Combustible Corpses

By Jocelyn SelimOct 1, 2002 5:00 AM


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Heart pacemakers extend the lives of countless patients but can be surprisingly hazardous to others after death, says Christopher Gale, a research fellow at The General Infirmary at Leeds in England. The implants, which are typically hidden under layers of tissue, contain combustible chemicals that can suddenly explode if a body is cremated, injuring unsuspecting workers. Gale surveyed 241 British crematoriums; more than half reported pacemaker explosions, including blasts powerful enough to blow off oven doors and cause hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of damage. For safety's sake, Gale suggests that crematoriums should install metal detectors.

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