Bookmark and Share

Environment and Occupational - Aluminum

Aluminum shows up in nature and in industrial uses and is present in food additives, in vaccines, pharmaceuticals and drinking water. Research on risks of exposure to aluminum, apart from industrial uses, is needed in Canada to set regulations on healthy limits.

Aluminum is a natural element that makes up about 8% of the earth’s crust. Commercially, aluminum is used in several important ways including: as an agent in the purification of water at water treatment plants, in transport and construction (aluminum metal and alloys), in food additives (oxide), and in pharmaceuticals (hydroxide).  Most of us are mainly exposed to aluminum mainly through the food we consume and the water we drink. Heavy use of over-the-counter antacids and buffered aspirins, which contain aluminum, can also increase exposure.  Occupational exposure can also be considerable in certain jobs, including aluminum production and welding where aluminum particles are inhaled. Aluminum has been associated with several adverse human health effects including potential reproductive, neurological, and bone effects. A link to Alzheimer’s disease is one example of a possible neurological effect that scientists are continually examining and the media has publicized.  Studies have not shown a clear cause and effect relationship between eating foods cooked in aluminum pots and Alzheimer’s. In any case, people with kidney malfunctions (renal impairment) are of particular concern with respect to harmful health effects mainly because the kidneys filter aluminum from our bodies.  

An international panel of experts in the field reported in 2007 in a peer-review that more research about the health effects of aluminum exposures is necessary to support the development of regulatory standards.

Get Full Summary

Contributor: Nicole Boom

Last reviewed: June 2, 2010




Home             Links              Sitemap               Contact Us
© McLaughlin Centre for Population Health Risk Assessment