Dead Bodies and Disease Myths

Funeral Consumers Alliance of Greater Philadelphia 

1906 Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia,Pa 19103

Please feel free to contact us at: (215)-545-9210

Dead Bodies and Disease: The “Danger” That Doesn’t Exist

Funeral industry members frequently claim that dead bodies are a source of contagion to the public, and that embalming is necessary to prevent the spread of disease. Some will also claim that unembalmed dead bodies must be buried in a casket and a vault to prevent “contamination” of groundwater. These assertions are not true. The myth of contagion from dead bodies is one of the most persistent of the American funeral industry, and it's important for journalists to know there is no evidence, peer-reviewed or otherwise, to justify it. In fact, there is overwhelming scientific evidence against it. This guide should help you separate funeral myth from fact.

It’s important to remember that this is not a matter of opinion, but of facts. "He said, she said" stories are not appropriate. We often see articles that read like this:

"John Q. funeral director says embalming helps prevent the spread of disease, but consumer advocates say this isn't so."

This is not an accurate way to present the issue. It's not just that consumer advocates “say it isn't so”; the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and the Pan-American Health Organization have all published data backing up our position. By contrast, there are no studies showing a public health threat from unembalmed bodies. There is no evidence of rampant disease in the countries around the world (almost all of them) where embalming is seldom, if ever, practiced. In addition, we’ve never seen one instance where a funeral industry member provided a journalist with any evidence to support the claim that unembalmed corpses pose a health threat. Funeral Consumers Alliance, however, supports its position with scientific, peer-reviewed evidence. The next time a funeral industry member claims dead bodies are dangerous, ask for evidence and documentation. 

This entire article may be found at our national's website at:  142-embalming-myths-facts.htm