California Could Soon Allow For "Liquid Cremation"

Sep 26, 2017

California Gov. Jerry Brown is considering a bill that would offer another option for Californians deciding what to do with a deceased loved one’s body.

The bill would allow for so-called “liquid cremation,” where a chemical bath dissolves most of the body away except enough bone to put in an urn.

Deborah Meckler with the Bay Area Funeral Consumers Association said the process creates less pollution than flame cremation.

"The air pollution that we’re particularly concerned with is mercury particulates, and that usually comes from dental amalgams," Meckler said. "Once that mercury is burned and becomes particulate in the air it’s very damaging.”

Terry McHale with the California Funeral Directors Association said demand for flame cremation has gone from 20 percent to more than 60 percent in recent decades, and that liquid cremation’s time has come. 

“Liquid cremation is really the purest way to get it done," McHale said. “But it’s a new process, and it’s going to take a little bit for education and for society to adapt to it, but it’s inevitable and it’s sensible.”

The bill passed both chambers with overwhelming majorities, though some argued it adds to a long list of state licensing requirements.

More than a dozen other states have approved the process, including Nevada and Oregon. Governor Brown has until mid-October to reach a decision. 

Copyright 2017 Capital Public Radio