Handling of Human Remains – Response to SHB 1974

The Washington State Board of Health (Board) has the authority under RCW 43.20.050(2)(f) to adopt rules and standards for the prevention and control of infectious and noninfectious diseases. This includes rules about the receipt and transport of remains of deceased persons. Chapter 246-500 WAC is the rule that establishes standards for health and safety measures in the handling of human remains.

Public Hearing – June 12, 2024

In 2024, the Washington State Legislature passed Substitute House Bill (SHB) 1974 (Chapter 57, Laws 2024). This bill reduces the time from 90 days to 45 days in which a person or entity is required to remain in lawful possession of unclaimed human remains.  Additionally, SHB 1974 adds counties to the list of entities that may lawfully dispose of unclaimed human remains after 45 days.  

The Board’s rule references the holding period related to burial transfer permits for the disposition of remains reduced through cremation (WAC 246-500-050), alkaline hydrolysis (WAC 246-500-053), and natural organic reduction (WAC 246-500-055). Chapter 246-500 WAC also does not name counties in the list of entities that may lawfully possess, and therefore transfer, remains. The Board is conducting a rulemaking to align this chapter with the statute.

You may submit your comments on the proposed rule through the following ways:

  • Written comments are accepted through May 31, 2024, using the following options:
    1. Send to the Board’s public comment contact for this rulemaking proposal: Shay.Bauman@sboh.wa.gov
    2. Send via the U.S. Mail to:

      Washington State Board of Health
      PO Box 47990
      Olympia, WA 98504-7990 
  • Verbal comments will be accepted on June 12, 2024, during the rules hearing open to the public beginning at 1:30 p.m.
    1. You may give verbal comments in-person at the physical meeting location at:

      The Heathman Lodge (Chinook Klickitat Room)
      7801 NE Greenwood Drive
      Vancouver, WA 98662


    2. You may give verbal comments online by registering for the meeting via Zoom Webinar: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_vifXql9mSCGxcB06RcHI0Q

Please Note: The Board will review and consider all written comments received as part of the official rulemaking file. All written comments are shared publicly to the Boards website.

Important Information for the Rules Hearing:

  • You may attend the hearing in-person at the address listed above or virtually via Zoom.
  • To give verbal comments on Zoom, you will need to access the meeting using your computer, laptop, or device. Your computer, laptop, or device must have speakers and a microphone.

The rules hearing will have Spanish and ASL interpretation services provided.

Statutory Authority: RCW 43.20.050(2)(f) and RCW 34.05.310(4)(d)
State Board of Health Contact: Shay Bauman, Health Policy Advisor, 564-669-8929 Shay.Bauman@sboh.wa.gov