White Marsh is a quiet suburban community in Baltimore County, largely centered around Philadelphia Road and surrounding areas. A mix of old farmhouses, 1950's cape cods, and more recently developed neighborhoods in the last two decades. Despite the mixture of residential and commercial development, White Marsh still retains a bit of it's rural character with woods, streams and wildlife - it's literally a great place to live and raise a family. 

In Spring 2022, the White Marsh Cowenton Community Association became aware that Evans Funeral Home planned to construct a new funeral home on the property at 11543 Philadelphia Road in White Marsh, Baltimore County, MD. At that time there was no community opposition because the plan submitted to Baltimore County’s Development Plan Committee (DRC) did not include any mention nor drawing of a crematorium.  The zoning on the property at the time was BL, which only permitted the property to be used as a funeral home by special exception, which was granted by an Administrative Law Judge in May 2022.  

Since that time, apparently the plans have changed, because recently Evans Funeral Home has submitted an application with the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) Air & Radiation to construct a crematorium at 11543 Philadelphia Road in White Marsh, Baltimore County, MD.  (*The community was never notified of this application and it was only by coincidence that we learned of this development.)

Within 1000 feet of this property are (2) daycare facilities, a church, and 100+ residences with families and children. Studies show that crematoriums emit gases and volatile organic compounds including carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, mercury, hydrocarbons and particulate matter/fine dust.

Mercury and carbon monoxide are both colorless and odorless, and mercury is a known neurotoxin, defined as  a poison which acts on the nervous system.  Exposure to neurotoxins has been implicated in neurological damages such as intellectual disability, persistent memory impairments, epilepsy, and dementia. (Reference – ChEBI, Dictionary of molecular entities focused on ‘small’ chemical compounds, neurotoxin.)   In addition to the aforementioned VOCs, benzene is a chemical that can seriously harm human health, and constitutes the largest proportion (~50%) of the chemical components of VOCs in the flue gas from the cremators.” (Reference -,surrounding%20environment%20and%20human%20health)  

This situation is so serious that many states in the US only permit crematoriums to operate within the confines of cemetery property, while other states, such as CT, NC and CA have enacted legislation mandating that crematoriums operate no closer than distances of up to 500 ft from residential homes and/or daycare facilities.  

Despite assurances from the funeral & cremation industry that the cremation process is safe for nearby residents, there is an absence of data to prove this statement. Based on the lack of evidence to determine that the operation of a crematorium poses no health risks to the immediately surrounding residential & business community, the residents and business owners of White Marsh are vehemently opposed to having the proposed crematorium constructed at 11543 Philadelphia Rd.  

Additional Scientific Information is provided below. You may skip this section and proceed directly to the end if you wish to sign, although we hope you will take a few minutes to read and learn about the process, and dangers of cremation emissions:  

The Cremation process generates Combustion gases including carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and volatile organic compounds (VOC), as well as particulate matter and fine dust (PM10 and PM2.5), Organic pollutants, which are compounds resulting from incomplete combustion processes or formed when organic compounds react with chlorine in materials such as plastics. These pollutants can include polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs) and dibenzofurans (PCDFs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) amongst others. The most dangerous gas emitted from cremation is heavy metal from Mercury (Hg). This comes from volatilization of Hg in dental amalgam in fillings and a small quantity of various metals in tissues of the individual. (Reference -National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health, “Crematoria Emissions & Air Quality Impacts,” Juliette O’Keefe, March 24, 2020)  

The pollutants of most concern are those known to be toxic to humans and which can bioaccumulate in tissues (e.g., PCDD/Fs and Hg) as well as fine particulate matter (PM2.5), which can negatively impact the heart and lungs and is associated with some chronic illnesses and adverse birth outcomes. (Reference - Tibau AV, Grube BD. Mercury contamination from dental amalgam. J Health Pollut. 2019;9(22):190612; Mari M, Domingo JL. Toxic emissions from crematories: a review. Environ Int. 2010;36(1):131-7; Leśków A, Nawrocka M, Łątkowska M, Tarnowska M, Galas N, Matejuk A, et al. Can contamination of the environment by dioxins cause craniofacial defects? Hum Exp Toxicol. 2019;38(9):1014-23; California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. Health studies of criteria air pollutants.  Sacramento, CA: OEHHA;  [cited 2019 Dec 23])  

Evidence on the release of radioactive particles, following cremation of deceased patients who had been treated with radioactive substances (e.g., cancer treatments) has not been widely studied but has been raised as an emerging area of public interest and concern. (Reference - Smith TO, Gitsham P, Donell ST, Rose D, Hing CB. The potential dangers of medical devices with current cremation practices. Eur Geriatr Med. 2012;3(2):97-102.  Yu NY, Rule WG, Sio TT, Ashman JB, Nelson KL. Radiation contamination following cremation of a deceased patient treated with a radiopharmaceutical. JAMA. 2019;321(8):803-4.  Calais P. Gaussian plume atmospheric modelling and radiation exposure calculations following the cremation of a deceased thyroid cancer patient treated with iodine-131. J Radiol Prot. 2017;37(1):247-65.)          

By signing this petition, I am asking for legislation to mandate that ( excepting for existing crematoriums in operation), no crematoriums be constructed for operation within 500 feet of a residential area, daycare facility, church or restaurant with open air seating, due to the possible negative health implications and the  lack of data which excludes negative health implications.        

Heather Patti, White Marsh Cowenton Community Association    Contact the author of the petition

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