ENVIRONMENTAL campaigners say more needs to be done to cut fumes from cremations, claiming they can produce as much harmful pollution as a car driving twice the length of the UK.

Around 95 per cent of coffins used in cremations are made from chipboard or MDF.

Funerals using these produce the same amount of nitrogen oxide gas as a car driving 2,280 miles – or 3,650 cars driving past during the course of a cremation, according to industry magazine Pharos.

A Freedom of Information request by Newsquest's Data Investigations Unit has found only a handful of the UK's 307 crematoria are using new deNOx technology to reduce the harmful emission levels.

Kingsdown Crematorium in Swindon is among those without it – but the borough council labelled the Pharos claims "extremely questionable".

A spokesman for the Green Party said: “We’re very concerned about NOx pollution. We’re in no doubt that cremations are contributing to this problem.

“Ironically, people with stoves and log burners are advised against burning chipboard due to the toxic fumes it produces, yet this is precisely what is happening with funerals as the majority of coffins cremated are made of chipboard.

“We shouldn’t let the taboo around death prevent us from addressing environmental concerns.”

In 2018, 78 per cent of deaths in the UK resulted in cremations. This is a huge rise from 1968, when it was only 51 per cent.

A Swindon Borough Council spokesman said: “The council’s crematorium at Kingsdown meets all industry standards for the safe release of gases and is subject to regular health and safety checks to ensure ongoing compliance.

“We use mercury abatement technology at our facility and continue to monitor all other industry best practices.

"The council is not involved in the choice of casket material, which is provided by the bereaved family with the support of their funeral director.

“The claim made within this article regarding the comparison between crematorium gases and vehicle fumes is, we would say, extremely questionable and leaves out many factors which impact on the safety of residents, such as proximity to residential areas and the relative heights of release points.”

And a climate change protest group urged councils and the government to see the bigger picture.

Extinction Rebellion Swindon member John Ranford said: “It’s far more effective to think about the impact we make now rather than when we die.

“If we want to be cremated I think that those things have a much smaller impact compared to the impact that the government makes.

“The government are the ones who need to make sacrifices, we’re going to see the climate catastrophe before we know it.”

'New deNOx technology should be law'

THE company which supplies the majority of the UK’s crematoria is developing technology to reduce nitrogen oxides.

But many councils have said the equipment provided by Facultatieve Technologies is not used as there is no legislative requirement to do so.

The director of Tapper Funeral Service, Steven Tapper, decided to fit the pollution-reducing technology at his family firm in Poole.

He said: “The cremation industry has kept itself under the radar.

"The same filtration systems are available for crematoriums as for a car engine.

“We’ve got a NOx filter at our crematorium. They cost around £30,000 and whilst that’s a lot of money it’s not a lot in relative terms to the cost of a cremator or crematorium. In relative terms it’s small change.

“I don’t want to be breathing in NOx, I don’t want colleagues and friends breathing it in and I certainly don’t want my clients breathing it in.

“Having deNOx equipment is comparable to having seatbelts in cars or a catalytic converter – it should be law."

An FOI request confirmed at least 91 per cent of the 198 publicly-run crematoria do not have the technology installed.