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Why is America Using More Embalming Fluids?

New market reports project the use of embalming fluids will increase globally. Find out why America is using more embalming fluid despite health warnings.
Why Use of Embalming Fluid Is Expected to Increase
Why Use of Embalming Fluid Is Expected to Increase

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Even though eco-friendly direct cremation services are becoming increasingly more popular in the U.S., North America is still projected to be the second largest market for embalming fluids in the coming decade. The Asia Pacific region is expected to outpace North America as the largest market for embalming fluid due to the fact that the chemicals are cheaply manufactured there and there’s a growing acceptance for the use of embalming fluids. The large populations in Asia are also a contributing factor. 

But the real question is why America is expected to be 24% of the market for embalming fluids by 2035 even though cremation is more common than burial and we’re aware of the danger it poses. Let’s see what factors are influencing the U.S. embalming fluid market.  

More Organ Transplants Mean More Embalming Fluid is Used by Hospitals

Surprisingly, part of the reason the use of embalming fluids isn’t expected to decrease in the U.S. has nothing to do with disposition. If it was strictly based on funeral services we may actually see a decline in the use of embalming fluid. 

One of the biggest driving forces behind the increase in embalming over the next decade is a surge in organ transplants. The need is already high, and with chronic diseases like diabetes getting worse in the U.S., demand is expected to rise. Between 2022 and 2023 alone there was an 8.7% increase in organ transplants. It was the 11th year in a row that organ transplants increased. Embalming fluid is used to preserve the organs prior to the transplant surgery.  

More organ donations and transplants is a great thing because it means more people are getting life-saving procedures. The downside is the toxic embalming fluid that has to go somewhere after the organs are harvested. It’s an issue that hospitals will need to address since they are projected to be the biggest end user segment by 3035.  

More Body Donations for Medical Research

Ironically, medical research into how we can reduce the need for organ transplants is also a reason for the increase in embalming fluid. Today, more people are donating their bodies to science so that medical researchers can gain more insight into human anatomy and how to solve various illnesses and conditions. 

Often that requires embalming the donated body since they aren’t necessarily used right away. The organs will be harvested immediately because time is of the essence. However, that’s just the first use. All said and done, it could take 1-2 years for a research facility to complete their work. 

Research laboratories are now the fourth largest end user segment for embalming fluid. 

Medical Examiner’s Are Preserving More Evidence

Body preservation is also a concern for medical examiners that are determining the cause and manner of a death or aiding police in an investigation. It’s common for embalming fluid to be used to preserve the “evidence” even though embalming fluid can negatively impact the results of an autopsy. 

Over the years, forensics has gotten much better, particularly in the field of DNA detection. It could be one reason for the increased use of embalming fluid by police departments. Currently, government entities and police stations are the third largest end user for embalming fluid.

Some Funeral Homes Promote Embalming . . . Even Though It’s Unnecessary

It shouldn’t be too surprising to find that many funeral homes play a role in our reluctance to eliminate embalming fluid. It’s to be expected when embalming is an upsell that costs $750 on average. Every person that chooses to embalm puts extra money in a funeral home’s coffers. 

Rather than explaining to clients that embalming isn’t necessary, some funeral home directors choose to focus on the perceived benefits of the service. This is particularly true if the family opts to have a memorial or funeral service prior to burial or cremation where the body will be viewed. What they fail to tell clients is that other methods can be used to preserve the body that doesn’t involve toxic embalming fluid. Simply refrigerating the body could be enough in some situations. 

You would think that funeral homes would use embalming fluids more than any other segment, but by 2035 they’ll be the second largest end user segment. As more people gain awareness over the dangers associated with embalming fluid the trend away from formaldehyde-based fluids will hopefully continue. 

What Can Be Done to Curb Embalming Fluid Use in the U.S.?

Globally, the use of embalming fluid is expected to increase. The embalming fluid market is anticipated to grow from a $6 billion industry to a $15 billion industry by 2035. It’s a concerning trend given that toxic embalming fluid can potentially get into groundwater and waterways. Pumping more embalming fluid into the environment across various regions is an issue that impacts everyone on the planet. 

We can all agree that organ transplants are extremely important, so if embalming fluid is needed to preserve life-saving organs that will be hard to circumvent. What else can we do to curb embalming fluid use in the U.S.?

One thing that we can do is choose eco-friendly funeral services. Every burial or cremation that doesn’t involve the use of embalming fluid helps reduce the overall problem and mitigate the times when embalming is used for other purposes like organ donations and to preserve evidence. It’s a personal choice that gives individuals a voice and can help encourage the development of safer preservatives. 

If you do prefer embalming, but don’t like the idea of putting formaldehyde in the environment you can request that the funeral home use a safer option like glutaraldehyde based embalming fluids.

If you want to be part of the change that reduces the amount of embalming fluid that’s used, Cremation.Green is the funeral home for you. We never use embalming fluid, which lowers the cost of cremation for you and the environment. Give us a call, email or text any time of day to get personal assistance arranging funeral services.

Picture of Marlaena Gonzales

Marlaena Gonzales

Funeral Director
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