A £650,000 filter system is being installed at a crematorium to stop potentially harmful fumes entering the atmosphere.
The government has ordered all crematoria to halve the amount of harmful gases given off by cremations before 2013 — but Overdale Crematorium in Overdale Drive, Heaton, is going one better.
Bosses at the crematorium have asked Bolton Council for permission to install the new system which stops mercury — from dental fillings for example — and acid going into the atmosphere.
Exposure to high levels of mercury can damage the brain, nervous system and harm fertility.
Government figures show 16 per cent of mercury pollution in the UK is caused by crematoria.
The state-of-the-art system aiming to eradicate emissions works by transferring gases from the cremation to a water-cooled tank where a powder is added to turn them into a solid.
The mercury is then filtered out and stored in a sealed drum before it is disposed of under highly controlled conditions.
A Government scheme will pay for the new system in instalments once it is in place.
Bolton Council’s cleaner, greener, safer representative, Cllr Elaine Sherrington, said: “This is a fantastic idea. It is great that the crematorium is going for an eradication as opposed to just the required reduction.
“Anything to make people’s lives healthier in Bolton gets our support.”
Only two other crematoria, in Nottingham and Derby, have this system in place.
In order to make the changes, the crematorium needs the council’s permission to extend its yard area.
A Bolton Council spokesman said: “The new equipment will allow Overdale to meet the Government’s minimum requirements to reduce mercury emissions from national cremations by 50 per cent by January 2013.
“As well as meeting government targets, this will allow the crematorium to become more environmentally friendly.
“The cost of the installation, which commences in January 2012, is £650,000.”
The council is aiming to reach a decision by January 1.