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Harvard Medical School
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General Medical Questions
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Question : Aluminum is an ingredient in so many products. What are the health risks of aluminum exposure?
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The Trusted Source
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Howard LeWine, M.D.

Howard LeWine, M.D., is chief editor of Internet Publishing, Harvard Health Publications. He is a clinical instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital. Dr. LeWine has been a primary care internist and teacher of internal medicine since 1978.

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March 20, 2014
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The problem is that there is no agreed upon safe level of aluminum. But we do know that a person with healthy kidneys is extremely unlikely to develop aluminum poisoning. For example, no adverse health effects have been proven from the following:

  • Cooking with aluminum pots and pans
  • Using deodorants with aluminum
  • Ingesting the tiny amounts of aluminum in foods and beverages

The kidneys excrete the aluminum we absorb from our intestines. This process is usually very efficient. It prevents us from building up toxic levels of aluminum.

People with impaired kidneys, especially those on dialysis, tend to have much higher blood levels of aluminum compared to people with normal kidneys. But even they don’t show signs of aluminum poisoning.

That being said, aluminum poisoning can happen. But diagnosing the rare case is very challenging. Symptoms include confusion, muscle weakness and bone pain. Most often the symptoms are actually caused by something other than aluminum poisoning.

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