When burial occurs, it comes to the risk of cemetery ground pollution. As the body decomposes, it releases contaminants into the substrate around it. It’s not just the bodies that create the risk, though. The coffins do as well.
Hazards of Decomposition
A buried body will release a mix of water, ammoniacal nitrogen, and other organic matter into the ground surrounding the burial. Within this organic matter are embalming liquid, bacteria, and viruses. If the person was treated with radiation or chemotherapy, those chemicals will also be released.
Coffins can also release toxic chemicals used in their manufacture. The issue is when those toxins mix with the groundwater. Some groundwater will eventually go into public water supplies.
Avoiding Groundwater Contamination
Cemeteries can avoid groundwater pollution by distancing their locations from any known wells or springs that supply water to the population. They should also not be located near ditches or drains.
The burials themselves should not take place below the water table. Cemeteries could produce a system of collecting any drained groundwater and disposing of it as toxic fluid. Burial spaces could also be recycled so there is no need to create additional risks of pollution.
Groundwater pollution is an ongoing concern as the need for cemetery space continues to grow. Communities will eventually have to determine a safer alternative to burial practices.