CREMATIONS in Cumbria have caused in a year the equivalent pollution of a car driven for more than 7.5million miles - a new investigation has revealed.

The majority of coffins used in cremations are made from chipboard or MDF, which produce nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide (collectively known as NOx), which are harmful to human health.

Funerals using these types of coffins produce the same amount of NOx gas as a car driving 2,280 miles or 3,650 cars driving past the crematorium during the course of a cremation - according to industry magazine Pharos.

Freedom of Information requests submitted by the Newsquest Data Investigations Unit revealed that crematoria in Carlisle, Distington and Barrow-in-Furness do not have technology to reduce the harmful effect caused by NOx.

Only four crematoria in the country have confirmed they have deNOx technology.

Green Party city councillor Helen Davison said a solution to offset some of the emissions that come with funerals, which include greenhouse gasses, could be to plant a tree in memory of their loved one.

"As a council we need to be looking at the environmental impact and reducing it as much as possible. All of that NOx pollution not good, as well as the CO2 emissions. If there is scope and the technology, as a council we should be looking at that."

Carlisle council was the first in the world to offer a woodland burial option.

A city council spokesman said: "Our aim is to provide funerals which are meaningful to residents. This means more choice and options, especially those which help the environment as well as reducing funeral costs. For instance, an environmental cremation using a cardboard coffin reduces cremation emissions and reduces costs, if burial is preferred, people can choose a woodland burial using a cardboard coffin, and with an oak tree to replace a stone memorial.

"We maintain more than 70,000 graves in our three cemeteries and six closed churchyards. These areas contain over 3,900 trees, herb rich grassland and a wide variety of wildlife. Being environmentally aware can also reduce costs and pollution. For instance, cardboard and wicker coffins can replace conventional coffins made of chipboard and MDF. Carlisle Cemetery was the first place in the world to offer a woodland burial option in 1993. This continues to be available along with traditional burials.

"We are scheduled to renew our cremators in mid-2021 and will use this opportunity to look at additional abatement for NOx gases as well as existing mercury abatement. All coffins for cremation almost always come from accredited coffin manufacturers. We also accept solid wood coffins as well as cardboard, willow, wicker, seagrass and even shrouded bodies for cremation."

Coun Davison added: "Societally we need to become more aware of the environmental impact of our activities and start to find ways to reduce them as best we can."

Crematoria in Carlisle an Barrow have mercury abatement systems to minimise the mercury in tooth fillings being released into the atmosphere, while Copeland council is in the process of installing one at Distington.

A Copeland council spokesman said: "At Distington Hall Crematorium, we take our environmental impact seriously. In 2019, we installed a new second cremator to improve our environmental and operational performance.

“We are also in the process of fitting a new mercury abatement system that will be operational in the next couple of months that will further improve our environmental performance.

"We will be working with funeral directors to promote the use of more environmentally-friendly coffins."