States Consider: Is It Legal to Dissolve Bodies?

June 2, 2011 - 12:43 PM

Liquefying Bodies

In this Feb. 14, 2011 photo provided by Edwards Funeral Home in Columbus, Ohio, Jeff Edwards stands next to an alkaline hydrolysis device that uses lye and heat to dissolve a body as an alternative to burial or cremation. Proponents say it’s more environmentally friendly than traditional cremation, but skeptics question the safety and social implications of sending someone’s remains down the drain. (AP Photo/Edwards Funeral Home)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — More states are opening the door for funeral businesses to dissolve bodies with lye and heat instead of burning or burying the remains.

Changes taking effect this year allow the use of alkaline hydrolysis in Colorado, Kansas and Maryland. Lawmakers in New York and California also are considering it.

Funeral directors are starting a push to make it legal in Ohio, where regulators blocked the only U.S. funeral home to use the procedure so far.

The process is generating buzz at funeral industry association meetings and in mortuary science classes.

Proponents say the process has lower operating costs and is more environmentally friendly than cremation. But skeptics question the social implications of sending someone's remains down the drain, and whether it's safe for the environment and public health.