Aluminum occurs in the form of aluminum ions (Al3+) as a natural constituent in drinking water and other foods, especially in fruit and vegetables. It is taken up mainly via the food.

 

Aluminum-containing utensils for food storage or preparation such as kitchen utensils, cans or tins, foils or tubes from which the dissolved aluminum ions pass into the food may be additional sources of exposure. Moreover, aluminum compounds can be contained in gastric-acid neutralizers, so-called antacids, and in cosmetics and are used, for example, in roll-on deodorants due to their anti-perspirant effect.

Compared to the uptake via food or antacids, the uptake of aluminum via utensils for food storage or preparation and cosmetics is rather low and amounts to clearly less than the uptake quantity that is assumed not to pose any health hazard according to an updated evaluation issued by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA, 2006).

Occupational-health studies of specific stresses and exposure in the aluminum powder industry have shown that finest aluminum powder can cause pulmonary fibrosis under unfavorable industrial-hygiene conditions. In Germany, the resulting disease which is referred to as aluminosis has been approved as such and workers have been recompensed for the related health problems since 1943 [1,2].

The Senate Commission of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft has fixed the maximum admissible concentration (MAK-value) of aluminum oxides to amount to 1,5 mg/m3. Workers in the aluminum powder industry or welders in the automobile industry thus are required to wear suitable breathing protection.

 

So far, there is no scientific proof of a correlation between increased aluminum ion uptake from food including drinking water, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics and the Alzheimer’s disease. Neither in dialysis patients nor in aluminum workers – both belonging to the groups of persons that are definitely exposed – were the Alzheimer-typical amyloid depositions in the brain observed in extremely many cases [3].

 

Literature arrow down

  1. BAuA Schriftenreihe (1994). Arbeitsmedizinische Untersuchungen zur Belastung und Beanspruchung in der aluminiumpulverherstellenden Industrie. 1. Auflage. Bremerhaven: Wirtschaftsverlag NW Verlag für neue Wissenschaft GmbH 1994, ISBN: 3-89429-551-1.
  2. Kraus, T et al. (2000), Int Arch Occup Environ Health, 73(1): 61-64.
  3. BFR Opinion Nr.33/2007 (22.07.2007): „Keine Alzheimer-Gefahr durch Aluminium aus Bedarfsgegenständen“. (in German)

 

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