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Month: November 2012

Research Suggests 31.59% of Nevada Residents Die Green

Death is a very difficult subject for us to imagine, think about or even discuss. However, we still have to make a choice about what will be done with our remains once we have passed away. Many people choose to be buried at a cemetery, and yet others prefer cremation. Cremation appears to be more harmful to the environment due to the fumes being let out into the atmosphere, but embalming prior to burial is a threat far more that we can expect. The chemicals used in embalming fluid are toxic to the environment decomposition of the corpse into the soil. The embalming fluid is also toxic in the area surrounding the actual embalming process itself. The embalmers must handle the toxic chemicals and thereby are exposed to the dangers they release.

In 2006, the cremation rate for the State of Nevada was 68.41% puting the state in 1st place out of all states in the U.S. for the amount of people who die choosing to be cremated.

The chemicals used for embalming 68.41% of bodies in Nevada are:

  1. Preservative (Arterial) Chemical. These are commonly a percentage (normally 18%-35%) based mixture of formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde or in some cases phenol which are then diluted to gain the final index of the arterial solution. Methanol is used to hold the formaldehyde in solution.
  2. Water Conditioner. These are designed to balance the “hardness” of water (the presence of other trace chemicals that change the water’s pH or neutrality) and to help reduce the deceased’s acidity, a by-product of decomposition, as formaldehyde works best in an alkaline environment.
  3. Cell Conditioner. These chemicals act to prepare cells for absorption of arterial fluid and help break up clots in the bloodstream.
  4. Dyes. Active dyes are used to restore someone’s natural colouration and counterstain against conditions such as jaundice as well as to indicate distribution of arterial fluid. Inactive dyes are used by the manufacturer of the arterial fluid to give a pleasant color to the fluid in the bottle but do nothing for the appearance of the embalmed body.
  5. Humectants. These are added to dehydrated and emaciated bodies to help restore tissue to a more natural and hydrated appearance.
  6. Anti-Edemic Chemicals. The opposite of humectants, these are designed to draw excessive fluid (edema) from a body.
  7. Cavity Fluid. This is a generally a very high-index formaldehyde or glutaraldehyde solution injected undiluted directly via the trocar incision into the body cavities to treat the viscera. In cases of tissue gas, phenol based products are often used instead.
  8. Additional Disinfectants. For certain cases, such as tissue gas, specialist chemicals Triton-28 arterially injected,and topicals such as Dis-Spray or SaniSol 7 can be added to an arterial solution.

In the 1800s arsenic was used for the process of embalming, which was even more toxic to our soil and water ways. Embalming fluid is a hazardous chemical. It works because it “freezes” and kills living cells. Research has found that these chemicals remain in the soil for about 10 years. The nature of the soil environment is dynamic and makes it very hard to study the amount of death caused to microorganisms by embalming fluid during its decade long state. But it is known that formaldehyde used the the embalming process leaches back into the ground as a low level soil contaminant . Natural burials pose no environmental threat at all, it gets soil to the body quickly thus speeding decomposition.

The matter of embalming remains a delicate one for certain people. Some simply do not want to follow this process. Embalming slows decomposition and is unnecessary. There are no health or visual threats posed by at least 95% of dead bodies. The choice remains ours before we cannot decide for ourselves.

Environmentally Conscious Society; Is The Greenback Green?

The most abundant used piece of paper that any of us has touched, is without a doubt, paper currency. We pass it from person to person on a daily basis. But how many times have we actually thought about the process of how money is made and if it has an impact on the environment.

The term “greenback” is used to refer to the United States paper currency, many of us have heard and used this term before. It originated in the 1800’s to refer to newly printed, green-colored U.S. currency, and is still used today because the backs of the current Federal Reserve notes are printed with green ink. A greenback is now understood to mean any denomination of U.S. currency.

Well over 100 years old, today there is more to the greenback than just green ink. With awareness of the environmentally conscious society, the greenback truly is “green”. All United States currency is printed on substrate (currency paper) that is a combination of 75 percent cotton and 25 percent linen. When cotton and flax (linen is made from the flax plant) are planted and harvested, a certain amount of energy is consumed and carbon dioxide is created. This is referred to commonly as a carbon footprint. In this scenario, the carbon footprint is how much carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) is produced while growing the materials that make up the paper on which currency is printed.

Obtaining the materials used to make the inks to print the currency also has a carbon footprint. While the cotton and flax plants are growing, they consume, through photosynthesis, much more carbon dioxide that is required to produce the currency’s raw materials. Actually on a per one-dollar notes basis, the plants will consume (carbon sequestration) 46 times the amount of carbon produced obtaining all of the major materials for the one-dollar note. There you go, that is why the greenback is really “green”.

The Bureau also demonstrates its commitment to being an environmentally responsible corporate citizen in several other ways. Replacing old printing equipment with newer ones which consume less ink and employ state-of-the-art air scrubbers, which reduce air emissions significantly. The use of low volatile organic compound (VOC) inks and low VOC cleaners in the presses will further reduce possible pollution. Recycling is done whenever possible. Also the Bureau is working on a new waste water recycling system that will recycle approximately 95 percent of the water used in the printing process. These efforts along with other proactively demonstrate that keeping the greenback and the environment “green” is a strategic objective at the Bureau.


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