It is not easy to challenge all the psychological effects and the old social traditions related to graveyards, but technical and scientific reasons make it a necessity when health and ecological safety of the comunity are at risk. At least, that is what we are trying to do at the Spanish company COOPERACIÓN INTERNACIONAL EN TECNOLOGÍAS AVANZADAS (C.I.T.A.) SL <http://www.cita.es >.
Summarising geological and hydrological knowledge on one side, and biochemical aspects on the other, the cemetery model behaves as a large rubbish dump where some dimensions, structures, weathers and substances determine the filtration (lixiviation) of biological remains to subterranean aquifers and the proliferation of fauna and flora related to human putrefaction. It means that the environment and the health of the community can be in a serious and awkward situation from the political, historical, social and economic point of view that needs new technologies, some investment, and a lot of care.
Putrefaction happens in several stages that depend on dampness, temperature and external conditions. It is clear from a scientific point of view that most of the bacteria that help us to digest the food in the intestine are the ones most active during putrefaction, when a lot of gas and liquids are ejected from the dead body. However, our own bacteria are not enough for complete decomposition and additional bacteria are needed that are not found in the ground around the body or otherwise take too long to perform a correct and complete putrefaction. Rainfall often causes incomplete putrefaction of the decomposing body by washing away what bacteria is found in the soil.
Engineering, building and technical support of every cemetery must begin by considering the geology and hydrodynamics of the area. If the ground is permeable, the water can be contaminated even quite far away from the cemetery. And the opposite, where the ground is impermeable, we must be concerned with the putrefaction with insufficient oxygen (anaerobic) leading to plants, bacteria and small animals transmitting illness (pathological) to humans. Some epidemics can be better understood from the inter-relationship of the cemetery as a focus of infections and afflictions.
We cannot forget that the cemetery is not a natural ecosystem. Even the elephant cemeteries do not decompose (catabolize) so many organs in so small a space. The nasty smell and the stink of decomposition announce the risks for the humans living around the cemetaries. Even more risk is implied during exhumation; during this process, no amount of precaution is enough.
Recent scientific studies suggest control of the putrefaction process in cemeteries by supplementing nature with non pathological bacteria and enzymes (biocatalyst) that can decompose the bodies more completely and in less time, with no resultant dangerous water contamination. Moreover, it is advisable to select an appropriate botanical balance for every climate. The target is to show the way for proper maintenance of the cemetery and to keep an eye on the main progress of the cemetery's involvement in the equilibrium of the flora and the micro fauna giving much more value and less risk to the area around it where people live.
Miguel Angel Gallardo
is a Mining Engineer (UPM) and Criminologist
who is working for COOPERACIÓN INTERNACIONAL EN TECNOLOGÍAS
AVANZADAS (C.I.T.A.), the Spanish company that leads the
project IBEROEKA 116
for Funeral Homes and Cemeteries Intranet communications
in the Internet all over Latin America, <
> C.I.T.A. Apartado Postal (P.O. Box) 17083-28080
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