TOXIC pollution is released from cremations every day because of a lack of action in tackling fumes.

The majority of coffins cremated in Brighton are made from MDF or chipboard, which release toxic nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide when burnt.

One cremation with this type of coffin produces as much of these pollutants as a car driving 2,280 miles, according to industry magazine Pharos.

Funeral firm Facultatieve Technologies has developed “deNOx” technology, which reduces the amount of harmful gases produced by cremations.

But neither Woodvale Crematorium nor The Downs Crematorium have this £30,000 tech installed, driving up air pollution in the city.

With a recent study revealing more than 50 people die in the city each year from nitrogen dioxide exposure, environmental campaigners are urging action on toxic gases.

The Argus:

“DeNOx technology should be investigated,” Brighton Friends of the Earth’s Chris Todd said.

“Personally the bigger worry for me is the other chemicals like heavy metals and dioxins that it will emit.

“All of this is heading to the surrounding houses downwind.”

Brighton and Hove City Council, which manages Woodvale Crematorium, said it already had mercury filtering technology installed to prevent the toxic chemical leaking.

But a spokesman said it would consider installing deNOx technology too.

“Woodvale Crematorium had new cremators installed in late 2013. At that time, deNOx technology was not available as an option,” he said. “When the new cremators were installed in 2013, they included the latest filter technology and continual emissions control. At this time, the council also invested in the installation of mercury abatement equipment.

“The council is also looking into the practicalities and cost of upgrading our current crematoriums to include deNOx technology. This is obviously an area we are interested in due to our commitment of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.”

Dignity, which runs The Downs Crematorium in Bear Road, also said it was considering installing the technology.

Crematoria director Steve Gant said: “We recognise our responsibility to help protect the environment and are aware that new technology has been developed to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions at crematoria.

“We are actively considering whether to install deNOx equipment across our entire portfolio.”

"There are illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide in most towns and cities."

The Argus:

With climate change at the top of the political agenda, a lot of talk has centred around cutting carbon dioxide, the main driver of global warming.

But environmental campaigners are worried about another deadly gas produced by cars... nitrogen dioxide.

Hove-based researcher Rick Lyons studied the pollutant’s effects in a University of Edinburgh study last year.

He found more than 50 people in Brighton and Hove died each year from exposure to the gas, a level similar to many inner London boroughs.

But how exactly does nitrogen dioxide kill?

“What it does is it causes premature death and exacerbates respiratory conditions,” Mr Lyons said.

“So if someone has asthma, for example, breathing nitrogen dioxide might make it worse.

“Exposure to nitrogen dioxide also increases the risk of birth defects and developing dementia.”

According to the academic, nitrogen dioxide is a huge problem in cities and towns across Sussex and Britain as a whole.

“There are illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide in most cities and large towns,” Mr Lyons said.

“Even some small villages have high levels if they are near A-roads, so it’s a really widespread problem.”

So how can it be tackled?

By tackling the pollutant at its source, Mr Lyons explained.

“In terms of local policies we need to look at ways to encourage people to swap the diesel and petrol vehicles out for clean modes of transport,” he said.

“That could come in the form of a total ban, like Brighton and Hove City Council wants to introduce in the city centre.

“Or it could be introducing congestion charges like London has.

“Work needs to be done to make sure the bus fleet is entirely electric.

“Encouraging people to get zero-emissions cars doesn’t work on its own.”

The rise of eco coffins

IT IS clear more people are trying to live an eco-friendly lifestyle.

But now more people are dying green too.

For the 78 per cent of people who chose cremations over burial when they die, more and more are switching to paper-based fibreboard coffins.

These emit up to 87 per cent less nitrogen gases during cremation than commonly-used chipboard coffins.

LifeArt Coffins UK is one of the firms leading the charge against cremation pollution.

Director Simon Rothwell said: “Most coffins these days comply with a set of standards around their strength and flammability.

“But there is absolutely no testing on the emissions produced during cremation.

“We’re trying to change this.

“Eco-coffins have been very expensive but ours are priced to be affordable and make it easier for families to reduce their final footprints.”