Today we talk about Aluminium.
It has been the subject of controversy for years, and is particularly at the forefront of controversial ingredients when it is present in cosmetics in the form of salt. Is aluminum dangerous for skin application? Is it threatened to be more strictly regulated?
Aluminum is a ubiquitous chemical element, meaning it is everywhere. It is the third constituent element of the Earth’s crust (which it composes at 8%), after oxygen and silicon.
In nature, it is rarely found in its pure form, but generally combined with other organic elements (citrate, carboxylic acids, sucralfates, etc.) or inorganic (chlorides, nitrates, sulphates, silicates, etc.): it thus forms ores such as bauxite from which aluminum is extracted for industrial purposes, is also present in clays (aluminum silicates) or in rock alum (double sulphates of aluminum and potassium) … generally in the form of salts aluminum.
We are all so, every day, in direct contact with these aluminum salts. And the sources of exposure are multiple.
- direct contact with the soil,
- inspiration from the ambient air,
- ingestion of plant foods from the earth (tea, cabbages, salads and other vegetables …), or spring water …
The industrial applications of aluminum multiply our sources of exposure to this metal by several means:
- buildings: doors, aluminum windows,
- transport: bicycles, trains …,
- agri-food: additives, preservatives, dyes …,
- treatment of drinking water,
- packaging: trays, cans …,
- cooking tools,
- pharmacy: antacid drugs (gastric diseases), vaccine adjuvants, pharmaceutical glass …,
- medicine: surgical equipment (orthopedic, dental, etc.), intravenous infusions (especially hemodialysis, parenteral nutrition, etc.),
- cosmetics: mainly antiperspirants, but also deodorants with alum (natural or synthetic), clay masks and other facial and body care products, makeups, sun protection products, oral and toothpastes …
At each source of course, its particular exposure dose, and especially a different bioavailability: if it is 100% in case of infusion (where aluminum is injected directly into the bloodstream), it would be estimated at around 0 , 3% for drinking water, 0.1 to 0.3% for food.
Some limits nevertheless exist:
- Aluminum fluoride is limited to 0.15% in dental hygiene products
- In the antiperspirants, hydrated aluminum and zirconium hydroxychlorides are limited respectively to 20 and 5.4%.
New information against aluminum in cosmetics. According to a recent report by the Norwegian Scientific Committee (VKM), their daily use, including antiperspirants, translates into exposure to aluminum that exceeds tolerable weekly doses, which is much higher than that from food.
- In humans
In its assessment of the risk related to the use of aluminum in cosmetic products (October 2011), ANSM, National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products,
recalls that “the effects in humans (neurotoxicity, bone damage, anemia) are known in patients with renal impairment exposed chronically to aluminum, as well as in parenterally fed premature infants. “
What Françoise Audebert (is a veterinarian, holds a DEA in immunology, a PhD in toxicology and a DESS in international drug development and registration) confirmed at an information point on aluminum organized by the FEBEA (Federation of Beauty Companies) on April 20, 2012, mentioning the listed cases of encephalopathy in dialysis and the renal failure, as well as the presence of consecutive cognitive disorders occupational exposure in workers with high respiratory exposure.
- Dr. Philippa Darbre is well known for launching the debate on the toxicity of aluminum and the involvement of this substance with breast cancer. You can read her article in Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry.