Aluminum In Consumer Products

Table of contents:

Aluminum In Consumer Products
Aluminum In Consumer Products

Video: Aluminum In Consumer Products

Video: Aluminum In Consumer Products
Video: Is aluminum better than plastic? It’s complicated. 2023, March

Aluminum in consumer products

Aluminum has become an integral part of our lives. The light metal is used, for example, as a material in the construction industry, in vehicle and aircraft construction or as a packaging material. However, aluminum is also used in small quantities for so-called "body-hugging applications", for example in the form of additives for food, in cosmetics such as deodorants or in drugs against heartburn.


  • Continue reading
  • more on the subject
  • Advice, downloads & tools
  • Aluminum in food
  • Aluminum in cosmetics
  • Aluminum in medicines
  • Aluminum in nanoform
  • Effects on the body
  • Problematic long-term exposure
  • Avoid aluminum as a precaution
  • Recommendations for everyday life

A scientific study entitled "Aluminum toxicology and health aspects of body-related applications" (June 2014) describes various uses of aluminum in everyday products and summarizes possible health effects based on the current data.

Aluminum in food

Small amounts of aluminum can be found in food. A very small proportion of them come from natural sources. The proportions from artificial sources are more significant:

Aluminum- containing additives that are added to the food during production: In the EU, both aluminum and aluminum compounds are permitted as food additives, e.g. as coloring agents, setting agents, release agents, raising agents or carriers for coloring agents. Aluminum-based food additives can make a significant contribution to the exposure of the body to aluminum. For this reason, steps have already been taken under EU law to restrict the permitted areas of use and quantities of such additives

Note EU food law requires that food additives are listed on the product packaging. A list of the aluminum-containing food additives approved in the EU can be found in the aluminum study by the Ministry of Health on page 30.

Aluminum from food contact materials that gets into the food through contact with cookware or packaging materials: Aluminum is used for pans, cookware, coffee pots, food packaging and beverage cans. Direct food contact is usually prevented by a coating. If it comes into contact with acidic foods and fruit juices, small amounts of aluminum can migrate into the food during longer preparation times

Aluminum in cosmetics

Aluminum and its compounds are used in a wide variety of cosmetics product groups, for example in eye shadow, nail polish, eyeliners, hair colors, skin creams, lip glosses, shampoos, shower gels, sunscreens and toothpastes. In higher concentrations, aluminum chloride and aluminum chlorohydrate are used in deodorants and antiperspirants because of their antiperspirant properties.

Aluminum compounds from cosmetic agents can penetrate the skin, especially if the skin is injured, for example as a result of shaving. Aluminum can be transported to various organs via the bloodstream or can be deposited locally in tissue.

Aluminum in medicines

Some over-the-counter medicines for heartburn and stomach upsets (antacids) contain aluminum compounds. If the maximum recommended daily dose is taken, the daily aluminum intake can increase to up to 5,000 mg, depending on the preparation.

Aluminum in nanoform

Aluminum oxide in nanoform is used in a number of products, for example as an additive to paints, for scratch-resistant coatings, in plastic packaging or as a filter. There are indications that nano-alumina in water promotes the transfer of antibiotic resistance genes between species of bacteria, which is why a release into the environment should be avoided as a precaution.

Effects on the body

Aluminum enters the body mainly through the digestive tract, but also through the skin, mucous membranes or lungs. Biochemical processes can be influenced by aluminum, but the exact mechanisms of the toxicity of aluminum are currently not well known or scientifically researched.

Aluminum is suspected to be involved in the development of a number of diseases.

  • Aluminum and Alzheimer's dementia: A direct causal relationship between aluminum exposure and Alzheimer's dementia is not likely. However, aluminum may be an important secondary factor that promotes the development of the disease.
  • Aluminum and breast cancer: In addition to hereditary and hormonal factors, environmental factors also play a role in the development of breast cancer. In recent decades, the incidence of tumors in the outer, upper quarter of the breast, i.e. the area closest to the armpit, has increased. Some scientists suspect the use of aluminum-containing antiperspirants as the cause. However, more studies to substantiate or refute this suspicion are needed.
  • Aluminum and food allergies: A small amount of aluminum from antacids is absorbed by the body and can reach organs and bones via the bloodstream. The use of aluminum-containing antacids is suspected to be involved in the development of food allergies. Since aluminum can enter the fetus, these preparations should not be used during pregnancy or should only be used for a short period of time. In general, aluminum-containing antacids should only be prescribed by a doctor for clear indications and only for a therapeutically meaningful period of time.

Problematic long-term exposure

The results of the study summarized: The numerous suspicions against aluminum can currently neither be substantiated nor refuted on a scientific basis.

Every day, aluminum and its compounds are used for a wide variety of purposes. Each product or each product group viewed individually does not lead to excessive consumer exposure.

However, persistent exposure to aluminum over the course of a lifetime with minute amounts of the metal from various sources such as food, drinking water, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and food contact materials is viewed with concern. How the body reacts to long-term exposure has not yet been researched.

Avoid aluminum as a precaution

In view of this factual situation, the experts recommend the precautionary reduction of exposure in all consumer-relevant areas of application of aluminum (food, cosmetics, food contact materials and over-the-counter antacids).

Recommendations for everyday life

The Federal Ministry for Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection recommends that consumers:

  • Do not use any uncoated containers made of aluminum or aluminum foil for preparing and storing highly acidic foods (such as tomato sauce, rhubarb compote, applesauce, etc.).
  • With aluminum drinking bottles, be careful not to damage the inner coating. If the inner coating shows signs of damage such as scratches or dents, do not continue to use the bottle.
  • Use aluminum-free deodorants whenever possible.
  • Deodorants and antiperspirants with aluminum-containing ingredients should not be applied to damaged or irritated skin or immediately after a shave.
  • Children should not use deodorants or antiperspirants that contain aluminum.
  • Heartburn medicines: Ask your doctor or pharmacist about alternatives to aluminum-containing antacids.

Popular by topic