Los Angeles Lifts Air-Quality Limits For Cremations As Covid Deaths Double

“Environmental regulators alter rules as 2,700 bodies are stored at hospitals and coroner’s office”

“Air quality regulators have lifted the limits on the number of cremations that can be performed in Los Angeles county, citing a death rate that is more than double the pre-pandemic norm and an unmanageable backlog of dead bodies.

More than 2,700 bodies were being stored at local hospitals and the county coroner’s office as of Friday 15 January, the South Coast air quality management district said on Sunday in explaining its decision to enact an executive order suspending limits on cremations.

This is the first time the South Coast AQMD has ever lifted its limits on cremations, said Nahal Mogharabi, the agency’s director of communications.

The 28 crematoriums in Los Angeles county have the capacity to perform more cremations, but most of their permits include a monthly cap on cremations due to environmental regulations, the regulator said. Environmentalists have for years called for limits on cremations, which studies have shown release toxic mercury emissions from dental fillings. Mogharabi said the “air toxics impacts” resulting from the executive order were expected to be “relatively small”.”

Julia Carrie Wong reports for the Guardian January 18, 2021.