Nowadays, Chinese and Christians tend to change from burial to cremation because of acute problems with space to bury the dead.
In Bangkok, there are 308 temples that provide about 2,254 cremations per month, and every coffin uses an average of 3.75 square meters, or 0.4043 kilograms of plastic. That means, in the course of a month, more than 900 kilograms of plastic are incinerated at the temples in Bangkok, adding to pollution caused by cars and factories. Nowadays,
most of coffins are made of chipboard or particleboard that looks like real wood.
Both produce many pollutants such as dioxins and heavy metals.
Coffin handles, inner lining, sanitary sheets including decorations around the coffin are all made of artificial materials mainly plastic. Glues in chipboard and paint, containing formaldehyde, are also pollutants when burnt. Clearly, cremation is a practice that generates and releases extreme smoke pollution that contains cancer-producing materials such as dioxins and furans (Association of Burial Grounds, 2003; Cunningham et al, 2003; Environmental Health Department, 2001; Kruaysawat, 1999;
UNEP Chemicals, 2001).
Moreover, mercury emissions from dental amalgams during cremation
may cause huge effect to the environment. Mercury will leak from these fillings because of mercury’s low vapor pressure and add to the mercury levels already present in the body. The hazards of mercury are severe even in small doses. Once present in the body mercury immediately and continually affects the functions of the kidneys and can affect the central nervous system. Loss of balance, prevalence of antibiotic resistant intestinal
bacteria, and risk of low fertility are other health effects of mercury (Malony, 1998; Scarmoutzos and Boyd, 2003, UNEP, 2003).