Department of Environmental Conservation

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Human and Animal Crematories

A cremator is a device used to reduce human or animal remains to their basic elements using high heat. There are approximately 150 crematory facilities operating in New York State. This information is for both owners and operators of cremation equipment, and members of the public concerned with potential emissions from these types of facilities.

How are crematories regulated?

DEC regulates cremation equipment by requiring crematory owners and operators to follow specific operating practices and other procedures designed to minimize smokestack emissions. In addition to these specific procedures, crematories are required to obtain an air permit or air facility registration from DEC based on their emissions.

Crematory emissions contain particulate matter (leaves DEC website) (i.e. tiny particles of unburned material) that mix with the exhaust gases as they leave the cremation chamber and exit through the smokestack. Very small quantities of particulate matter are present in the exhaust of a properly operating cremator. They may be visible when exiting the crematory and may pose a health risk to sensitive individuals or those with respiratory problems.

DEC regulates particulate matter emitted from cremation equipment based on the date the equipment was installed. Cremation units installed on or before March 14, 2020 have a 0.08 particulate matter limit (grains per dry standard cubic foot, corrected to 7% oxygen). Cremation units installed after March 14, 2020 have a 0.05 particulate matter limit (grains per dry standard cubic foot, corrected to 7% oxygen).

In addition to the particulate matter emission limit, DEC requires crematory owners and operators to maintain records of certain operating parameters and other items to show they are complying with DEC requirements. The full list of required records and monitored parameters can be found in 6 NYCRR Subpart 219-4 (leaves DEC website).

What are crematories allowed to burn?

Crematory owners and operators are prohibited from burning anything other than human and animal remains, the container they came in, and any incidental animal bedding that cannot be easily separated from the animal remains. Common examples of prohibited materials include, but are not limited to:

  • Municipal solid waste (e.g. garbage, documents, batteries, yard waste, tires)
  • Pharmaceuticals and controlled substances
  • Hospital and medical waste (e.g. sharps, tubing, non-implanted medical devices, pacemakers)
  • Chemicals and paints

Operator Training and Certification

DEC regulations require that cremation equipment be operated under the onsite supervision of a certified operator. However, the certification process for human and animal crematory operators is different:

  • Human crematory operators are required to complete a training program that has been approved by the New York State Department of State's Division of Cemeteries (leaves DEC website). Information about available training programs can be obtained directly from the Division of Cemeteries. Operators who successfully complete an approved training program will also meet DEC's certification requirement.
  • Animal crematory owners and operators are required to complete the NYS Animal Crematory Operator Training Program by downloading and reviewing the training manual (PDF) and requesting a written exam. Operators who 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.