Since Time immemorial, naturally
Aluminium is the most abundant metallic element and constitutes about eight per cent of the Earth’s crust. Aluminium is present in the form of extremely diverse chemical compounds in most common types of rock, soils, drinking water and flora. Aluminium is also present in all clay rocks and has thus been a component of ceramic cooking vessels since the dawn of civilisation. Since time immemorial the evolution of life and human civilisation have developed in an aluminium-rich environment. Aluminium is also present in traces in plant and animal tissue via the food chain.
In humans, aluminium can be found in every organ and in bones. The aluminium content is particularly high in the skin, the hair and the lungs. The aluminium content of the food of an average adult is between three and 12 milligrams a day depending on the person’s eating habits, although in special cases, where patients take aluminium-containing medication, it can exceed 1000 milligrams a day, usually in the form of aluminium hydroxide.
There are no known deleterious effects attributable to aluminium. Use in the fields of application mentioned above is recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Tableware and Packaging – Useful and Protective
Aluminium is widely used as foil, trays, cans and in other forms to store, preserve and prepare meals and drinks. A layer of aluminium oxide forms on the surface of aluminium in air and this is chemically stable over a pH range between 4.5 and 8.5; aluminium is thus predestined for storing the widest possible range of foodstuffs. In addition, aluminium cans for food and drink have a protective interior coating to prolong storage times. This polymer coating ensures that the acids and salts in the food and drink do not come into contact with the metal.
Compared with the natural intake via food (3-12 milligrams a day), the additional intake due to food being prepared using aluminium utensils or contact with aluminium foil of beverage cans is negligibly small and is usually about 0.1 milligrams a day.
Aluminium – in the Service of Health
Aluminium preparations are used on a large scale in medicine. Aluminium hydroxide is the most widely used aluminium compound. It is used as an antacid to treat gastric ulcers and as a phosphate puffer in cases of chronic renal deficiency. Aluminium oxide compounds are also used as filler material for cavities in teeth.
Aluminium compounds are also found in deodorants, toothpaste and disinfectants. Aluminium preparations do not pose a health risk. On the contrary, aluminium preparations contribute towards recovery and well-being. Alternative preparations are inferior to aluminium compounds.
Our drinking Water – treated using Aluminium
Aluminium is a natural constituent of surface and groundwater. Most waterworks worldwide use aluminium sulphate for drinking-water treatment. Flocculants are used to aggregate the small inorganic particles present in the water, as well as bacteria and other organisms that are a potential risk for humans, and then filter them out.
Without the use of aluminium, water is often undrinkable because of the high content of natural substances or pathogens present. The WHO gives no health-relevant criteria for evaluating aluminium contents in drinking water.