I have been taught in school that aluminium is harmful for brain. Thus sour meals should not be cooked in aluminium pots and it is unhealthy to add lemon juice to tea while there is teabag in the cup, as acid facilitates aluminium release.

The only safe limit for aluminium intake I know is FDA pediatric limit for parenteral sources (5 μg/kg bw/day). I know no research the limit is based on, but I have read an abstract of a paper claiming it was impossible to comply with the regulation in patients weighting less than 50 kg.

Nowadays aluminium ions are present in several vaccines, which are considered safe to be injected intramuscularly in infants despite despite being nowhere near the FDA limit.

I'm quite confused how strict should I be in avoidance of aluminium intake (especially dietetary intake - which I expect to be far less effective than parenteral).


It seems aluminium is also a component of some antacids which are used to treat heartburn. Does it mean aluminium consumption is safe at general, or it is just considered to be less harmful than acid indigestion (there are some side effects mentioned - but nothing about accumulation in the brain)?

  • $\begingroup$ @RonJohn I think iron is even more hamful then. ;) $\endgroup$
    – abukaj
    Apr 8 '18 at 22:42
  • $\begingroup$ Too true, but this wasn't a comparative question... :) $\endgroup$
    – RonJohn
    Apr 8 '18 at 23:35
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Now I'm wondering if the discount was worthwhile on that depleted uranium skillet. $\endgroup$ Apr 9 '18 at 0:17
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @jamesqf if God had wanted man to hit with aluminum bats, he wouldn't have invented trees! $\endgroup$
    – RonJohn
    Apr 9 '18 at 6:02
  • $\begingroup$ well the thing to understand is that "toxicity" is relative.Anything can be harmful if consumed in high quantities . $\endgroup$ Apr 9 '18 at 15:37

Here is a link to the Public Health Statement for Aluminum produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States. There is much more information on the web page but the following are some of the more pertinent points to your question.

Potential Health Effects


Workers who breathe large amounts of aluminum dusts can have lung problems, such as coughing or changes that show up in chest X-rays. The use of breathing masks and controls on the levels of dust in factories have largely eliminated this problem.

Some workers who breathe aluminum-containing dusts or aluminum fumes have decreased performance in some tests that measure functions of the nervous system.


Oral exposure to aluminum is usually not harmful. Some studies show that people exposed to high levels of aluminum may develop Alzheimer’s disease, but other studies have not found this to be true. We do not know for certain that aluminum causes Alzheimer’s disease.

Some people who have kidney disease store a lot of aluminum in their bodies. The kidney disease causes less aluminum to be removed from the body in the urine. Sometimes, these people developed bone or brain diseases that doctors think were caused by the excess aluminum.

Although aluminum-containing over the counter oral products are considered safe in healthy individuals at recommended doses, some adverse effects have been observed following long-term use in some individuals.

Some regulation and recommendations:

  • Drinking water

The EPA has recommended a Secondary Maximum Contaminant Level (SMCL) of 0.05–0.2 mg/L for aluminum in drinking water. The SMCL is not based on levels that will affect humans or animals. It is based on taste, smell, or color.

  • Consumer products

The FDA has determined that aluminum used as food additives and medicinals such as antacids are generally safe.

FDA set a limit for bottled water of 0.2 mg/L.

  • Workplace air

OSHA set a legal limit of 15 mg/m3 (total dust) and 5 mg/m3 (respirable fraction) aluminum in dusts averaged over an 8 hour work day.

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    $\begingroup$ Yep, good catch. I needed to remove the Inhalation at the beginning of the sentence. I'll revise to avoid any further confusion. $\endgroup$ Apr 8 '18 at 19:07
  • $\begingroup$ Why is there one section titled "Workers" and another "Humans"? $\endgroup$
    – Phil
    Apr 9 '18 at 9:14
  • $\begingroup$ @Phil each of these species obviously lives in a different environment, thus have a different aluminium exposure ;) $\endgroup$
    – abukaj
    Apr 9 '18 at 9:35
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    $\begingroup$ @Phil: Possibly because some of it is taken from information provided for industrial safety uses? After all, the only people who are likely to be exposed to large amounts of aluminum dust are people who work in aluminum-related industries. Note also that inhaling large amounts of any sort of dust is not a good idea, and is rather different from ingesting material in solution. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Apr 10 '18 at 17:09
  • $\begingroup$ @jamesqf are the workers not human then? $\endgroup$
    – Phil
    Apr 11 '18 at 7:32

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