Why is aluminum also written as aluminum

Aluminum: Popular metal with unclear health risks

The Trimet company, for example, needs as much electricity in its Essen aluminum smelter as the entire city of Essen, including the other industrial plants. Recycling uses only five percent of the energy compared to primary production. This is why aluminum is so attractive for recycling.

Aluminum is hidden in many things in our everyday life

Aluminum is not only used in most vehicles, it is ubiquitous in our houses and apartments - for example in window frames. It is also found in many everyday objects that we come into constant contact with: it can be found in lipsticks, sun creams, toothpaste, heartburn medication, saucepans and espresso pots.

Because it makes up eight percent of the earth's crust, it's also naturally found in foods like tea and chocolate, and it can even be found in drinking water. Deodorants with aluminum salts are viewed as particularly critical. If they are applied after shaving, larger amounts of the aluminum can get into the skin.

The limit value for aluminum is exceeded quickly

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has defined a so-called tolerable weekly intake value for aluminum - the TWI (tolerable weekly intake). It is one milligram of aluminum per kilogram of body weight. That means: For an adult weighing 70 kilograms, the limit value for the amount of aluminum that should not be exceeded per week is 70 milligrams.

According to calculations by the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, this limit value is reached relatively quickly in everyday life. However, it is unclear what the health consequences are. Because there is a large safety margin between the limit value and actually toxic doses.

Aluminum is poisonous in large quantities

It is known from animal experiments that aluminum is toxic to the brain in large quantities. Aluminum poisoning is also known in humans - although it is extremely rare.

In the early 1970s, a strange disease emerged: dialysis encephalopathy. Kidney patients who received regular dialysis showed a variety of neurological symptoms such as language disorders, seizures, hallucinations and confusion leading to dementia. In addition, some patients experienced bone pain and fragility and anemia.

It took a few years before the cause could be identified: Back then, patients were given high concentrations of aluminum in the dialysis solution. The disease has shown which organs and tissues aluminum can have a toxic effect on in high quantities: above all on the brain, the bones and the blood-forming system.

Aluminum and Alzheimer's - a decades-old suspicion

For several decades, the theory has been held that aluminum could be involved in the development of Alzheimer's disease. Animal experiments from the 1960s laid the foundation: the administration of aluminum in food or via injections into the brain of the animals led to memory disorders and changes in the nerve cells that are similar to those in Alzheimer's disease.