Aluminum in the Environment

Aluminum has no known function in the human body despite being abundant in nature. Aluminum is a neurotoxin and has been linked to “a spectrum of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s, ALS, and autism spectrum disorders. A now abundant literature shows that exposure of humans and animals to aluminum from various sources can have deleterious consequences on the developing and adult nervous system” (Shaw, 2013).

According to a 2007 study published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, high concentrations of aluminum found in the blood stream are associated with softening of the bones and encephalitis. Furthermore, aluminum “distributes” across the placenta to the fetus, into breast milk and hair, as well as all other “tissues and fluids” including the brain. Source

Who is most at risk?

Aluminum that gets into the body through the stomach and skin enters the blood stream, where it is usually removed by the kidneys pretty quickly. Those with poor kidney function are at greater risk for toxicity, along with infants under one year old and the elderly.

  • Food preservatives Aluminum can be found in many food items such as frozen pizza, waffles and pancakes, baking powder, cheese, ready make mixes, and baby formula as an anti-caking or color additive.

    It is important to read food labels, and avoid those with aluminum ingredients like acidic sodium aluminum phosphate and sodium aluminosilicate.

  • Vaccines Many vaccines contain aluminum as an adjuvant. An adjuvant is a substance that helps increase the body’s immune response to the vaccine.

    Some aluminum-containing vaccines are the Pneumococcal, DTaP, Hib, Hep A, Hep B, and HPV. This type of aluminum exposure can cause “allergic and abnormal autoimmune responses” (Shaw, 2013).

    If you choose to vaccinate, read the vaccine inserts for the list of ingredients prior to your doctor visit, and talk with your provider about the risks and benefits. see a list of vaccine inserts

  • Packaging and cookware Because aluminum is abundant and cheap, it is used in the manufacturing of food packaging, as well as pots and pans.
    If you have this type of cookware in your home, be careful of cracks in the coating. Also, avoid aluminum packaging like cans whenever possible.
  • Cosmetics Cosmetic products ranging from concealers and foundations, facial moisturizers, sunscreens, lipsticks and balms, deodorants, acne treatments, and nail polish can all contain aluminum that can be absorbed through your skin.

    Aluminum is used in cosmetics as a color to help makeup stay on longer and to keep skin from sweating. Aluminum powder in cosmetics has been linked to neurotoxicity, cancers, respiratory toxicity, immune-toxicity, asthma, bronchitis, lung cancer, pulmonary fibrosis, and dementia. 

    As you replace old cosmetics, do a little research to find the most natural or least toxic product. Also consider how often you wear these products and if it is worth the risk.

  • Antacids Antacids are commonly used to reduce heartburn, upset stomach, and indigestion and may contain aluminum, which acts to reduce the amount of acid secreted in your stomach. As with cosmetics, consider the safest options. Trying different food and lifestyle alternatives may help to reduce symptoms.
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