Formaldehyde used in embalming is harmful because it is considered a carcinogen and was classified as such by the World Health Organization (WHO). A traditional burial uses embalming, which requires formaldehyde to be used in order to preserve the body for more than two or three days. In spite of the fact that formaldehyde is a carcinogen, the American funeral industry uses enough of it to fill eight Olympic-size swimming pools per year [source: Corley].
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