste:
Austin Water officials when asked the way they account for funeral homes preventing powering medical waste down the drain during the treatment of wastewater said they were unaware local mortuaries had been practicing such methods.
“ Austin tx Water Special Services have not received a permit program from any funeral homes, ” read a statement from Austin Water to the Statesman . “ This ordinance is within place to protect against pollutants which could damage or obstruct the wastewater collection system or even interfere with the wastewater therapy process. ”
The Statesman reveals they pressed Austin Water for years to elaborate on how the particular practice could constitute a good interference of the treatment process, however , “ officials would not expand on their statements. ”
Texas Funeral Service Commission Executive Director said the process basically dangerous to the public or maybe the environment because workers make use of water to dilute medical waste.
But Austin Water disagreed. https://t.co/wSnYMPB7zW
— Austin tx Statesman (@statesman) September 13, 2021
Instead, the City replied in a follow-up email claiming all funeral homes had been in compliance with nearby ordinances, and that “ wastewater treatment plants can procedure and treat funeral home medical waste to higher standards as outlined by the Tx Commission on Environmental High quality. ”
The particular Statesman noted mortuaries work under a “ general industrial users” permit, similar to restaurants and car washes, yet that hospitals use a tighter “ major industrial users” permit; however , a question about how exactly hospitals dispose of blood from surgeries and autopsies proceeded to go unanswered by several area hospitals.
Bower added the commission has never been made aware of the necessity of a permit and challenged city water officials to show him the ordinance stating this is the case.
“ If somebody at the sewer system or the water firm said no we can’t do that, I’d like to see exactly where they have that proof due to the fact that means I have over 1, 600 funeral homes within violation, ” Bower claimed.
The exact quantity of embalming fluid that falls the drain during the process is definitely unknown, according to Bower, but he insisted it’s “ not as much as people might think. ”
“ I can honestly say all of us measure the volume going in, but we don’t measure the volume coming out, ” Bower accepted. “ But , that will go down the drain. ”
He also argued the stuff that falls the drain at householder’s homes is much more concerning.
“ When I initial learned how to embalm and am went to school and I began teaching I was like, ‘ Oh my gosh, this is going down the drain, ‘ but the things at individuals residences that go down the drain is far even worse, much more toxic, ” Bower continued.
The report did not mention exactly how widespread the practice might be.
It’s also not clear if any formaldehyde continues to be in fully treated water after it goes through the particular tortuous wastewater treatment process .
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