ENVIRONMENTAL campaigners say more needs to be done to cut fumes from cremations which can produce as much harmful pollution as a car driving twice the length of the UK.

Concerns have been raised about the amount of nitrogen oxide gases (NOx) being released during cremations involving coffins made from chipboard or MDF – which account for about 95 per cent.

According to industry magazine Pharos, cremations using these coffins produces the same about of NOx gas as a car driving 2,280 miles or 3,650 cars driving past the crematorium during the course of a cremation.

An investigation has revealed only one crematorium – in Scarborough – in the North-East and North Yorkshire has installed technology to reduce NOx.

Matthew Snedker, from Darlington Green Party, said: "Pollution from oxides of nitrogen (NOx) is something we are worried about.

"NOx reacts with other air pollutant to form a photochemical smog, causing breathing difficulties, particularly for people suffering from asthma and other respiratory conditions.

"I know from a family member, that their asthma is much worse during periods of still weather, when air pollution sits over the town instead of being blown away.

"It can’t be right that burning chipboard in a stove is prohibited when coffins are often made from the same materials but the toxic fumes from cremating them is not effectively removed from the air.

"We shouldn't be afraid of offering bereaved families the kind of information they need to make an environmentally friendly choice when saying goodbye to loved ones."

Darlington Borough Council, which runs the town's crematorium, is in the process of replacing its equipment to make it more environmentally friendly.

A spokesman said: "We are working towards replacing equipment at Darlington Crematorium and redeveloping the existing chapel.

"The new equipment will be fully compliant with and statutory guidance and limits guidelines on emissions.”

Crematoria providers are not currently required to control nitrogen oxides and 180 of the UK's 192 publicly run crematoria do not have deNOx technology fitted.

Durham County Council, which is responsible for Durham and Mounsett Crematoriums said it took its environmental responsibilities seriously and had equipment in place to combat mercury, one of the most common pollutants associated with cremation.

Bereavement services manager Graham Harrison said: " In recent years, there has been an increased focus on NOx gases and we will look at introducing technology to reduce these emissions in the future.”

Wear Valley Crematorium, near Bishop Auckland, is operated by private company Dignity, which also says it is considering whether to install the technology at its 46 crematoria.

In England in 2018 there were 437,628 cremations, accounting for about 80 per cent of deaths.