Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science


Physics and Astronomy

First Advisor

Michael Vineyard




cremation, environmental monitoring, emissions, aerosol, toxicology


Many crematoria have received concern from communities and the media about the health effects of the emissions released from cremations. In particular, many fear that Mercury, used in amalgam fillings, is emitted through this process. This experiment uses Particle Induced X‐Ray Emission (PIXE) analysis techniques to determine the elemental composition and concentration of aerosol particles collected by a PIXE International Cascade Impactor on the roof of the Vale Cemetery Crematorium located in Schenectady, NY. Particles, ranging from 0.06 ‐ 16 microns in size, were collected and analyzed using a 2‐MeV proton beam. A large range of elements from Sulfur to Bromine were found to be present, however there seemed to be only small traces of Mercury. The highest concentration of Mercury detected on the impaction foils was 86.6 ng/cm2. From this, we calculated the highest amount of Mercury in the air to be 1.165 ng/m3.