Is Aluminum Safe to Use?

Is aluminum dangerous

Aluminum is a misunderstood and controversial substance in the natural health community. Some claim it is safe while other sources report that even tiny amounts in baking powder can be harmful. So what is the real story?

Note: This is a long and very science heavy post. Aluminum is a controversial substance and the science is inconclusive, so I tend to avoid it whenever possible. If you’re not interested in the scientific studies surrounding it, skip to the bottom to learn some practical tips on how you can avoid it.

What is Aluminum?

Aluminum is a metal we are all familiar with and a common substance in our daily lives (aluminum foil is one of the most used kitchen items). We find it in household items, vaccines, medications, color pigments, paints, explosives, propellants, and fuel additives. Its oxides are used in household materials and products like ceramics, paper, light bulbs, glass, and heat resistant fibers.

In food, its compounds are used in anti-caking agents, coloring agents, emulsifiers, baking powder (but NOT baking soda), and sometimes soy-based infant formula. (3)

It is important to note that while it is naturally occurring, the body has no need for it (unlike vitamins, minerals and trace minerals). In animal studies, exposure is linked to “behavioral, neuropathological and neurochemical changes.”

In the Environment

Aluminum is the most plentiful metal found in the Earth’s crust, making up about 8% of the Earth’s surface.

Because it is a very reactive element it is never found as a free metal in nature. Instead, it is always bound to other elements such as fluorine, silicon, and oxygen. These compounds are found in soils, rocks, clays, and minerals like sapphires, rubies, and turquoise! It can bind to particles in the air, dissolve in fresh water, and some plants can take it up via the soil. (1, 2, 7)

Human activity increases the concentration of aluminum in our environment. Acid rain can mobilize it from the soil into water, and various industries release its compounds into our air. High environmental concentrations of aluminum can be caused by nearby mines or industries which process and produce aluminum metal, alloys and compounds. Coal power plants and incinerates can also release small amounts of aluminum into the environment. (3, 7)

Typical Exposure

The average adult in the US ingests about 7-9 mg  per day via their food. Whole foods like meat, vegetables and fruits may naturally contain small amounts of this metal since it is a naturally occurring element. Other aluminum compounds may be added to more processed foods in the forms of baking powder, anti caking agents, and coloring agents. (2, 7)

Humans can also be exposed via inhalation and dermal absorption. However, only very small amounts of what we ingest, inhale, or absorb through skin will enter the bloodstream. (2, 7)

It’s estimated that 0.1% to 0.3% of aluminum is absorbed (bioavailable) from the diet, while 0.3% is absorbed via water. Bioavailability is increased when it is ingested with something acidic (like tomato products cooked in an aluminum pan). If not eliminated via the kidneys, it will store in the bones, lungs, muscle, liver and brain. (3)

Toxic Exposure

This is where aluminum gets controversial. While the toxicity is well acknowledged, the debate continues about what levels are considered safe. Most often, acute toxicity is seen in either those who are exposed via their occupational or living environment, or in people who are at risk because they must undergo certain medical treatments.

After contaminated workplaces, living environment, and medical treatments, the next most common source of over exposure is from chronic use of aluminum containing antacids, buffered aspirin, contaminated food, and drinking water. Many health experts counter that the true dangers are seen over a longer period of time and that many studies don’t follow up long enough to reveal long term effects. (3)

Lifestyle Factors Which Can Lead to Overexposure:

  1. Working in an environment with aluminum dust
  2.  Living in high aluminum areas
    – Places near aluminum mines and processing plants (1)
    – Living near hazardous waste sites (1)
    – Living where it is naturally high in the soil (1)
  3. Drinking or ingesting substances that contain it
    – Often, this comes from chronic antacid use (3)

Health Conditions Which Can Increase Toxicity

Some health conditions make certain individuals more susceptible to aluminum toxicity. Those with reduced kidney function who must receive long term dialysis are exposed to the metal through the dialysate fluid or other medical sources. (3)

However, the incidence of this has declined in recent years with the use of uncontaminated fluid. Even without the contamination from dialysis, since more than 95% of aluminum is eliminated by the kidney, people with poor kidney function are more likely to store it in their bodies. (3,2)

Symptoms of Toxicity

Acute exposure can result in symptoms like: (1)

  • confusion
  • muscle weakness
  • bone pain, bone deformities, and fractures
  • seizures
  • speech problems
  • slow growth in children

Diseases of Toxicity

Though medicine often downplays the danger of low-dose aluminum exposure, there is evidence about the dangers of long-term exposure. Known long-term effects of consistent exposure include:

1. Bone Diseases

The evidence is clear, “sustained exposure to high levels of aluminum can cause bone abnormalities.” The metal is deposited at sites of new bone growth. (3)

If aluminum in the body is not properly eliminated by the kidneys or bile, 60%  is stored in bone tissue. Increased bone weakness and brittleness are seen in animals exposed to aluminum. These effects can be exacerbated by deficiencies in calcium or magnesium. (3)

Toxicity also leads to the suppression of parathyroid hormone, which regulates calcium homeostasis. In dialysis patients, high levels of serum aluminum (greater than 30 micrograms per liter) have been associated with osteomalacia, softening of the bones, and other related disorders. (3)

2. Nervous System Problems

These problems manifest as difficulty carrying out voluntary and involuntary actions and have a significant correlation to occupational exposure. So called “neuropsychiatric symptoms” include loss of coordination, memory loss, and problems with balance. (3)

3. Brain Diseases and Disorders

Research done on animals, and dialysis patients, make it clear that high levels of aluminum in the CNS can lead to neurotoxicity. In dialysis patients, concentrations of greater than 80 micrograms per liter plasma aluminum, have been associated with encephalopathy (any brain disease that alters brain function or structure).

When exposure comes from I.V. injection 0.001% to 0.01% of the dose enters each gram of the brain. Even with this data, it has been difficult to access what concentration of serum aluminum correlates with brain damage. (3)

4. Respiratory Problems

People who breathe in large amounts of aluminum dusts may develop respiratory problems, such as coughing or abnormal chest x-rays. Most people who develop respiratory illnesses from aluminum do so because their workplaces have high amounts of this dust. (2, 3)

In aluminum industry employees, the most well researched respiratory effect is called Potroom Asthma. The common symptoms of this disorder are wheezing, dyspnea (labored breathing), and impaired lung function. (3)

Other changes seen after occupational exposure are: “alveolar proteinosis and wall thickening, diffuse pulmonary fibrosis, and interstitial emphysema,” along with some nodule formation. Exposure may also contribute to Shaver’s disease, which is a pulmonary fibrosis seen in workers exposed to fine aluminum powders. (3)

5. Impaired Iron Absorption

Aluminum may negatively affect hematopoiesis, the body’s process of creating new red blood cells, especially in persons with an underlying iron deficiency. Interference with the metabolism of other metals has been noted, especially an increased excretion of phosphorous. (3)

Other Possible Health Effects

These are the areas where aluminum exposure gets controversial and there is quite a bit of evidence supporting its possible link to these conditions, though more research is definitely needed.

Alzheimer’s Disease

You may have heard that you should avoid aluminum because it can cause Alzheimer’s Disease. However, the research has come to mixed conclusions.

Before I get into the research results, it’s important to understand how this disease affects the brain.

Alzheimer’s disease, or AD, disrupts metabolic processes that are critical in keeping neurons (brain cells) healthy. These disruptions cause neurons in the brain to stop working properly, lose connections with other cells, and then die.

The death of brain cells is what causes the hallmark symptoms of this terrible disease: memory loss, changes in personality, and the inability to carry out daily tasks. While there is still a lot to be understood about Alzheimer’s Disease, research has identified two abnormal structures in the brains of those with AD: amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. (4)

Amyloid plaques, first described by Dr. Alois Alzheimer in 1906, consist mainly of insoluble deposits of a toxic protein peptide called beta-amyloid. They are found in the synapses, or spaces between neurons. There is still a lot to be learned about these plaques. It is still unknown whether they directly cause the disease, or if they are a symptom of the disease’s process.

Neurofibrillary tangles are collections of abnormally twisted protein strands found inside nerve cells, and they are primarily made up of a protein called tau. The tangles damage the ability of the neurons to communicate with one another. The next major feature of AD is the loss of connections between neurons. The inhibition of intercellular communication can damage the brain cells and cause them to die off. (4)

As neurons die, the affected regions began to atrophy, and the brain begins to shrink, eventually resulting in death.

Aluminum’s Role in Alzheimer’s

Some studies show that exposure to high levels of the metal do correlate with increased rates of Alzheimer’s disease, while others show no correlation. Exposure from drinking water has been extensively investigated, yet the data is difficult to interpret because of the variety of study designs, and their range of quality. (2, 3)

Still the majority of epidemiological studies have reported a positive association between aluminum levels in drinking water and the risk of AD. This means that when concentrations rose, so did the number of cases of Alzheimer’s. (3)

Research conducted on brain samples have reported that the concentration of aluminum was higher in the overall brain samples, neurofibrillary tangles, and plaques from subjects with Alzheimer’s disease, than the controls. (3)

There are studies which suggest that it has a more indirect role in causing AD. It may amplify conditions and promote mechanisms which have a negative effect by “synergistically” worsening cognitive abilities in Alzheimer’s patients. (3)

One example is that direct injection of aluminum has been shown to increase markers of oxidative stress in animal studies. In animal studies it seems that it may affect levels of cholesterol, which may serve as a potential modulator of Alzheimer-type amyloid formation. (3)

It could increase the aggregation of molecules known to form lesions in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. One study noted that mice fed diets high in aluminum showed increased levels of amyloid. There is also evidence that it promotes the aggregation of B amyloid peptide in mice (3)

In rabbits, it is well established that exposure to the metal causes the formation of filamentous structures containing cytoplasmic neurofilament protein which would promote the formation of neurofilibary tangles. Even so, in several studies where rats and mice were exposed to very high levels of aluminum, the rodents did not show “profound” cognitive impairment. (3)

In short, this is one area that certainly needs more research, but since the body doesn’t have a physiological need for this metal and there may be a link, it may be worth avoiding until more research can be done.

Human Reproduction

The evidence is unclear about the effect of aluminum on reproduction, though some animal studies have pointed to an effect on offspring.

When administered orally, it did not seem to affect reproductive capacity in either male or females. Exposure during gestation didn’t affect maternal health or development of the fetuses and neonates.

However, large amounts have been shown to delay the skeletal and neurological development of unborn and developing animals. In one study conducted in mice, neurobehavioral abnormalities were seen in offspring whose mothers were given aluminum during gestation and lactation. (2, 3)

Aluminum is found is breast milk, but only a small amount will enter the infant’s body via breastfeeding. Typical concentrations in human breast milk range from 0.0092 to 0.049 mg/L. (7) It can also be found in soy-based infant formula (0.46–0.93 mg/L) and milk-based infant formula (0.058–0.15 mg/L). (7)

Aluminum concentration chart

Cancer

This is another controversial topic when it comes to aluminum exposure.

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have not evaluated the carcinogenic potential in humans, and while it has not conclusively caused cancer in animal studies, some human studies have suggested a possible link between aluminum and breast cancer. (2,3)

Aluminum has been classified as carcinogenic to humans by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). (3)

From WebMD:

A few studies in recent years have theorized that aluminum-based antiperspirants may increase the risk for breast cancer.

According to the authors of these studies, most breast cancers develop in the upper outer part of the breast — the area closest to the armpit, which is where antiperspirants are applied. The studies suggest that chemicals in antiperspirants, including aluminum, are absorbed into the skin, particularly when the skin is nicked during shaving. These studies claim that those chemicals may then interact with DNA and lead to cancerous changes in cells, or interfere with the action of the female hormone estrogen, which is known to influence the growth of breast cancer cells.

Though the direct action of aluminum and its role in breast cancer is not yet definitive or completely understood, it is used as a way to keep the body from perspiring, which may have other negative health consequences, as sweating is a natural process of elimination for the body.

Oxidative Damage

There is also evidence that aluminum creates oxidative stress in the body, which may also increase rates of cancers for this reason. The same negative oxidative effect has been demonstrated in skin cells, and breast cells. This doesn’t prove that it is a cause of cancer but certainly suggests that it is problematic enough to warrant further research and concern.

Aluminum can also bio-accumulate, especially in the brain and substitute for minerals like calcium, magnesium and iron, leading to deficiencies of these minerals.

Items to Avoid

Again, aluminum is a controversial substance and one that hasn’t been extensively studied in long-term human toxicity. At the same time, it isn’t necessary for the body and avoiding it won’t cause any harm, so it is a substance that I personally avoid as much as possible.

If you are concerned and want to avoid aluminum exposure, watch out for these consumer products:

Antacids

Antacids contain 300-600 mg aluminum hydroxide, which translates to 104-208 mg of aluminum per tablet, capsule or 5mL liquid dose. While little of it will be absorbed it may be a concern for those already experiencing high exposures of the metal or those wishing to avoid it completely. (7)

If a person must take antacids, it is helpful to wait some time before eating anything sour or acidic, such as citrus and tomatoes. Acids make it easier to absorb the aluminum found in antacids. Those who take antacids daily may be experiencing low stomach acid, instead of high stomach acid. (3)

Buffered Aspirin

One tablet of buffered aspirin may contain 10-20 mg of aluminum. (7)

Food Additives

Baking powders often utilize sodium aluminum phosphate or sodium aluminum phosphate as a leavening agent. (9)

To avoid, you can make your own using baking soda, arrowroot and cream of tartar.

It is also important to note that baking soda does NOT contain aluminum, though there is definitely confusion about this on the internet. “Aluminum Free” is often used as a marketing term on baking soda packaging, but manufacturers acknowledge that baking soda does not contain this metal and that this is just a marketing ploy.

Cosmetics

Aluminum powder is used as a colorant in many cosmetics but mainly in nail polish, eye shadow, eye liner, and lip gloss. It may be listed in the ingredients as: Aluminum, aluminum flake, LB Pigment 5, Pigment Metal 1, A 00, A 95, A 995, A 999, AA 1099, or AA 1199. (5)

Antiperspirants

Aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex glycine is the form of aluminum used in antiperspirants. It is restricted in Canada. (6) As a simple natural alternative, make your own homemade deodorant with this recipe. (Note: Even “natural” deodorants like crystal deodorants can contain aluminum.)

Sunscreen

Many sunscreens, and makeup foundations with sunscreen use aluminum hydroxide as an opacifying agent, skin protectant, and cosmetic colorant. While the Environmental Working Group gives this chemical its lowest hazard score, in Canada it is classified as “expected to be toxic or harmful.” If you’re concerned, make your own sunscreen, use an aluminum-free pre-made version, or use physical measures like hats and shirts to avoid burning. (8)

Cookware

It is also used in many types of kitchen products and cookware. I make sure to use safe cookware that doesn’t contain teflon or aluminum. This post has a list of my favorite cookware.

Kitchen Products

Aluminum is also present in many other kitchen products like foil, canned goods, water bottles, drink pouches, and tin storage dishes. Research shows that it transfers into food, especially when foods are heated in foil or containers or come into contact with it while hot. Some sources claim that foil is safe for storing cold foods, but I still prefer to avoid it.

Thankfully there are easy substitutes:

Testing and Regulation

The best way to predict the “aluminum body burden” is to test bone tissue. A blood test is the next best test to access long term exposure, while a urine test is useful to assess if a person has been recently exposed. Another way to test, is to analyze a hair sample, but its value in indicated overall toxicity has not been demonstrated. (3)

Government Regulations

Aluminum is currently regulated in food, water and consumer products, though not as tightly in the US as in many other countries.

Drinking water

The Environmental Protection Agency has recommended that a “Secondary Maximum Contaminant Level” or SMCL of 0.05-0.2 mg/L be set for aluminum in drinking water. However this concentration is based on taste, smell, and color; not on if the level will affect the health of humans or animals. (7)

Consumer products

The FDA has determined that the aluminum in food additives and medicinals (aspirin and antacids) is “generally safe”. It has however set a limit for bottled water of 0.2mg/L. (7)

Workplace Air

OSHA has set a legal limit for aluminum in dusts (averaged over an 8 hour work day) for 15 mg/m3 (milligram/cubic meter) total dust.

So, Is Aluminum Safe?

Based on this research, I consider aluminum to be a concern. It’s another reason why I am glad I eat unprocessed whole foods and stick to all natural beauty products. Some sources say it is fine, but there is also a body of evidence suggesting it may not be.

Sources:

1. Mount Sinai Hospital. “Aluminum Toxicity (Aluminum Poisoning).”
2. Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry. “Toxic Substances Portal: Aluminum”. 12 March 2015.
3. Krewski, D., Yorkel, R. A., Nieboer, E., Borchelt, D., Cohen, J., Harry, J., .. Rondeau, V. “Human Health Risk Assessment for Aluminum, Aluminum Oxide, and Aluminum Hydroxide.” 2007. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health. Part B, Critical Reviews, 10 (Suppl 1), 1-269.
4. National Institute on Aging. “Alzheimer’s Disease: Unraveling the Mystery.”
5. Environmental Working Group. “Aluminum Powder.”
6. Environmental Working Group. “Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohyrex Glycine Complex.”
7. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Division of Toxicology and Environmental Medicine. “Public Health Statement for Aluminum.
8. Environmental Working Group. “Aluminum Hydroxide.”
9. Environmental Working Group. “EWG’s Dirty Dozen Guide to Food Additives: Food Additive Watch List.”

Since we still need more research to determine how it affects brain health, I prefer to avoid it. What do you think?

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Reader Comments

  1. Thank you for this clear and informative information. I have long had a question about aluminum and am hoping you can help. I have a Berkey water filter including the add-on filter that rids the water of fluoride. These filters use “aluminum oxide or alumina” to filter the water.

    Am I getting rid of one toxic substance by replacing it with another? Any thouhts?

    • From my understanding, the aluminum is bound in the filter and attracts fluoride without releasing either one into the filtered water.

      • Thanks. My wonderful holistic dentist keeps telling me to avoid fluoride. You put my fears to rest. As always, your efforts are appreciated beyond words.

    • Good question and glad to see there’s a response to it.

  2. There were a lot of “are you serious?” moments in this post for me. I had no idea aluminum could be found in so many places! Thank you for linking to suggestions and alternative products we can choose if we decide we want to avoid aluminum. I’ve avoided the stuff since I moved out of my parent’s house and refuse to buy it ever again. The science behind it all is just too damning. Thanks for another great post, Katie!

  3. I thought I was being healthy by making my own deodorant. Since I used regular baking soda from the store should I toss it? I see baking soda doesn’t contain aluminum, but then why make my own?

    • Baking soda does not contain aluminum. Baking powder does contain it (which is why you would make your own). Baking soda (which doesn’t contain aluminum) is used in the deodorant so it should be fine. Baking powder and antiperspirants do contain it.

  4. I have often wondered about this when I cook large batches of soup in my pressure cooker. I usually put in a little bit of vinegar to pull the minerals out of the bones and wonder how much aluminum I am adding to my soup by doing this. Do you know of any affordable alternatives or do I just not worry about this one exposure?

    • I personally avoid all cookware with aluminum, but have an Instant Pot (http://amzn.to/1S6WbDH) which has a stainless steel interior and works wonderfully.

  5. Are you familiar with Dr. Sear’s Vaccine book? In it, he describes a healthy premature baby who was thriving, on saline, had received no vaccines (which contain Al as adjuvant), and died unexpectedly. An autopsy was performed, and it revealed high levels of Al in the baby’s brain. Evidently, saline has a great deal of Aluminum in it too. For a small infant or child whose blood brain barrier and/or kidneys can’t support a great deal of Al, it is a grave concern. Have you researched or given this any thought?

    That information was one of the most concerning things to me when considering the numerous vaccines recommended to our children. From his book, it did not appear that it was being studied extensively.

    • Aluminum is definitely more of a concern in younger children and babies for those exact reasons and you are right… not enough research has been done on this aspect of exposure.

  6. Couldn’t resist – searched on it and here’s Dr. Sear’s post. This is really scary. Basically says we’re greatly exceeding the amount of Al a baby can safely accept with each injection not to mention that lots of these are given at once:

    http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/health-concerns/vaccines/vaccine-faqs
    From Dr. Sear’s website:
    “Babies with healthy kidneys could probably handle a lot more than this, but we at least know they could handle this amount. However, these documents don’t tell us what the maximum safe dose would be for a health baby or child. And I can’t find such information anywhere. This is probably why the A.S.P.E.N. group suggests, and the FDA requires, that all injectable solutions have the 25 mcg limit, since we at least know that is safe.

    But wait. You are probably thumbing back through the book right now to see exactly how much aluminum was in each vaccine. Put your thumb away. At the risk of being repetitive I’ll just list it right here again:

    Hib (PedVaxHib brand only) – 225 micrograms per shot.
    Hepatitis B – 250 micrograms.
    DTaP – depending on the manufacturer, ranges from 170 to 625 micrograms.
    Pneumococcus – 125 micrograms.
    Hepatitis A – 250 micrograms.
    HPV – 225 micrograms.
    Pentacel (DTaP, HIB and Polio combo vaccine) – 330 micrograms.
    Pediarix (DTaP, Hep B and Polio combo vaccine) – 850 micrograms.

    OK, I’ll do the math for you. A newborn who gets a Hepatitis B injection on day one of life would get 250 micrograms of aluminum. This would be repeated at one month of age with the next Hep B shot. When a baby gets the first big round of shots at 2 months, the total dose of aluminum can vary from 295 micrograms (if a non-aluminum HIB and the lowest aluminum brand of DTaP is used) to a whopping 1225 micrograms if the highest aluminum brands are used and Hep B vaccine is also given. These doses are repeated at 4 and 6 months. A child would continue to get some aluminum throughout the first 2 years with most rounds of shots.

    Just to remind you, the FDA feels that premature babies and any patient with impaired kidney function shouldn’t get more than 10 to 25 micrograms of injected aluminum at any one time.

    As a medical doctor, my first instinct is to worry that these aluminum levels far exceed what may be safe for young babies. But then my second instinct is to assume that this issue has been researched and that studies have been done on healthy infants to determine their ability to excrete aluminum rapidly. My third instinct is to go looking for these studies, and so far I have not been able to find any. It is likely that the FDA feels the kidneys of healthy infants work well enough to excrete this aluminum rapidly before it can circulate through the body, accumulate in the brain, and cause toxic effects. However, I can’t find any references in the FDA documents that show that using aluminum in vaccines has been tested in human infants and found to be safe.

    So I did what any pediatrician would do. I turned to the American Academy of Pediatrics. They published a policy in 1996 called Aluminum Toxicity in Infants and Children (See Resource 5). Here are several keys items I found in this paper:

    Aluminum can cause neurologic harm.
    A study from 30 years ago showed that human adults will increase their urine excretion of aluminum when exposed to higher levels (suggesting adults can clear out excess aluminum).
    Adults taking aluminum-containing antacids don’t build up high levels in their body.
    There have been reports of infants with healthy kidneys showing elevated blood levels of aluminum from taking antacids.
    The AAP found that people with kidney disease who build up levels of aluminum greater than 100 micrograms per liter in their bloodstream are at risk of toxicity.
    The AAP also states that the toxic threshold may be lower than this.
    The paper states that aluminum loading (meaning tissue build up) has been seen even in patients with healthy kidneys who receive IV solutions containing aluminum over extended periods.

    Completely absent from this paper was any mention whatsoever of aluminum in vaccines.”

    -Scary

    • Thank you for this comment, Tania.

      I highly recommend Suzanne Humphries’ “Trojan Horses and Clusterbombs” on youtube for a thorough discussion (including many PubMed references) on aluminum in vaccines.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWP6e2CYPo8

      Injection is very different from inhalation and ingestion, and this post is radically incomplete if you leave out how much aluminum is injected through vaccines!!!

      Katie, I am so grateful for all the work you do. You are so thorough, and I cannot imagine you missed this piece. I totally respect your privacy around the vaccine status of your family, but I would be very disappointed if your choice to exclude discussion of such a huge aluminum exposure in a post on aluminum was made just to avoid the subject of vaccines altogether.

      • Jess, as I mentioned in a prior comment, the aluminum and vaccine issue warrants it’s own blog post, as this one is already over 3000 words, and to dive into all the specifics surrounding it would probably double the length of this one…

  7. Wow, what a great post. I do not use aluminum cookware. Then I realized I use Reynolds non-stick aluminum. How unsafe can this be using about once a week? Brad

  8. Other sources of aluminum – vaccines.

    Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry (JIB-08876)

    Do aluminum vaccine adjuvants contribute to the rising prevalence of autism?

    Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are serious multisystem developmental disorders and an urgent global public health concern. Dysfunctional immunity and impaired brain function are core deficits in ASD. Aluminum (Al), the most commonly used vaccine adjuvant, is a demonstrated neurotoxin and a strong immune stimulator. Hence, adjuvant Al has the potential to induce neuroimmune disorders. When assessing adjuvant toxicity in children, two key points ought to be considered: (i) children should not be viewed as “small adults” as their unique physiology makes them much more vulnerable to toxic insults; and (ii) if exposure to Al from only few vaccines can lead to cognitive impairment and autoimmunity in adults, is it unreasonable to question whether the current pediatric schedules, often containing 18 Al adjuvanted vaccines, are safe for children? By applying Hill’s criteria for establishing causality between exposure and outcome we investigated whether exposure to Al from vaccines could be contributing to the rise in ASD prevalence in the Western world. Our results show that: (i) children from countries with the highest ASD prevalence appear to have the highest exposure to Al from vaccines; (ii) the increase in exposure to Al adjuvants significantly correlates with the increase in ASD prevalence in the United States observed over the last two decades (Pearson r=0.92, pb0.0001); and (iii) a significant correlation exists between the amounts of Al administered to preschool children and the current prevalence of ASD in seven Western countries, particularly at 3–4 months of age (Pearson r=0.89–0.94, p=0.0018–0.0248). The application of the Hill’s criteria to these data indicates that the correlation between Al in vaccines and ASD may be causal. Because children represent a fraction of the population most at risk for complications following exposure to Al, a more rigorous evaluation of Al adjuvant safety seems warranted.

  9. I have often wondered about cooking with aluminum foil so this is a great post. I bought those silicone liners for my baking sheets but I’m sure those are just as controversial. Hmmm I’ll keep searching your posts. Thanks for the always helpful info!

    • you can use parchment paper…it works great!

      • all parchment paper that I have found is coated in either silicone or PFOAs.

  10. Hi,

    Do you think it’s okay to eat sardines and canned salmon (Vital Choice Seafood) in cans?

    Thanks!

    • I’d check, but I’m pretty sure that Vital Choice has a safe lining to protect the seafood from touching the aluminum

  11. Thank you for writing this post in a fashion that is reasonable and not filled with emotion. As a reader, I appreciate a level headed approach to such topics that can be highly sensationalized.

  12. This is a great post, but I feel it is lacking when it comes to vaccines. It seems as though it was deliberately left out. I get that it’s a controversial topic, but I don’t feel like a post on aluminum is complete without mention of it in so many vaccines.

    • I mention it at the beginning of the article, but that issue is so nuanced that I would need to write an entire post about it (which I may do in the future).

      • I appreciate the response.

  13. What about using aluminum pans for baking?

  14. What alternatives are there to using aluminum foil to cover casseroles/dishes while baking? I’ve long hated throwing it away after using it (more because it hardly gets dirty or used, not knowing the concern of using it) but have never known what to replace it with. Thoughts?

    • If I have to bake something covered, I try to use a dish like this one http://amzn.to/1Zi2yXI or even a large roasting pan with a lid. These also double for storage, so they can be re-heated easily.

  15. I had read the WebMD write-up on aluminum-based antiperspirants a while back when I was doing some of my own research on the issue.

    That article (available here: http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/features/antiperspirant-facts-safety) concludes as follows:

    “Like many other people, you may have wondered: Is the produce I’ve been applying to my body every day for years really putting my health at risk? WebMD put the question to several experts, and discovered that the rumors about antiperspirants don’t stand up to the science.”

    As you point out, the article does reference some studies that theorize that aluminum-based antiperspirants may increase the risk for cancer. But the article says this about the studies:

    “Yet experts say the claims don’t hold up to scrutiny. “There is no convincing evidence that antiperspirant or deodorant use increases cancer risk,” Ted S. Gansler, MD, MBA, director of medical content for the American Cancer Society, said in an e-mail interview.

    Gansler says many of the studies that have been conducted were flawed, and even though a few detected chemicals from antiperspirants in breast tissue, they didn’t prove that those chemicals had any effect on breast cancer risk. In fact, one well-designed study comparing hundreds of breast cancer survivors with healthy women, as well as a review of all available studies on the subject, found no evidence that antiperspirants increase the risk of breast cancer.

    Worrying about antiperspirants shouldn’t distract women from addressing the real breast cancer risks, Ganglier says, especially the ones they can control, like eating healthy, getting regular exercise, and limiting alcohol.”

    This is only one small piece of a larger conversation, but it is a piece worth highlighting and provides additional context when people are looking at this issue.

    • Peculiar rebuttal, it starts by saying the “experts say the claims don’t hold up to scrutiny” but then goes on to quote one person who is the director of medical content for the American Cancer Society – is there perhaps a multibillion dollar conflict of interests at play here? Absolutely. This is like the director of the CDC claiming that vaccines are “perfectly healthy” when we have examples like this – http://www.charlotteobserver.com/living/health-family/article11620775.html

  16. I appreciate your balanced approach, and the time you took to research this and write it clearly. Thanks!

  17. I have been giving our kids a colloidal mineral supplement from a well respected health figure. I was surprised to see aluminium in the ingredients list. Maybe as a natural occurring ingredient the aluminium is present along with all of the other minerals. Would you be concerned about this Katie?

  18. Informative, thanks. Who knew you could write such lengthy comments.

  19. So far I was of the opinion that aluminium is used as cooking utensils and in the form of foils. But never knew it exists in so many products used by us on daily basis. Need to be cautious from now on. Thanks for the post.

  20. Your blog has changed my life and that of my husbands. Thank you so much! Taking the time to research and inform others is a huge responsibility. Giving others an opportunity to make better health decisions and understanding of what can be harmful to us all. I didn’t come across anything mentioned about stone wear. Your thoughts on that would be great.
    Thank you.

  21. Sorry about that. Must have missed that section some how.
    Thank you

  22. Test the rainwater and see, fallout from geoengineering containing nanopartiulates of aluminum and other heavy metals are in there creating a synergistic effect 100x’s worse when combined: eg Aluminium and mercury from vaccines or amalgam fillings. Volvic mineral water has silicon and helps remove aluminium.

  23. If the aluminum is bad, which I believe it is why is mommypotipmus laying her fabric on tin foil to make lunch wraps etc,?

    Thank you,

  24. In the early 70s I was fortunate to see an orthomolecular physician, Dr Micheal Lesser, for a few years. One thing he informed me of I’ll never forget: When Alzheimers victims’ brains are autopsied, aluminum is consistently found entangled in the neuronal structure.

  25. Do you have any information on aluminized stainless steel? Or Americoat – a silicone that is PTFE, PFOA and BPA free? (Curious because I’ve been searching for a USA made stainless steel cookie sheet, but I keep finding “aluminized stainless steel” items).

    • Also curious about the safety of the Aluminized Steel.

  26. I avoid aluminum as much as I can, but we camp a lot and foil has been very handy when cooking over the fire to make foil packet dinners… I often throw some potatoes or veggies or even fish into a foil packet to cook it over the fire. This is the one use that I can’t think of an alternative for.. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you

    • Not quite as convenient, but a cast iron dutch oven can often accomplish the same thing

  27. Hi, you didn’t mention autism by name. I think it is worth noting that the aluminum in vaccines which causes some of the symptoms you described above are actually some of the same symptoms in autism.