END OF LIFE
Definition The burning of a dead body to “ashes”.
Modern cremation (CM) was developed in the 19th century as it became increasingly obvious that cemeteries were running out of space. Its popularity has skyrocketed since the 1940s. In the UK, 70% of decedents are cremated; the average costs is about £600 which contrasts to £1200-plus for burial. There is growing concern about its environmental impact, not the least of which hinges on vaporisation of mercury in dental amalgams–CM is responsible for one-sixth of UK emission of mercury–which has been linked to birth defects, kidney disease and multiple sclerosis, as well as dioxins, formaldehyde and chloride used in embalming fluids. The residua (“ashes”) weigh 2 to 3 kg and can be scattered virtually anyplace as they pose no health hazard.