More and more people are choosing cremation as an alternative to the traditional burial. But if there are questions surrounding the person’s cause of death, what happens? Is it possible to determine cause of death after a body has been cremated? Once a body is cremated virtually no signs of illness, injury, or foul play remain. Here’s a brief outline of how the process works.
Before a body is cremated, any pacemakers, mechanical prostheses, or ICDs are removed. Any radioactive isotopes implanted for cancer treatments are removed. The body is placed in the cremation chamber, also known as a retort. All together, the cremation process takes 2-3 hours to complete, vaporizing soft tissue and calcifying the bone. Generally, any medical implants, screws, wires, staples, and pins that aren’t removed before the cremation will survive the cremation process. Also, metal dental implants, fillings, and crowns cab survive. A magnet is used to remove this remaining metal. The bone fragments are then put in a device known as a cremulator that pulverizes the larger pieces of bones. This allows the remains to fit into an urn or other container. The metal collected is generally sent off for recycling.
Once cremated, the body is reduced to non organic and any natural elements it contained. Bone is pulverized to the size of grains of sand. This is why it is nearly impossible to determine the cause of death from cremated remains. Because of this, states require cause of death or a certified death certificate be prepared before a body can be cremated. If there are a large amount of metals like mercury, lead, chromium, etc. left in the remains, this may point to an area of concern. But non metal based medications, drugs, or poisons that have been administered before death do not survive the cremation process. All the blood, fluids, and tissues that store signs of drugs or poisons are vaporized during the cremation process. Likewise, any sign of non-metal based drugs, chemicals, and poisons are vaporized along with them. Cremated remains also will not carry any pathogens or disease. This is the reason they are considered non-toxic and safe to scatter in the environment. Science is advancing every day. Perhaps someday soon we will be able to get more information about a persons life after their death.