Mercury emission from crematories in Japan
Abstract. Anthropogenic sources of mercury emissions have a significant impact on global pollution. Therefore, finding uncharacterised sources and assessing the emissions from these sources are important. However, limited data are available worldwide on mercury emissions from crematories. In Japan, 99.9% of dead bodies are cremated, which is the highest percentage in the world, and more than 1600 crematories are in operation. We thus focused on emissions from crematories in Japan. The number of targeted facilities was seven, and we used continuous emission monitoring to measure the mercury concentrations and investigate mercury behaviour. The total mercury concentrations in stack gases were a few μg/Nm3 (normal cubic meters). Considering the time profile of mercury and its species in cremations, the findings confirmed that the mercury in stack gas originated from dental amalgam. The amount of mercury emissions was calculated using the total concentration and gas flow rate. Furthermore, the annual amount of mercury emission from crematories in Japan was estimated by using the total number of corpses. The emission amount was considerably lower than that estimated in the United Kingdom. From statistical analyses on population demographics and measurements, future total emissions from crematories were also predicted. As a result, the amount of mercury emitted by crematories will likely increase by 2.6-fold from 2007 to 2037.