The National Association of Funeral Directors has responded to concerns raised in US-based research about possible links between the use of formaldehyde in embalming by funeral directors and the risk of developing amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as motor neurone disease (MND). In a statement, Chief Executive Officer Alan Slater MBE said:
“With bereaved families increasingly requesting to view their loved ones in chapels of rest, together with a lengthening time period between death and the funeral, embalming is in common use by funeral firms as the only effective method of delaying decomposition and preserving the appearance of a deceased person.
“As the main trade association for the profession, the National Association of Funeral Directors requires its 3,800 funeral home members to abide by a Code of Professional Standards which includes strict guidelines on the safe use and storage of all chemicals used in the care of bodies, including formaldehyde. These guidelines include the use of appropriate protective clothing and equipment, ensuring all HSE and COSHH health and safety standards are met and a strict adherence to manufacturers’ instructions. In addition, many NAFD funeral directors study for the professional qualifications offered by the British Institute of Embalmers.
“As a result of the sensible approach of our members in abiding by these various requirements the NAFD has not, to date, been made aware of any health-related issues amongst our member firms as a result of proximity to embalming fluid.”