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A cremator is a device used to reduce human or animal remains to their basic elements using high heat. There are approximately 160 crematory facilities currently operating in New York State. The information presented on this page is of interest to owners and operators of both human and animal cremation equipment as well as members of the public concerned with potential emissions from these types of facilities. If you have any questions about the material contained on these pages, please use the contact information located to the right.

How are Crematories Regulated?

The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) regulates facilities operating cremation equipment based on when and where it was installed. Each regulation contains specific operating practices and other requirements designed to minimize smoke stack emissions from crematories.

Emissions contain tiny particles of unburned material that mix with the exhaust gases as they leave the cremation chamber and exit through the smoke stack. Very small quantities of particulates are present in the exhaust of a properly operating cremator. They often are visible when exiting the crematory and may pose a health risk to sensitive individuals or those with respiratory problems. For more information about particulate matter see the offsite link section to the right.

Determining which regulations apply

DEC regulates facilities operating cremation equipment based on the date the equipment was installed and where in the state it is located. The table below shows which regulations apply.

In addition to the regulations below, ALL crematories are required to obtain a state facility permit or air facility registration from DEC based on their emissions.

Crematory Regulations
Cremation Equipment
Installed or Modified
County Location of Crematory
NYC, Nassau and
Westchester Counties
All other counties
in New York State
Before 01/01/1989 6 NYCRR Subpart 219-6 6 NYCRR Subpart 219-5
On or after 01/01/1989 6 NYCRR Subpart 219-4 6 NYCRR Subpart 219-4

Summary of Regulatory Requirements (Subpart 219-4)

Refer to the law for the full text

  • Cremation equipment must demonstrate that it meets a numerical particulate emission limit at start-up. Crematories are required to conduct a stack test of their equipment or submit a test conducted on an identical unit that demonstrates compliance with this limit.
  • The temperature of the primary and secondary chambers must be monitored and recorded while the unit is operating. The primary chamber must be maintained at 1400 degrees Fahrenheit and the secondary chamber must be maintained at 1800 degrees Fahrenheit when the crematory is in use.
  • The opacity of crematory emissions is limited to less than 10 percent during any consecutive six minute period.
  • Crematory owners must inspect their equipment annually to demonstrate that it is maintained and operated according to manufacturer's instructions. An annual report must be submitted to the DEC that lists any repairs or corrective actions taken during the year to ensure proper operation.

Prohibited Materials

This section provides a list of the materials that may not be burned in a crematory. Each of these materials should be disposed of in accordance with other DEC rules and regulations.

  • Municipal solid waste including items like paper and cardboard, food waste, plastics, batteries, rubber, yard waste and other materials typically discarded from households and businesses.
  • Medical/infectious waste including sharps, culture dishes, surgical devices and tubing, human and animal remains known to be contaminated with infectious diseases, pharmaceuticals, and all other materials that would typically be discarded from a hospital, doctors office or funeral home.
  • Radioactive waste unless specifically allowed by a permit issued pursuant to 6 NYCRR Part 380.
  • Hazardous waste unless specifically allowed by a permit issued pursuant to 6 NYCRR Part 373.

Operator Training and Certification

Crematory operators are required to complete an approved training course and obtain an appropriate operator certification issued by the DEC. There are currently two training programs that satisfy this requirement:

  1. Human crematory owners and operators are required to complete the New York State Cremator Operator Training Program presented by the Cremation Association of North America (CANA). Course information and schedules are located on their website. A link is provided under Links Leaving DEC's Website.
  2. Animal crematory owners and operators are required to complete the New York State Animal Crematory Operator Training Program by downloading and reviewing the training manual and requesting a written exam. Operators that successfully complete the exam will be issued a certificate valid for five years. Exams may be requested by contacting the Bureau of Stationary Sources at (518) 402-8403.