Kansas Environmental Health Association

Affiliate of the National Environmental Health Association

Funeral Homes and Onsite WW Systems

Posted by Beth Rowlands on April 10, 2013 at 2:40 PM

In the State of Kansas, only domestic wastes may be directed to an onsite wastewater system. Domestic waste, as defined by the State of Kansas, includes waste originating primarily from kitchen, bathroom and laundry sources, and includes wastes from food preparation, dishwashing, garbage grinding, toilets, baths, showers and sinks. Wastewater generated from the activities at a funeral home would not fall within this definition. If wastewater, other than that carrying domestic waste, from a funeral home was to be directed to an onsite wastewater system, that system would be considered a Class V industrial waste injection well subject to regulation by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment's (KDHE) Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program.

Information available to KDHE indicates the following wastes are often generated by funeral homes.

 Blood and bodily fluids

 Formaldehyde

 Cleaners and sanitizers

 Shampoos

 Chlorinated solvents

 Infectious diseases

These wastes have the potential to contaminate ground and/or surface water in the following ways:

 Blood and bodily fluids have much higher biological oxygen demands and nitrogen content than domestic wastes.

 Formaldehyde is a potential carcinogen and may also be harmful to soil bacteria.

 Wastewater from cleaning utensils and laundry, and sanitizing the preparation room may contain phenols and mercuric chloride.

 Some shampoos used may contain chlorinated hydrocarbons.

 Chlorinated solvents are sometimes used for cleaning purposes.

 Some infectious diseases are known to be transmissible from human corpses to living humans. Examples include, but are not limited to, rabies, meningococcal infection, anthrax, and Ebola.

KDHE strongly recommends that funeral home waste not be directed to an onsite wastewater system. If feasible, these wastes should be directed to a municipal sewer system. If this option is not feasible, we recommend a water tight holding tank be installed and periodically pumped. If a holding tank is to be installed we suggest the following inquires be made prior to installation:

 Ask the local septic tank pumpers if they would be willing to haul this type of waste.

 Contact the public wastewater treatment facility to determine if they will accept wastewater pumped from the holding tank.

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