An expert from the Akron Regional Air Quality Management District told Stow City Council Monday that crematoriums do release mercury into the air, but he didn't know how much.
Councilwoman Mary Bednar asked Duane LaClair to speak to council about the particles crematoriums push into the air.
Back in October, the planning commission gave its unanimous recommendation to change the zoning code to allow for cremation equipment at funeral homes. Now council has the final say.
This is the second time Redmon Funeral Home President Keith Redmon is pursuing this zoning change. Redmon pulled his first request in July shortly after residents who live near his business attended a meeting and expressed their displeasure.
"I was asked what comes out into the air and if there are pieces of body," LaClair said. "What comes out is mineralized and the organic compounds in it have been burned out."
Bednar and LaClair said most crematoriums are made to shut down if particulate materials get through filters.
Councilman Mike Rasor asked LaClair asked if the particulate isn't a body, then where does the matter come from.
"It could come from the combustion chambers or from the wooden casket the bodies are in," LaClair said. "It's also possible that the particles could be degradation of the fire brick."
LaClair could recall one complaint his department has received about a funeral home spewing particles into the air and it was in Akron. He said that's the only complaint he received.
Several residents spoke both in favor and against allowing the crematorium.
"Council has had since last June to think about this," said a Williamson Road resident. "Most everyone I've talked to is against this. Who would want to live near a crematorium? There is no reason to start crematory services in Stow."
One resident said he's in favor of the crematorium if Redmon is compliant with regulations and standards of operation.
Tom Leeser, a residential real estate appraiser who lives on Darrow Road, said it's tough to pin down the impact on nearby homes.
"If we look within ourselves we need to ask if I want to live by that or if I want to live downwind from that," Leeser said. "It's not a plus. It's not an incentive to buy a home in the area. And mercury is a big issue."
Several residents agree that Redmon has been a good neighbor and has been a Stow staple for ages, and that isn't the issue. The issue is the health of them and their neighbors.
City Council members will vote on this issue at 7 p.m. Thursday at City Hall.
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