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Aggregated aluminium exposure: risk assessment for the general population


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Aluminium is one of the most abundant elements in earth’s crust and its manifold uses result in an exposure of the population from many sources. Developmental toxicity, effects on the urinary tract and neurotoxicity are known effects of aluminium and its compounds. Here, we assessed the health risks resulting from total consumer exposure towards aluminium and various aluminium compounds, including contributions from foodstuffs, food additives, food contact materials (FCM), and cosmetic products. For the estimation of aluminium contents in foodstuff, data from the German “Pilot-Total-Diet-Study” were used, which was conducted as part of the European TDS-Exposure project. These were combined with consumption data from the German National Consumption Survey II to yield aluminium exposure via food for adults. It was found that the average weekly aluminium exposure resulting from food intake amounts to approx. 50% of the tolerable weekly intake (TWI) of 1 mg/kg body weight (bw)/week, derived by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). For children, data from the French “Infant Total Diet Study” and the “Second French Total Diet Study” were used to estimate aluminium exposure via food. As a result, the TWI can be exhausted or slightly exceeded—particularly for infants who are not exclusively breastfed and young children relying on specially adapted diets (e.g. soy-based, lactose free, hypoallergenic). When taking into account the overall aluminium exposure from foods, cosmetic products (cosmetics), pharmaceuticals and FCM from uncoated aluminium, a significant exceedance of the EFSA-derived TWI and even the PTWI of 2 mg/kg bw/week, derived by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives, may occur. Specifically, high exposure levels were found for adolescents aged 11–14 years. Although exposure data were collected with special regard to the German population, it is also representative for European and comparable to international consumers. From a toxicological point of view, regular exceedance of the lifetime tolerable aluminium intake (TWI/PTWI) is undesirable, since this results in an increased risk for health impairments. Consequently, recommendations on how to reduce overall aluminium exposure are given.
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Archives of Toxicology (2019) 93:3503–3521
Aggregated aluminium exposure: risk assessment forthegeneral
ThomasTietz1 · ArianeLenzner1· AnnaElenaKolbaum1· SebastianZellmer1· ChristianRiebeling1·
RainerGürtler1· ChristianJung1· OliverKappenstein1 · JuttaTentschert1· MichaelGiulbudagian1·
StefanMerkel1· RalphPirow1· OliverLindtner1· TewesTralau1· BerndSchäfer1· PeterLaux1· MatthiasGreiner1·
AlfonsoLampen1· AndreasLuch1· ReinerWittkowski1· AndreasHensel1
Received: 18 September 2019 / Accepted: 15 October 2019 / Published online: 28 October 2019
© The Author(s) 2019
Aluminium is one of the most abundant elements in earth’s crust and its manifold uses result in an exposure of the population
from many sources. Developmental toxicity, effects on the urinary tract and neurotoxicity are known effects of aluminium
and its compounds. Here, we assessed the health risks resulting from total consumer exposure towards aluminium and
various aluminium compounds, including contributions from foodstuffs, food additives, food contact materials (FCM), and
cosmetic products. For the estimation of aluminium contents in foodstuff, data from the German “Pilot-Total-Diet-Study”
were used, which was conducted as part of the European TDS-Exposure project. These were combined with consumption
data from the German National Consumption Survey II to yield aluminium exposure via food for adults. It was found that
the average weekly aluminium exposure resulting from food intake amounts to approx. 50% of the tolerable weekly intake
(TWI) of 1mg/kg body weight (bw)/week, derived by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). For children, data from
the French “Infant Total Diet Study” and the “Second French Total Diet Study” were used to estimate aluminium expo-
sure via food. As a result, the TWI can be exhausted or slightly exceeded—particularly for infants who are not exclusively
breastfed and young children relying on specially adapted diets (e.g. soy-based, lactose free, hypoallergenic). When taking
into account the overall aluminium exposure from foods, cosmetic products (cosmetics), pharmaceuticals and FCM from
uncoated aluminium, a significant exceedance of the EFSA-derived TWI and even the PTWI of 2mg/kg bw/week, derived
by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives, may occur. Specifically, high exposure levels were found
for adolescents aged 11–14years. Although exposure data were collected with special regard to the German population, it
is also representative for European and comparable to international consumers. From a toxicological point of view, regular
exceedance of the lifetime tolerable aluminium intake (TWI/PTWI) is undesirable, since this results in an increased risk for
health impairments. Consequently, recommendations on how to reduce overall aluminium exposure are given.
Article Highlights
Risk assessment of total aluminium exposure from different sources for different age groups.
Use of data from the European TDS-Exposure project for the estimation of aluminium exposure from foodstuff.
Comprehensive overview of the toxicological properties of aluminium.
Keywords Aluminium· Dietary exposure· Cosmetics· Food contact materials· Risk assessment· Infants· Children·
Adults· Toxicological overview
After oxygen and silicon, aluminium is the third most abun-
dant element and thus the most common metal of the earth’s
crust. Due to its properties, nowadays aluminium is used in
* Thomas Tietz
1 German Federal Institute forRisk Assessment (BfR),
Max-Dohrn-Strasse 8-10, 10589Berlin, Germany
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3504 Archives of Toxicology (2019) 93:3503–3521
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numerous products and technical processes. Hence, it has
become the second most important metallic material after
steel. In 2017, approximately 64 million tons of aluminium
were produced worldwide (IAI 2018). Considering the fre-
quent discussion about the use of aluminium and its toxi-
cological safety, the aim of this study was to estimate the
overall exposure for consumers of different age groups and
to perform a comprehensive risk assessment.
Consumer exposure results from a variety of sources. Many
unprocessed foods, such as fruits, vegetables, cereal prod-
ucts, and cocoa, inherently contain aluminium. In addition,
there is a contribution from food additives and articles for
packaging, processing or storage of foods, whether made
of paper, plastic, ceramics or metal. Additional potentially
significant sources of exposure are cosmetics and personal
care products such as antiperspirants, toothpaste, and sun-
screen, from which aluminium can be absorbed either orally
or through the skin.
Absorption distribution metabolism excretion
For the toxic effects of aluminium—apart from the skin irri-
tation effect of some aluminium compounds—the systemi-
cally available amount is decisive. Aluminium compounds
are usually poorly absorbed after oral ingestion (maximum
about 1%) (BfR 2014). Absorption varies by one to two
orders of magnitude depending on the aluminium compound
ingested and other parameters such as pH value, calcium
or iron status as well as the amount ingested or presence
of other substances. For instance, the uptake is increased
by lactate, citrate, and fluoride and significantly reduced
by the presence of silicates or phosphate. The average oral
absorption from food is 0.1% (EFSA 2008). Absorption from
drinking water is slightly higher with approximately 0.3%
(SCHEER 2017). There are only a few studies on the der-
mal uptake of aluminium compounds, particularly in man.
Uptake and urinary excretion were followed in an invivo
study on two individuals (one woman, one man), using the
rare isotope 26Al. The isotope was applied to one armpit of
each person in the form of aluminium chlorohydrate (ACH)
and the excretion was determined for 53days. Based on their
measurements and information on the mean renal excretion
rate of 85% of the absorbed aluminium (Priest etal. 1995),
the authors calculated an average absorption rate of 0.014%
(Flarend etal. 2001). Recently published preliminary data
from another, more comprehensive human toxicokinetics
study (de Ligt etal. 2018) show very similar absorption rates
through intact skin. An invitro study (Pineau etal. 2012)
showed average penetration rates through intact skin of
1.6%, 0.6% and 2.0% for the formulations “deodorant spray”,
“roll-on” and “stick”, respectively (calculated according to
the “Notes of Guidance for the Testing of Cosmetic Ingre-
dients and their Safety Evaluation” of the Scientific Com-
mittee on Consumer Safety of the European Commission
(SCCS 2018) as the sum of the aluminium contents in liv-
ing epidermis, dermis and receptor fluid). With 10.7%, the
penetration rate through skin samples in which the stratum
corneum was damaged by “tape-stripping” was significantly
higher (Pineau etal. 2012). The absorption of aluminium
after uptake by inhalation is not sufficiently investigated
to allow for a comprehensive exposure calculation (EFSA
2008). The existing studies estimate the absorption rate
to 1.5–2%, but cannot reliably prove whether aluminium
absorption took place (only) via the lungs or (also) orally
after mucociliary cleansing (Krewski etal. 2007; Yokel and
McNamara 2001). Direct absorption via the nasal tract has
also been discussed (Yokel and McNamara 2001).
After absorption, aluminium is distributed to all tissues.
Accumulation takes place in almost all tissues, especially
in bones and muscles, in the kidney, but also in the brain
(COT 2013; EFSA 2008; JECFA 2012). The presence of
aluminium in the lungs results primarily from aluminium
compounds inhaled and deposited there.
Unabsorbed orally ingested aluminium is excreted via the
faeces. In contrast, absorbed aluminium is excreted mainly
via urine with a half-life of approximately 1day in a first
phase (JECFA 2012). After aluminium uptake over a longer
period of time, the half-life increases to up to 50years,
which indicates the existence of various aluminium deposits
in the body (EFSA 2008; JECFA 2012).
Acute toxicity
The acute toxicity of aluminium is low. The oral LD50 val-
ues for rats and mice are in the range of 162 and 980mg
Al/kg bw. The high variability is probably due to different
systemically available concentrations of aluminium, since
the absorption rate strongly depends on the respective alu-
minium compound used (EFSA 2008). Some aluminium
compounds are irritating to skin. Irreversible toxic effects
after dermal application, however, have not been described
in the literature.
Genotoxicity andcarcinogenicity
According to the current state of research, aluminium is nei-
ther genotoxic nor carcinogenic (COT 2013; EFSA 2008).
Nevertheless, there is an ongoing debate about a possible
(causal) relationship between the uptake of aluminium, spe-
cifically through the use of aluminium-containing antiperspi-
rants, and the development of breast cancer (see BfR (2014)
for details). Despite a number of studies in which the authors
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3505Archives of Toxicology (2019) 93:3503–3521
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postulated a possible correlation (Darbre 2001; Exley etal.
2007; Mannello etal. 2011; Romanowicz-Makowska etal.
2012), up to now, aluminium could not be proven to be caus-
ative for cancer development. In animal studies even at high
doses of up to 850mg/kg bw/day, no carcinogenic effects
were observed (Oneda etal. 1994), and also two epidemio-
logical case studies failed to establish a connection between
the use of antiperspirants and the incidence of breast cancer
(Fakri etal. 2006; Mirick etal. 2002). After critical analysis
of all published studies on the topic, a French expert group
concluded in 2008 that the use of aluminium-containing
antiperspirants is unlikely to be a risk factor for the devel-
opment of breast cancer (Namer etal. 2008). Instead, other
studies suggest that accumulation of aluminium in diseased
tissue could be the result rather than the cause for cancer
development (Mirick etal. 2002; Ogoshi etal. 1994). This
hypothesis is further strengthened by the findings of other
studies that the amount of other elements, such as iron,
nickel, chromium and lead, is also significantly elevated in
breast cancer tissue (Ionescu etal. 2007; Romaniuk etal.
2017). However, one recent study indicates the respective
aluminium to at least partly originate from the use of anti-
perspirants (Lenhart etal. 2017).
Reproductive toxicity
Oral administration of aluminium in rabbits and dogs led to
a decrease in testes weights and sperm quality. The highest
no adverse effect levels (NOAELs) after oral ingestion in
dogs were between 27 and 88mg/kg bw/day (EFSA 2008).
Detrimental effects on embryos were observed only at rela-
tively high doses ( 100mg/kg bw/day) (EFSA 2008; Pi
etal. 2019).
Since aluminium is able to cross the blood–brain barrier, it
can reach and subsequently accumulate in the brain (BfR
2014; Inan-Eroglu and Ayaz 2018; Lukiw etal. 2019;
Mehpara Farhat etal. 2019). At doses above 200mg/kgbw/
day, neurotoxic effects such as behavioural disorders have
been observed in animal experiments even in the absence
of pathological lesions to the brain. Peripheral dysfunctions
were also observed (Martinez etal. 2018). For disturbance
of the vestibulo-ocular reflex in rats of different ages, EFSA
determined a NOAEL of 30mg/kg bw/day (EFSA 2008). In
humans, elevated, toxicologically relevant levels of serum
aluminium led to encephalopathy, as observed for example
at high concentrations of aluminium in water parenterally
administered to dialysis patients or as a consequence of ther-
apeutic intake of aluminium hydroxide (Candy etal. 1992;
Krewski etal. 2007; Seidowsky etal. 2018). In addition to
brain damage, this so-called dialysis encephalopathy is also
characterised by both anaemia and a vitamin D-resistant dis-
order of bone mineralisation (BfR 2007).
The German Permanent Senate Commission for the
Investigation of Health Hazards of Chemical Compounds
in the Work Area (MAK Commission) evaluated several
studies on aluminium concentrations in the urine of human
workers with respect to related cognitive deficiencies (Klotz
etal. 2018). From these, the MAK Commission derived a
NOAEL of 50µg Al/g creatinine. The “background concen-
tration” (biological reference value; BAR value) in urine of
not occupationally exposed humans was estimated to 15µg/g
creatinine (95th percentile) by the MAK Commission (Klotz
etal. 2019).
In the past, neurotoxic effects of aluminium were fre-
quently associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) (Inan-
Eroglu and Ayaz 2018; Lukiw etal. 2019; Nie 2018), a
disorder characterised by the accumulation of pathological
amyloid deposits in the brain. These deposits are believed
to originate from the conversion of membrane proteins as a
result of the destruction of nerve cells or cell membranes,
a phenomenon that increases with age. However, various
epidemiological studies failed to connect aluminium levels
in drinking water with the incidence of AD, not the least
due to inconsistencies within the available data. Also, for
elevated levels of aluminium observed in damaged brain
areas (Lukiw etal. 2019; Mold etal. 2019) of AD patients,
it could not be elucidated whether the aluminium deposits
were causative or rather symptomatic of the disease (for a
detailed description, see BfR (2007)).
Furthermore, the neuropathological changes in AD sig-
nificantly differ from those in patients suffering from dialysis
encephalopathy. Therefore, a causal relation between alu-
minium and AD remains questionable (BfR 2007; EFSA
2008; IPCS 1997; JECFA 2012).
Developmental toxicity
For derivation of a tolerable weekly intake (TWI), EFSA
(2008) considered developmental toxicity as the most criti-
cal endpoint. In a number of studies, both young and adult
animals exhibited slowed reflexes, motor disturbances (grip
strength), behavioural changes such as altered escape behav-
iour, as well as delayed puberty and adulthood. In some
cases, learning and memory disorders could also be seen
(Golub and Germann 2001). For the effects described, the
lowest observed adverse effect levels (LOAELs) were in the
range of 50–500mg/kg bw/day. The lowest LOAEL and
NOAEL of 50mg/kg bw/day and 10mg/kg bw/day, respec-
tively, were used by EFSA (2008) as starting values for the
derivation of a TWI.
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3506 Archives of Toxicology (2019) 93:3503–3521
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Organ toxicity
While EFSA chose developmental toxicity for the deriva-
tion of a TWI, JECFA (2012) considered the formation of
concrements in the efferent urinary tract and the subsequent
occurrence of hydronephrosis, which had been reported in
a more recent 12-month study on rat developmental neuro-
toxicity (Poirier etal. 2011), as the most critical endpoints.
The NOAEL was 30 mg/kg bw/day.
Other toxicity
Apart from the toxic effects already described above,
repeated and long-term administration of aluminium in
animal experiments was reported to also lead to unspecific
effects such as reduced body weight gain, slight behavioural
changes (e.g. anxiety or libido), as well as visual changes
such as hair loss or piloerection (EFSA 2008; JECFA 2012;
SCCS 2014). Toxicity to bone was reported in humans and
animals (Klein 2019; Rodriguez and Mandalunis 2018).
To lower the overall exposure of consumers towards alu-
minium, the use or release, respectively, of aluminium is
subject to regulation by various laws: Regulation (EU) No
10/2011 sets a Specific Migration Limit (SML) for the tran-
sition of aluminium from plastic materials into food (simu-
lants) of 1mg/kg food (simulant). In 2013, in consensus
with the industry, the Council of Europe concluded that a
maximum release of 5mg aluminium/kg food from met-
als and alloys is technically achievable and sets this value
as Specific Release Limit (SRL) (EDQM 2013). Regula-
tion (EC) No 1333/2008 sets Maximum Levels (SMLs) for
theuse of various aluminium-containing food additives in
certain foods. Furthermore, Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009
lays down restrictions such as maximum concentrations and
conditions of use for the application of certain aluminium
compounds in cosmetic products. The Directive on the safety
of toys (Directive 2009/48/EC) sets migration limits for
“dry, brittle, powder-like or pliable” (5625mg/kg), “liquid
or sticky” (1406mg/kg), and “scraped-off” (70,000mg/kg)
toy materials, respectively.
Nevertheless, for consumers various sources of alumin-
ium exposure are still present and risk assessment of the
resulting overall exposure is necessary.
For the risk assessment, the estimated overall exposure was
compared to the health-based guidance values derived by
EFSA and JECFA for the age groups of infants and tod-
dlers (≤ 36 months), children (3–10years), adolescents
(11–14years) and adults (> 14years).
Health‑based guidance values
To take account of the accumulation and very long half-life
of aluminium in the body, instead of a tolerable daily intake
(TDI) EFSA (2008) and JECFA (2012) derived a tolerable
weekly intake (TWI) on the basis of the aforementioned
adverse effects.
EFSA considers developmental neurotoxicity to be the
most critical effect. The LOAELs from various studies are
between 50 and 500mg/kg bw/day, and the NOAELs range
between 10 and 42mg/kg bw/day (EFSA 2008). The lowest
LOAEL/NOAEL originates from a study in mice (Golub
and Germann 2001). EFSA included both the LOAEL of
50mg/kg bw/day and the NOAEL of 10mg/kg bw/day in
the derivation of the TWI. This resulted in a TWI of 1mg/
kg bw/week (EFSA 2008).
Based on a study in rats (Poirier etal. 2011), JECFA con-
siders the formation of concrements in the efferent urinary
tract and the resulting damage to the kidney as the most
critical endpoint. Applying the NOAEL of 30mg/kg bw/day
JECFA (2012) derived a provisional TWI (PTWI) of 2mg/
kg bw/week. This assessment was shared by the Scientific
Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS 2014) and the Sci-
entific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging
Risks (SCHEER 2017).
Exposure assessment
The overall exposure is compared to health-based guidance
values (see above). These were derived for the oral route.
They correspond to a systemic exposure after absorption in
the gastrointestinal tract. Hence, analogous to the procedure
of the Norwegian “Scientific Committee for Food Safety”
(VKM 2013), we decided to first convert the contributions
from non-oral sources via the respective absorption rates
into a systemic exposure and afterwards to calculate an oral
exposure which would lead to the same systemic exposure
(oral exposure equivalents).
Where necessary, the following default body weight val-
ues were applied: 60kg for adults (according to Regulation
(EU) 10/2011), 42kg for adolescents aged 11–14years,
22kg for children aged 3–10years, 12kg for infants aged
1–3years and 6kg for infants up to 12months [all values
are the median according to EFSA (2012)].
Although exposure data were collected with special
regard to the German population, it is also representative
for European and comparable to international consum-
ers, because respective data sources were also taken into
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3507Archives of Toxicology (2019) 93:3503–3521
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Dermal aluminium exposure
The most important non-dietary intake source of aluminium
is dermal exposure from cosmetics, especially antiperspi-
rants, which, according to a previous exposure estimation
(BfR 2014), may reach or even exceed the TWI derived by
EFSA. Exposure estimation is difficult as for most products
robust data on the absorption rate through skin are lacking.
However, in order to still be able to make an estimate, we
used the results of an invivo study (Flarend etal. 2001) on
the dermal absorption of aluminium from antiperspirants,
in which an absorption rate through intact skin of 0.014%
was calculated. For the recalculation into an oral exposure,
the mean rate of 0.1% for the absorption of aluminium from
food estimated by EFSA (2008) is used.
To estimate the quantities of daily usage and the exposed
skin surface for each product, the standard values of the
SCCS “Notes of Guidance for the Testing of Cosmetic
Ingredients and their Safety Evaluation” (SCCS 2018) were
Oral aluminium exposure
Food is presumed to be the most important contributor to
oral exposure (EFSA 2008). Data on food consumption in
adolescents and adults were taken from the German con-
sumption study “Nationale Verzehrsstudie II” (National
Nutrition SurveyII; NVSII) of the Max Rubner Institute
(MRI). The estimation is based on the data from two inde-
pendent non-consecutive 24-h recalls, from 13,926 Ger-
man individuals aged 14–80years (Krems etal. 2006; MRI
2008). The intake estimates were based on the individual
body weights of the respondents.
Data on the aluminium content of foods were taken from
the German pilot total diet study (TDS), which was carried
out within the framework of the European “Total Diet Study
Exposure” (TDS-Exposure) project (http://www.tds-expos according to the criteria laid down by EFSA/FAO/
WHO (2011) [already described in Kolbaum etal. (2019)].
The selection of foods for the TDS is based on the con-
sumption data of the NVSII and is described in detail by
Dofkova etal. (2016). The food list comprises 246 differ-
ent composite samples (pools), with each pool consisting
of 12 individual samples, and covers 94% of the total food
consumption. Foods from the food groups “Food products
for young population” and “Additives, flavours, baking and
processing aids” were not included, as they are either not
or not significantly consumed by the adult population. Gro-
cery shopping took place between March 2014 and February
2015 in the Berlin area (Germany). Before analysis, the food
was prepared following procedures recorded in the NVS II
orusing typical household recipes from the best-selling rec-
ipe books. After preparation, the subsamples were pooled
and homogenised with inert materials such as stainless steel
or titanium to avoid contamination of the samples. The sam-
ples were analysed in duplicate using ICP-MS (“inductively
coupled plasma mass spectrometry”) at the BfR and at a
contract laboratory. Both laboratories are accredited accord-
ing to DIN EN ISO/IEC 17025. Depending on the respective
matrix and laboratory, the limit of quantification (LOQ) was
between 0.0002 and 0.72mg/kg. The tap water from the
TDS kitchen was analysed separately, and aluminium values
were found to be in a low range of < 0.05mg/kg.
To estimate the long-term dietary intake of aluminium,
the occurrence data from the pilot TDS were linked to the
consumption data of the NVSII. The calculation was car-
ried out using the web-based probabilistic Monte Carlo
Risk Assessment software MCRA (Version 8.2 and 8.2.11,
https :// and applying the “observed individual
means” (OIM) model. Results are displayed in mg/kg bw/
week for both the average (mean) and the high-intake con-
sumers (95th percentile, P95), including the correspond-
ing 95% confidence intervals (CIs). For contents below the
respective limit of quantification (< LOQ), two approaches
were used: In the Lower Bound (LB) approach, all values
below LOQ are set to zero, while in the Upper Bound (UB)
approach all values below LOQ are set equal to LOQ. In this
way, the range of the actual exposure is described.
The pilot TDS considered food and consumption only
for adults. Therefore, data from the second French TDS
(ANSES 2011) and the French infant (i)TDS (ANSES 2016;
Sirot etal. 2018) were used for the estimation of the dietary
aluminium intake of infants, toddlers and children. In terms
of methodology, representativeness and topicality, these data
are currently considered as the most appropriate data basis
for assessment of risk for the German population.
The application of aluminium and certain aluminium
compounds as food additives in certain foods is permitted
inthe European Union according to regulation (EC) No
1333/2008. In recent years, the usage of food additives con-
taining aluminium has been restricted significantly. EFSA
(2018) recently re-evaluated substances E520, E521, E522,
E523 and E541 and considered the exposure resulting from
the use of these additives to be negligible and hence of no
safety concern. However, it was recommended that the
combined exposure to aluminium from all the aluminium-
containing food additives should be assessed. In addition, it
should be noted that background exposure to food additives
is already taken into account in the available TDS data by
sampling of industrially producedprocessed foods. Hence,
no additional contribution from food additives was consid-
ered for the overall aluminium exposure.
To estimate the oral exposure to cosmetic products such
as toothpaste and lipstick, the specifications of the SCCS
guideline “Notes of Guidance for the Testing of Cosmetic
Ingredients and their Safety Evaluation” (SCCS 2018)
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3508 Archives of Toxicology (2019) 93:3503–3521
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with regard to the daily amount of use of the products were
applied. Contributions from other sources of exposure, e.g.
food contact materials or pharmaceuticals, were estimated
according to respective evaluations in the literature (BfR
2017b; PEI 2015; Sander etal. 2018).
Aluminium exposure byinhalation
Apart from residential areas in the vicinity of intensive alu-
minium mining, no significant inhalation exposure, e.g. from
ambient air or house dust, is to be expected for consumers
(SCHEER 2017). For the application of antiperspirant aero-
sol sprays, it could be assumed that a part of the spray might
be inhaled. However, in a study on monkeys (Finkelstein and
Wulf 1974), only 0.25% of the applied portion of spray was
inhaled, even though it was sprayed directly into the face.
The portion that reached the lower respiratory tract was even
lower (0.02%). Estimation of the exposure by inhalation is
not possible, because data on the absorption rate via the
lungs are not sufficiently reliable (EFSA 2008). However,
application of the existing data (Krewski etal. 2007; Yokel
and McNamara 2001) for a rough estimation shows that the
combined dermal and inhalative exposure resulting from the
use of antiperspirant aerosol sprays is lower than the expo-
sure from the use of antiperspirant roll-ons or creams. This
is due to the lower aluminium content in sprays in compari-
son to roll-ons or creams (IKW 2016a, b, d) as well as the
lower quantities of daily usage of sprays according to SCCS
(2018). Hence, in the exposure estimation, application of
roll-ons or creams (without inhalative exposure) is used as
worst case assumption.
Estimation ofexposure fromdierent sources
Aluminium content infoods
The main sources of dietary aluminium exposure are sum-
marised in Tables1 and 2 [according to Kolbaum etal.
Table1 shows food in main groups according to EFSA’s
FoodEx2 classification (EFSA 2011). Table2 gives an
overview of the ten food pools with the highest alumin-
ium content. Aluminium was detected in 86% of the 243
samples. Food groups with especially high aluminium
contents are “legumes, nuts, oilseeds and spices” and
“sugars, sweets and water-based sweet desserts”, with an
average aluminium content of 28.5mg/kg and 21.1mg/
Table 1 Mean, minimum
and maximum aluminium
contents from the German pilot
TDS aggregated according
to FoodEX2 level 1 main
groups (in mg/kg fresh weight)
(Kolbaum etal. 2019)
LOQ limit of quantification, LB lower bound, N number of pools in the main food group, UB upper bound
FoodEx 2 level 1
Main food group N% < LOQ Mean Min Max
Alcoholic beverages 4 25 0.5 0.5 < LOQ 0.9
Animal and vegetable fats and oils 3 100 0.0 0.1 < LOQ < LOQ
Coffee, cocoa, tea and infusions 8 38 5.2 5.2 < LOQ 35.7
Composite dishes 31 0 1.4 1.4 0.1 6.8
Eggs and egg-products 2 0 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3
Fish and seafood 19 32 2.5 2.5 < LOQ 38.6
Fruit and fruit products 27 15 1.3 1.4 < LOQ 16.7
Fruit- and vegetable juices and nectars 6 0 1.0 1.0 0.1 2.6
Grains and grain-based products 22 5 2.3 2.3 < LOQ 14.3
Legumes, nuts, oil seeds and spices 10 0 28.5 28.5 0.7 243.5
Meat and meat products 26 8 1.0 1.0 < LOQ 4.1
Milk and dairy products 15 27 0.5 0.6 < LOQ 2.5
Products for non-standard diets, food imitates
and food supplements (here soy and soy
3 0 3.2 3.2 0.4 7.3
Seasoning, sauces and condiments 17 0 1.8 1.8 0.1 5.8
Starchy roots or tubers and products thereof 7 14 1.5 1.5 < LOQ 4.7
Sugar, confectionary and water-based sweet
12 8 21.1 21.1 < LOQ 116.4
Vegetables and vegetable products 26 15 1.1 1.2 < LOQ 8.0
Water and water-based beverages 5 80 0.1 0.2 < LOQ 0.5
Sum/*mean 243 14 4.1* 4.1*
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3509Archives of Toxicology (2019) 93:3503–3521
1 3
kg, respectively. The high contents found in these food
groups are mainly due to the pools “spices” or cocoa-con-
taining products, such as “bitter chocolate” and “pralines”
(Table2). For all other food groups the concentrations
range between 0.1 and 5.2mg/kg. No aluminium was
detected in the group “animal and vegetable fats and oils”.
Dietary aluminium intake fortheGerman adult population
The mean aluminium intake for the adult population
(14–80years) in Germany ranges between 0.18mg/kg bw
(LB) and 0.21mg/kg bw (UB) per week (Table3). For
highly exposed persons (P95), the weekly aluminium intake
ranges between 0.42mg/kg bw (LB) and 0.44mg/kg bw
(UB). There are no significant differences between age and
gender groups. These intake values correspond to 18–21%
(mean) and 42–44% (P95) of the EFSA-derived TWI of 1
mg Al/kg bw/week.
With 11% of total aluminium intake, the main contri-
bution results from instant tea beverages. Other relevant
sources of exposure are mixed vegetable salads, tea bev-
erages, bitter chocolate and multigrain bread (see Fig.1).
Other cocoa and chocolate products also contribute to the
overall aluminium intake (not shown separately). Hence, the
data presented here are in line with the results of a study on
aluminium intake via cocoa and chocolate products, which
was carried out in 2017 on the basis of data from the Ger-
man food monitoring programme (BfR 2017a).
Due to the high consumption in combination with the
LOQ, natural mineral water appears to be among the main
contributors of aluminium intake in the UB approach. How-
ever, aluminium content was below the detection limit in the
respective samples. In general, there is only a slight differ-
ence between the LB and UB approach with respect to the
main intake sources. Contributors are diversely distributed
over different food groups and cannot be assigned to a spe-
cific consumption pattern.
The estimated aluminium intake through food in the Ger-
man adult population [0.18–0.21mg/kgbw/week (mean);
0.42–0.44mg/kgbw/week (P95)] is in good accordance
with other European data. The aluminium intake of adults
in France was estimated to be on average at 0.28mg/kgbw/
week and at 0.49mg/kgbw/week for high-intake consum-
ers (ANSES 2011; Arnich etal. 2012). The slightly higher
values result from the applied middle bound approach in
combination with significantly higher LOQ. In a recent study
for the Italian adult population, a mean intake of 4.1mg/day
(corresponding to 0.48mg/kg bw/week; bw = 60kg) was
estimated (Filippini etal. 2019). Data from EFSA (2008) as
well as studies from non-European countries such as Aus-
tralia and New Zealand (FSANZ 2011, 2014; MPI 2016),
Hong Kong (CFS 2013) or China (Liang etal. 2019) show
slightly or significantly higher aluminium intakes. However,
due to older data (EFSA 2008) or differences in the eating
Table 2 Aluminium content of the ten food pools with the highest
aluminium content in the German pilot TDS (mg/kg fresh weight)
a Large deviation (31.4mg/kg and 201.3mg/kg) in the duplicate anal-
TDS Pool
(corresponding FoodEx2 Food group) Aluminium
content in
(Legumes, nuts, oil seeds and spices) 243.5
Bitter chocolate (incl. filled)
(Sugar, confectionary and water-based sweet des-
(Sugar, confectionary and water-based sweet des-
(Fish and seafood) 38.6
Cocoa powder and beverage powder
(Coffee, cocoa, tea and infusions) 35.7
(Sugar, confectionary and water-based sweet des-
(Legumes, nuts, oil seeds and spices) 30.4
Dried vine fruits
(Fruit and fruit products) 16.7
Muesli and similar
(Grains and grain-based products) 14.3
Chocolate spreads
(Sugar, confectionary and water-based sweet des-
Table 3 Long-term aluminium
intake through food for the
German adult population
(14–80years) and resulting
exhaustion of the TWI/PTWI;
data taken from the NVSII and
the German pilot TDS
bw body weight, CI 95% confidence interval, LB Lower bound, UB Upper bound, (P)TWI (provisional)
tolerable weekly intake
Aluminium intake in mg/kg bw/week Exhaustion of the EFSA-
Mean 0.18 (0.177; 0.181) 0.21 (0.203; 0.207) 18%/9% 21%/11%
Median 0.14 (0.138; 0.143) 0.17 (0.166; 0.169) 14%/7% 17%/9%
95th percentile 0.42 (0.404; 0.427) 0.44 (0.428; 0.449) 42%/21% 44%/22%
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3510 Archives of Toxicology (2019) 93:3503–3521
1 3
habits or methods for exposure estimation, these data are not
directly comparable to the data presented herein.
Dietary aluminium intake forinfants, toddlers andchildren
The results from the French TDS and iTDS (ANSES 2011,
2016; Sirot etal. 2018), covering the age between < 1month
and 14years, are presented in Tables4 and 5. The mean alu-
minium intake increases from 0.21 to 0.37mg/kg bw/week
(LB) in the first 36months. In the 90th percentile, the intake
increases from 0.43 to 0.61mg/kg bw/week (LB). According
to the authors, the increase results from the stepwise inclu-
sion of additional food products in the daily diet (Sirot etal.
2018). Infant formula is the main source of aluminium intake
until the 4thmonth (85%). Afterwards, follow-on formulas,
ready-to-eat vegetable meals for children, and vegetables
(excluding potatoes) become increasingly important (> 10%)
(Sirot etal. 2018). The resulting average dietary alumin-
ium intake corresponds to 21–37% of the TWI derived by
EFSA. High-intake consumers take up 43–61% of this TWI
Children aged 3–6years have the highest dietary alumin-
ium intake. Exposure for this age group is at 0.64mg/kg bw/
week (mean) and 1.02mg/kg bw/week (P95), corresponding
to 64% and 102%, respectively, of the TWI derived by EFSA
(Table5). With increasing age, aluminium intake gradually
decreases to 0.34mg/kg bw/week (mean) and 0.58mg/
kgbw/week (P95). Vegetables (excluding potatoes), milk-
based desserts and pasta are the main sources of aluminium
intake among children (6–9%).
The data from the second French TDI and the iTDS are
in good accordance with another recent study on infants and
Fig. 1 Main contributors of dietary aluminium exposure in the German adult population (14–80years) on the basis of NVSII and the German
pilot TDS
Table 4 Long-term aluminium intake for infants and toddlers aged
1–36months through food as estimated in the French ‘Infant TDS’
(iTDS) and resulting exhaustion of the TWI/PTWI (ANSES 2016;
Sirot etal. 2018)
bw body weight, LB lower bound, UB upper bound, (P)TWI (provi-
sional) tolerable weekly intake
Age in months Mean 90th percentile
Aluminium intake in mg/kg bw/week
1–4 0.21 0.22 0.43 0.43
5–6 0.32 0.32 0.52 0.52
7–12 0.35 0.36 0.55 0.56
13–36 0.37 0.39 0.61 0.62
Exhaustion of the EFSA-TWI/JECFA-PTWI
1–4 21%/11% 22%/11% 43%/22% 43%/22%
5–6 32%/16% 32%/16% 52%/26% 52%/26%
7–12 35%/18% 36%/18% 55%/28% 56%/28%
13–36 37%/19% 39%/20% 61%/31% 62%/31%
Table 5 Long-term aluminium intake for children aged 3–14 years
through food as estimated in the second French TDS (ANSES 2011)
and resulting exhaustion of the TWI/PTWI
bw body weight, (P)TWI (provisional) tolerable weekly intake
a Middle Bound approach
Age in years Aluminium intake in
mg/kg bw/weekaExhaustion of the EFSA-
Mean 95th percentile Mean 95th percentile
3–6 0.64 1.02 64%/32% 102%/51%
7–10 0.49 0.82 49%/25% 82%/41%
11–14 0.34 0.58 34%/17% 58%/29%
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3511Archives of Toxicology (2019) 93:3503–3521
1 3
toddlers conducted by the Austrian agency for health and
food safety (AGES 2017).
The above-mentioned estimates for infants do not con-
sider that alternatives for infant formulas (e.g. soy-based or
hypoallergenic formula) may contain much higher alumin-
ium contents. For example, Dabeka etal. (2011) found in
an extensive study of 473 different infant formulas and sub-
stitutes in Canada on average about fourfold higher alumin-
ium content in soy-based formulas (733µg/kg) compared to
milk-based formulas (177μg/kg). Other modifications, such
as amino acid pattern adjustments, hypoallergenic or lactose-
free milks, also show higher aluminium values. Chuchu etal.
(2013) found in 20 products sampled in the UK on average
3.6-fold higher levels in soy-based infant formula (706μg/
kg) (N = 2) compared to the milk-based diet (195μg/kg)
(N = 18). All values refer to the conversion to reconstituted
powder. Comparing data from the German TDS pilot with
regard to aluminium contents in soy drinks (1.8 mg/kg) and
cow milk (< LOQ) or soy yoghurt (0.4mg/kg) and cow milk
yoghurt (< LOQ), respectively, indicates that the respective
infant products in Germany may also contain higher alu-
minium contents if they are soy based.
EFSA (2008) also concluded that adapted infant formu-
las, such as soy-based or hypoallergenic products, result
in significantly higher exposure. In contrast, the modelled
aluminium intake for 3 months old, exclusively breastfed
infants is with 0.04mg/kg bw/week (average consumption)
and 0.06mg Al/kg bw/week (high-intake consumption),
respectively (EFSA 2008; JECFA 2007), much lower than
the intake of children fed with adapted products or infant
formula (0.21–0.52mg/kg bw/week in the first 6months,
compare Table4). However, to model the data for breast-
fed infants, only one study from 1989 is used, which only
reported contents below the limit of detection (< 50μg/l).
Table6 summarises more recent data on aluminium content
in human milk. The results range from 100% below the limit
of detection in France to a maximum of 380μg/l milk for
Austrian women. On average, values between 13 and 67μg/l
as well as high standard deviations are reported. Hence, the
data used by EFSA and JECFA lead to a rational, though not
especially conservative exposure estimation.
Dietary aluminium intake summarised
Figure2 shows the cited French (ANSES 2011, 2016; Sirot
etal. 2018) and the evaluated German data for the long-term
dietary intake of aluminium in different age groups used for
the risk assessment presented herein (data from Tables3,
4, 5). In the first months of life, aluminium intake increases
steadily with increasing variability in food choices. It must
be taken into account that only non-breastfed children were
included. Aluminium intake via breast milk is significantly
lower than via intake via infant food. From the age of 6years
on, the aluminium intake is decreasing. Adults have the low-
est exposure in relation to their body weight. There is a large
variation in aluminium intake from food, which could be
attributed to variable background levels, use of food addi-
tives, food contact materials and eating habits. Hence, for
brand loyal consumers of products with high aluminium
contents and for consumers of adapted infant formula, higher
aluminium intakes might result.
Aluminium intake throughfood contact materials (FCM)
Materials and articles which are used for production, pack-
aging, cooking, eating and storage of food can release alu-
minium into the food. EFSA (2008) estimated the weekly
aluminium exposure to be higher for elderly people living in
care facilities due to the assumed more frequent consump-
tion of food from aluminium menu trays (average consum-
ers: 0.57 compared to 0.41mg Al/kg bw/week; high-intake
consumers 1.14 compared to 0.88mg Al/kg bw/week). Sig-
nificant transition of aluminium into food is to be expected
above all when uncoated aluminium articles are used in con-
nection with acidic, basic or salty foodstuffs. In this context,
the BfR had reported high aluminium contents in lye biscuits
Table 6 Aluminium content in breast milk
n.s. not specified, LOD limit of detection
a Standard deviation
Country Year of sampling Samples Content References
Germany (Lower Saxony) 2016 19 Mean: 20μg/l
Range: < LOD to 40μg/l
LAVES (2017)
Taiwan 2008 45
Mean: Colostrum: 56 ± 23aμg/l
Ripe milk: 13 ± 6aμg/l
Chao etal. (2014)
Austria (Graz) n.s. 27 Median: 67μg/l
Range: < 10 to 380μg/l
Krachler etal. (2000)
Spain n.s. 45 Mean: 23 ± 10a μg/l
Range: 7 to 42μg/l
Fernandez-Lorenzo etal. (1999)
France n.s. 17 Mean: < LOD (8μg/l) Biego etal. (1998)
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3512 Archives of Toxicology (2019) 93:3503–3521
1 3
(BfR 2002) and apple juice (BfR 2008). In 2017, the BfR
investigated menu trays made of uncoated aluminium for
the release of this metal into acidic foods such as strained
tomatoes, sauerkraut juice and apple puree during normal
cooking and keeping warm procedures (cook & chill), and
calculated the additional contribution to the weekly exposure
of an adult when eating a meal (200g) per day at 0.5mg Al/
kg bw/week (BfR 2017b; Sander etal. 2018). Recent results
support these findings (Ertl and Goessler 2018). Data on
aluminium release from FCM made of ceramics (Beldì etal.
2016) or paper and board (BVL 2019) suggest that these
FCM might be an additional source of aluminium exposure.
Aluminium intake throughlipsticks
Lipsticks may contain colour pigments which contain alu-
minium or were produced by aluminium salt precipitation
(“aluminium lakes”). Liu etal. (2013) analysed the alu-
minium content in 32 lipsticks. The maximum content was
27,000mg Al/kg, the median 4431mg/kg. In 11lipsticks/
lip gloss, the “Norwegian Institute for Air Research” deter-
mined aluminium contents of up to 28,000mg/kg (NILU
2011). The median was 7700mg/kg. The Austrian AGES
(2017) has examined 22 samples of lipsticks, incl. lip balm.
The maximum content was 19,000mg/kg and the mean at
about 10,000mg/kg.
For lipsticks, only the oral route is relevant for the expo-
sure assessment. Dermal uptake is expected to be negligible.
For the calculation of the systemic exposure, the assumption
that the whole amount applied to the lips is swallowed is
considered to be conservative and covers a possible der-
mal exposure. According to the guideline of the SCCS
(2018), about 0.057g lipstick is applied daily. Based on
the reported mean/median aluminium contents, the average
weekly intake for an adolescent or adult (bw = 60kg) is
0.029–0.066mg Al/kg bw/week (mean or median alumin-
ium contents reported in the studies cited above were used
for the calculation). However, application of the lipstick with
the highest reported aluminium content of 28,000mg/kg
(NILU 2011) would result in an intake of 0.19mg Al/kg
bw/week. For children between 11 and 14years with a bw
of 42kg (see EFSA (2012)), the average exposure would be
0.042–0.073mg Al/kg bw/week, while the lipstick with the
highest aluminium content would lead to a systemic expo-
sure dose of 0.27mg Al/kg bw/week.
Aluminium intake throughtoothpaste
In toothpaste, the use of aluminium fluoride up to a concen-
tration of 1500ppm (0.15% based on the fluoride content)
is permitted according to the European Cosmetics Regula-
tion (Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009), but data on the actual
use are scarce. However, the vast majority of products seem
to contain sodium fluoride instead of aluminium fluoride.
Hence, a relevant aluminium uptake can be expected only
from the use of so-called “whitening” toothpastes, which
may contain aluminium oxide or hydroxide as abrasives.
According to a study by the predecessor institute of the Nor-
wegian Food Safety Authority in 1997, the median value
of the aluminium content is 4.5% (VKM 2013). Studies by
AGES (2017) on 15 samples of toothpaste showed a high
diversity of the results, with a mean content of 0.9% and a
median of only 0.02%. The highest content found was 3.9%.
According to SCCS (2018), about 2.75g of toothpaste is
used per day, of which about 138mg (5%) is swallowed.
For an adult, an aluminium content of 0.02% AGES (2017)
would lead to an exposure of 0.003mg Al/kg bw/week. For
children between 11 and 14years, the exposure would be
Fig. 2 Long-term aluminium
intake in different age groups.
Data basis: French iTDS, sec-
ond French TDS (ANSES 2011,
2016; Sirot etal. 2018) and Ger-
man pilot TDS. Upper bound
estimates for the age group
1–36months and 14–80years
and middle bound estimates
for the age group 3–6years,
14 - 80
2nd French
pilot TDS
Aluminium exposure in mg/kg bw/week
Average consumer High consumer
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3513Archives of Toxicology (2019) 93:3503–3521
1 3
0.005mg Al/kg bw/week. In contrast, the content of 4.5%
aluminium determined by the VKM (2013)would result in
an oral exposure of 0.72mg Al/kg bw/week for adults and
1.0mg Al/kg bw/week for children.
Dermal uptake ofaluminium throughantiperspirants
In most cases, the active ingredient of antiperspirants is
ACH (roll-ons and sprays). IKW (2016a, b, c, d) reports
ACH concentrations of up to 30% for antiperspirant creams
and pump sprays, corresponding to an aluminium content
of approx. 7.5%. AGES (2017) tested 25 antiperspirants and
two deodorants for their aluminium content. As expected, the
deodorant samples did not contain any aluminium. The anti-
perspirants contained between 0.2 and 5.8% aluminium, with
an average content of 2.8%. A study of the Bavarian State
Office for Health and Food Safety (LGL 2018) on 69 sam-
ples resulted in aluminium contents between 0.2 and 5.7%.
The mean value for roll-on products was 2.9%. According
to SCCS (2018), approximately 1.5g antiperspirant is used
per day. For an average aluminium content of 2.8% (AGES
2017) this would result in an oral exposure equivalent of
0.69mg/kg bw/week for adults and 0.98mg Al/kg bw/week
for children between 11 and 14years, respectively. For the
antiperspirant with the highest measured aluminium content
(5.8%, AGES 2017), the exposure equivalent would even be
1.43mg Al/kg bw/week for adults and 2.04mg Al/kg bw/
week for children.
Dermal uptake ofaluminium throughsunscreen
Nicholson and Exley (2007) determined the aluminium con-
tent in several sunscreen products and reported the highest
content to be above 0.1% (w/w). AGES (2017) examined 14
samples of sunscreens. The aluminium content in 5 samples
was below the LOQ. The average content of the remain-
ing samples was 0.1%, with a maximum content of 0.8%.
According to SCCS (2018) and RIVM (2006), a daily appli-
cation of 18g of sunscreen is assumed on 25days/year. For
the average aluminium content of 0.1%, an exposure equiva-
lent of 0.02mg Al/kg bw/week would result for adults. For
the sunscreen with the highest measured aluminium content
(0.8%), the exposure equivalent is 0.16mg Al/kg bw/week.
According to SCCS (2018), the ratio of body surface area to
body weight is not constant across all age groups. The ratio
for 1-year, 5-year and 10-year-old children is 1.6, 1.5 and
1.3 times higher than the ratio for adults. Thus, maximum
exposure equivalents for these age groups of 0.26, 0.24 and
0.21mg Al/kg bw/week, respectively, are calculated.
Other sources ofexposure
Aluminium is a necessary adjuvant in certain vaccines as
well as a main component of certain drugs to neutralise gas-
tric acid in heartburn or inflammation of the upper gastric
tract (antacids). The “Paul Ehrlich Institute” (PEI) estimates
that the cumulative intake of aluminium from all aluminium-
containing vaccines recommended in Germany in the first
2years of life (2–5.8mg intramuscular) is in the range of
the systemic exposure, which can be estimated from toler-
able dietary intake based on European or WHO limits (TWI/
PTWI) for the same period (PEI 2015). Hence, an exposure
equivalent of 1–2mg Al/kg bw/week was calculated for
children ≤ 2years.
Antacids may contain aluminium oxide or -hydroxide,
-phosphate or aluminosilicates (RoteListe 2018). According
to the “Model Lists of Essential Medicines” (WHO 2007),
aluminium-containing antacids contain about 500mg of alu-
minium hydroxide in tablet form or 320mg (per 5ml) in gel
form. This would correspond to 173mg or 111mg alumin-
ium per application. For an adult, this would correspond to
an exposure of 1.85–2.88mg/kg bw per application. Hence,
for a day on which a person has to take the respective drugs,
an uptake of up to 33mg Al/kg bw can result (Fischer 2014).
This single intake would correspond to the sum of daily
tolerable intakes over a period of more than 16weeks, even
if the higher PTWI-value derived by JECFA is used as a
basis. However, the resorption rate in the gastrointestinal
tract is significantly lower with a single administration of
high doses of aluminium than with a continuous intake of
low doses; aluminium from aluminosilicates is generally of
very low bioavailability.
Other drugs contain aluminium, too, for example alu-
minium stearate as an excipient in tablet manufacture [up to
0.5–5%, (Hunnius 2014)] or for antidiarrheal drugs. Another
possible source of exposure for aluminium may be raw
materials in cosmetic products containing water-insoluble
aluminium compounds such as minerals, glass and clay/alu-
mina, carbohydrate compounds or fatty acid salts. Insoluble
minerals, glass and clay/alumina are added to cosmetic prod-
ucts as bulk ingredients, colour pigments and mild abrasives.
However, there is not enough data to estimate the exposure
from these sources.
There are also no representative quantitative data avail-
able on the aluminium content in toys. According to inves-
tigations by the German official control laboratories, which
check compliance with the limits from Directive 2009/48/
EC (see above), none of the analysed samples (90 in total)
exceeded these limits and, hence, toys have “harmless alu-
minium contents” (Lubecki 2014). However, migration
from toys even below the current legal limit may contribute
significantly to the overall aluminium exposure, especially
for infants and toddlers. Currently, it is intended to lower
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3514 Archives of Toxicology (2019) 93:3503–3521
1 3
the current migration limitsin Directive 2009/48/EC by
approx. 60% (https ://eur-lex.europ -conte nt/EN/
TXT/?uri=pi_com:Ares(2019)89217 ), to adapt them to the
current state of knowledge according to SCHEER (2017).
Estimation ofaggregated exposure fordierent age
The relevant exposure contributions for different age groups
are summed up below (Tables7, 8). To calculate expo-
sure for “normally exposed individuals”, the exposure to
aluminium for normal food-consumers (mean or median,
depending on the study) was used. Depending on the age
group, additional contributions from sunscreens, lipsticks,
toothpaste, antiperspirants and vaccines were considered.
Additional contributions from the use of abrasive toothpaste
and FCM were not taken into account. For the calculation of
the exposure for “highly exposed individuals”, the exposure
values for high food-consumers (usually the 95th percentile)
were used. In addition to the contributions for “normally
exposed individuals”, usage of aluminium-containing FCM
and abrasive toothpaste was taken into account.
For infants, toddlers and children until 10years of age,
abrasive toothpaste, lipsticks and antiperspirants were not
considered, because the use of these products in these age
groups is expected to be very low. Vaccination was only
considered as relevant source of exposure for infants and
toddlers until the age of 24months. For breastfed children,
no additional intake from FCM was taken into account.
For infants, aluminium exposure is lowest if the children
are breastfed (Table7). Without consideration of vaccines,
even for breastfed children with high consumption the maxi-
mum exposure is 0.3mg/kg bw/week. After weaning, the
exposure is significantly higher due to higher aluminium
content in the diet as well as possible additional contribu-
tions from FCM. For highly exposed infants and toddlers,
the maximum exposure is 1.4mg/kg bw/week when vaccina-
tion is not considered.
For age groups other than infants and toddlers, the weekly
aluminium exposure is lowest for children between 3 and
10years (Table8). This is due to the possible high impact
of antiperspirants and abrasive toothpaste in the older age
groups. If only the non-avoidable contributions from food
and cosmetics are considered, the weekly aluminium expo-
sure is significantly lower and does not differ much between
the different age groups.
For not occupationally exposed adults, the MAK Com-
mission estimated a 95th percentile of renal aluminium
excretion of 15µg/g creatinine (Klotz etal. 2019). A rough
estimate of the daily aluminium intake (as oral exposure
equivalents) can be calculated, if the following assumptions/
standard values are applied:
Urinary aluminium concentrations in the studies resulted
from continuous and relatively constant aluminium
intake over a long time period.
Between 80 and 90% of the absorbed aluminium is
excreted via urine (Priest etal. 1995).
Table 7 Total weekly aluminium exposure for infants and toddlers (≤ 36months), calculated as oral exposure equivalents
Bold indicates the sum of the exposure estimation which is used for the risk assessment later on
Exposure-contribution Weekly aluminium exposure in mg Al/kg bw/week
children (EFSA
1–6months (not breastfed)
(ANSES 2016; Sirot etal.
7–24months (ANSES
2016; Sirot etal. 2018)
25–36months (ANSES
2016; Sirot etal. 2018)
(1) Food, average consumers 0.04 0.21–0.32 0.35–0.39 0.35–0.39
(2) Sunscreens 0.02–0.26
Sum normally exposed persons without
vaccination ((1) + (2)) 0.060.3 0.20.6 0.40.7 0.40.7
(3) Food, high-intake consumers 0.06 0.43–0.52 0.55–0.62 0.55–0.62
(4) FCM (containing aluminium) 0.50 0.50 0.50
Sum highly exposed persons without vac-
cination ((2) + (3) + (4)) 0.080.3 1.01.3 1.11.4 1.11.4
Other contributions
(5) Vaccines 1–2
Sum normally exposed persons after
start of vaccination at 2months
((1) + (2) + (5))
1.12.3 1.22.6 1.42.7
Sum highly exposed persons after
start of vaccination at 2months
((2) + (3) + (4) + (5))
1.12.3 2.03.3 2.13.4
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3515Archives of Toxicology (2019) 93:3503–3521
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Creatinine excretion is between 15 and 25mg/kg bw/day,
or 0.9–1.5g/day for an adult with a body weight of 60kg,
respectively (Inker and Levey 2014).
Mean oral absorption rate is 0.1% (EFSA 2008).
Applying these assumptions, the aluminium intake (as
oral exposure equivalents) for highly exposed adults (95th
percentile) is calculated to 1.8–3.3mg/kg bw/week. Despite
the rough assumptions, this value is in good accordance with
the exposure estimation described above (Table8).
For risk characterisation, the respective weekly aluminium
exposure for the different age groups is compared to the
EFSA-derived TWI of 1mg/kg bw/week (based on devel-
opmental neurotoxicity) and the JECFA-derived PTWI of
2mg/kg bw/week (based on impairments of the urinary tract
and kidney), respectively (Table9).
Risk assessment forinfants andtoddlers
The EFSA-derived TWI is exhausted or in some cases sig-
nificantly exceeded for infants and toddlers (≤ 36months),
regardless of the type of diet (Table9). The JECFA-derived
PTWI can also be exhausted or exceeded in this population
group (see also BfR (2012)).
A significant part of the exposure results from the vac-
cinations recommended by the WHO and the Robert Koch
Institute (RKI 2017). However, these vaccinations have
a high health benefit, both for the individual and for the
population as a whole (RKI 2016). Moreover, they only
provide a relevant contribution to aluminium exposure in
the first 2years of life and not the whole of life. Clinical
and epidemiological studies also show that exposure to
aluminium from vaccines does not pose a health risk (PEI
2015; RKI 2016; WHO 2012). However, the additional
exposure of infants and young children to aluminium via
food and FCM should be as low as possible. Exposure
to aluminium in breast milk diets is significantly lower
than in other diets (BfR 2012, Table7). Particularly cer-
tain adapted diets (e.g. soy based, lactose free, hypoal-
lergenic) lead to increased exposure. For non-breastfed
highly exposed children, the calculation shown in Table9
also includes an additional contribution from FCM made
of uncoated aluminium. If such additional contributions
are strictly reduced or avoided, the JECFA-derived PTWI
is not or only slightly exceeded. However, an (partly sig-
nificant) exceedance of the EFSA-derived TWI is possible
particularly for high-intake consumers and children fed
with certain adapted foods. This population group is thus
subject to a potentially increased health risk which has to
be seen critically, especially with regard to developmental
Table 8 Total weekly aluminium exposure for children (> 36months) and adults, calculated as oral exposure equivalents
Bold indicates the sum of the exposure estimation which is used for the risk assessment later on
Exposure-contribution Weekly aluminium exposure in mg Al/kg bw/week
Children 3–10years,
data from ANSES
Children 11–14years,
data from ANSES
Adults > 14years
data from this
(1) Food, average consumers 0.49–0.64 0.34 0.18–0.21
(2) Toothpaste, mean Al-content (not abrasive) 0.005 0.005 0.003
(3) Lipsticks 0.042–0.27 0.029–0.19
(4) Sunscreens 0.02–0.24 0.02–0.21 0.02–0.16
(5) Antiperspirants 0.98–2.04 0.69–1.43
Sum normally exposed persons (sum (1) − (5)) 0.50.9 1.42.9 0.92.0
Sum normally exposed persons without antiperspirants (sum (1) (4)) 0.5–0.9 0.4–0.8 0.2–0.6
(6) Food, high-intake consumers 0.82–1.02 0.58 0.42–0.44
(7) Abrasive toothpaste, high Al-content 1.0 0.72
(8) FCM (containing aluminium) 0.50 0.50 0.50
Sum highly exposed persons (sum (2) − (5) + Sum (6) − (8)) 1.31.8 3.14.6 2.43.4
Sum highly exposed persons without antiperspirants, abrasive toothpaste
and FCM (sum (2) − (4) + (6))
0.8–1.3 0.6–1.1 0.5–0.8
Other contributions
Antacids, containing aluminium 1.85–2.88mg/kg
bw per applica-
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3516 Archives of Toxicology (2019) 93:3503–3521
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Risk assessment forchildren andadolescents
For children between 3 and 10years of age, summed alu-
minium exposure (Table9) from the contributions consid-
ered here exceeds the EFSA-derived TWI only in the highly
exposed group (details see Table8). The JECFA-derived
PTWI is not exceeded. For normally exposed children in
this age group, weekly aluminium intake does not exceed the
EFSA-derived TWI. An increased health risk is, therefore,
A different picture emerges for 11 to 14 years old. For this
population group, additional contributions from cosmetic
articles have to be considered. The use of aluminium-con-
taining antiperspirants and abrasive toothpaste with a high
aluminium content results in a total aluminium exposure in
the highly exposed group that is almost fivefold as high as
the EFSA-derived TWI (or 2.5-fold as high as the JECFA-
derived PTWI). An increased health risk is possible on the
basis of these values. Since aluminium also accumulates in
the body and remains there for a very long time even after
a reduction in intake, a high exposure of very young people
must be viewed particularly critically.
However, if aluminium-containing antiperspirants,
abrasive toothpaste and FCM made of uncoated alumin-
ium are avoided, the weekly intake is reduced to a range
of 0.4–0.8mg Al/kg bw/week for normally exposed indi-
viduals and 0.6–1.1mg Al/kg bw/week for highly exposed
individuals (see Table8). The JECFA-derived PTWI would
thus not be exceeded and the EFSA-derived TWI would
only be slightly exceeded in the high exposure group. An
increased health risk would, therefore, be unlikely if the
above-mentioned avoidable contributions were omitted
Risk assessment foradults
Similar to adolescents, the aluminium exposure for adults
may, in some cases significantly, exceed the EFSA-derived
TWI for normally exposed adults. In the highly exposed
group, even the JECFA-derived PTWI may be exceeded by
more than 50% (Table9) and, thus, an increased health risk
is possible. Cosmetic products contribute to a large (and
through avoidance controllable) extent to this overall expo-
sure (details see Table8). Aluminium can cross the placen-
tal barrier, and the unborn child could also be exposed to
aluminium. Antacids that contain bioavailable aluminium
or form it in reaction with gastric acid can be an additional
contribution to the overall aluminium exposure shown in
Table9. Meanwhile, the WHO has removed these antacids
from its “Model List of Essential Medicines” (WHO 2017).
By consequent reduction or avoidance of additional con-
tributions (e.g. cosmetics, FCM), the overall aluminium
intake would be significantly lower than both the JECFA-
derived PTWI and the EFSA-derived TWI. Hence, an
increased health risk would be unlikely.
Uncertainty analysis
Uncertainties inthetoxicological data
There isno consensus regarding the derivation of a (P)TWI
(see above). Depending on the (P)TWI used for comparison
Table 9 Summary of the aggregated exposure values (as oral expo-
sure equivalents) for the different population groups and comparison
with the oral tolerable weekly intake of 1mg Al/kg bw/week (EFSA
2008) and 2mg Al/kg bw/week (JECFA 2012); values printed in bold
type refer to exhaustion or excess of the respective (P)TWI; “normal
exposure” refers to average consumers and does not take into account
additional (avoidable) inputs (e.g. antiperspirants, food contact
materials), which were included in “high exposure” calculation (for
details, see Tables7, 8)
Population/age group Weekly aluminium
exposure in mg Al/kg
Percentage of the EFSA-
TWI of 1mg/kgKG/
Percentage of the JECFA-
PTWI of 2mg/kgKG/week
Infants, breastfed 1.1–2.3 110230 55–115
Infants and toddlers (1–6months), fed with infant formula,
normal exposure
1.2–2.6 120260 60–130
Infants and toddlers (1–6months), fed with infant formula,
high exposure
2.0–3.3 200330 100165
Infants and toddlers (7months–3years), normal exposure 1.4–2.7 140270 70–135
Infants and toddlers (7months–3years), high exposure 2.1–3.4 210340 105170
Children (3–10years), normal exposure 0.5–0.9 50–90 25–45
Children (3–10years), high exposure 1.3–1.8 130180 65–90
Adolescents (11–14years), normal exposure 1.4–2.9 140290 70–145
Adolescents (11–14years), high exposure 3.1–4.6 310460 155230
Adults (> 14years), normal exposure 0.9–2.0 90–200 45–100
Adults (> 14years), high exposure 2.4–3.4 240340 120170
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3517Archives of Toxicology (2019) 93:3503–3521
1 3
with the calculated exposure, different conclusions concern-
ing a potential health risk may arise, because a particular
exposure might at the same time exhaust or exceed the
EFSA-derived TWI, but not the JECFA-derived PTWI.
Further research is needed concerning relevant toxico-
logical endpoints, such as carcinogenicity and neurotoxicity
of aluminium compounds. Nevertheless, up to now, there
is no causal relationship between aluminium exposure and
Alzheimer’s disease or breast cancer development.
Uncertainties inthedata used forexposure assessment
Aggregated exposure assessment based on several data
sources as presented here naturally suffers from inherent
uncertainties due to the different quality of the underlying
data. Whereas the data on food exposure are based on com-
paratively large consumption and content data at individual
level, the measured aluminium contents and data of use of
cosmetics are based on assumptions or data sources that
are not necessarily representative or do not cover the full
variability. Thus, the contribution of each source to the total
exposure might be affected by those uncertainties.
The dietary exposure assessment for adults is based on
data from a pilot TDS. In consequence of the pilot char-
acter, uncertainties due to limited stratification regarding
regional and seasonal variations in eating habits and the
limited access to market share data arise. Nevertheless, the
impact on the exposure outcome is considered as minor,
since regional and seasonal variance is assumed to be low
for environmental contaminants such as aluminium. In addi-
tion, standardised sampling strategies were applied to mini-
mise the effect of missing market share data. Probably the
highest amount of uncertainty, however, arises from a pos-
sible change of the consumption habits of consumers since
2005/2006, when the consumption data collection period of
the NVS II took place. For infants and children, more recent
data from the French TDSs were used. Nevertheless, uncer-
tainties may arise from different dietary behaviour of Ger-
man infants and children, despite the similar culture space.
A TDS measures mean analyte contents of pooled sam-
ples. Hence, it is appropriate to estimate background expo-
sure levels. High analyte contents of particular single foods
cannot be detected. Therefore, individuals, who frequently
consume certain highly contaminated products, such as
brand loyal consumers, might be exposed to a much higher
The considered data on aluminium release from FCM are
limited to a small selection of products. A certain overes-
timation of the respective contribution to aluminium expo-
sure might be possible, because the data are obtained under
conservative conditions (food simulant, time, temperature).
However, since this contribution was considered only for
highly exposed individuals, the impact on the total intake
should be small. The data on aluminium contents of cos-
metic products are very limited, too. Both the extent and
the direction (under- vs. overestimation) of the contribution
to the total aluminium exposure are uncertain. The standard
application amounts and frequencies for different cosmetic
products according to SCCS (2018) are suitable for a con-
servative risk assessment (application of 90th percentile,
each). Nevertheless, different application habits may occur.
For example, recent data (Manová etal. 2013) indicate that
the number of days on which sunscreen is used may be sig-
nificantly higher than assumed here and that there is a vari-
ability in gender and age that is not sufficiently reflected by
the standards used here.
Due to the lack of representative quantitative data on alu-
minium contents in toys, the contribution from this source is
not considered in the assessment presented here.
Methodological uncertainties
Since for aluminium, systemic toxicity has been extensively
studied only after oral intake, contributions from dermal
exposure were converted into a systemic exposure based
on the dermal absorption rate of 0.014%, and afterwards
recalculated into oral exposure equivalents that would result
in the same systemic exposure, applying the oral absorp-
tion rate of 0.1%. The dermal absorption rate is based on
an invivo study on antiperspirants (Flarend etal. 2001).
For products other than antiperspirants leading to dermal
aluminium exposure (e.g. sunscreen), it is unknown to what
extent the use of the absorption rate of 0.014% can be justi-
fied, because these products usually contain matrix com-
ponents or aluminium compounds different from those in
antiperspirants (e.g. aluminium oxide or hydroxide instead
of ACH, as often used in antiperspirants) and are applied
to other areas of the skin. In addition, dermal absorption
rates observed in a recent invitro study are many times
higher (between 0.6 and 2.0%) and suggest that aluminium
is absorbed much better through damaged skin than through
intact skin (Pineau etal. 2012). However, due to the some-
what artificial application mode as well as some uncertain-
ties in the invitro study, and in the absence of other data, the
absorption rate of 0.014% from the invivo study was used to
calculate the systemic exposure after dermal absorption for
all cosmetic products included here. However, it should be
considered that higher aluminium levels might result from
the use of aluminium-containing antiperspirants on damaged
skin (e.g. after sunburn, shaving). Uncertainties may arise
from the application of the oral absorption rate of 0.1%, too,
because this value only represents an average of the results
reported in a large number of studies with highly differing
absorption rates (see above). For example, the oral bioavail-
ability of aluminium ingested via lipstick might be very low
due to the use of insoluble colour pigments and it is not
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3518 Archives of Toxicology (2019) 93:3503–3521
1 3
known whether the aluminium oxide or hydroxide used as
an abrasive in toothpaste is bioavailable to the same extent
as aluminium compounds ingested with food.
The aggregated analysis of the different exposure contri-
butions carried out here allows the comparison of the sig-
nificance of the individual pathways and the provision of
options for risk management. However, data on correlations
between different exposure contributions are missing. There-
fore, uncertainties arise from the aggregated consideration
of different contributions. A probabilistic assessment might
be more appropriate, but would require sound assumptions
on correlations or data on consumer behaviour considering
all exposure contributions based on the same study popula-
tion. With this, evaluation of variability and a more accurate
exposure assessment on high percentiles would be possible.
Additionally, human biomonitoring data could provide a
valid basis for the actual internal exposure resulting from
aggregated external exposure. The 95th percentile of the uri-
nary aluminium concentration of not occupationally exposed
adults, estimated by the MAK Commission (Klotz etal.
2019), corresponds to an oral exposure equivalent, which is
in good accordance with exposure estimation presented here.
However, these data are less appropriate to derive specific
risk management measures.
More recent data (see results) indicate a significant reduc-
tion in aluminium intake from food compared to older data
resulting in only a slight exceedance of the weekly tolerable
aluminium intake (TWI) of 1mgAl/kgbw/week derived by
the EFSA (2008) for high-intake consumers aged 3–6years.
For all other age groups, even high food consumption does
not result in an exceedance of the TWI. The highest average
exposure (3–6years old children) is 64% of the TWI. Hence,
no health risk due to dietary uptake alone is to be expected.
However, additional sources of exposure, such as the
use of FCM made of uncoated aluminium, or the frequent
use of aluminium-containing cosmetic products, could
result in a permanent exceedance of the (P)TWI for a very
large number of consumers in all age groups and lead to
increased accumulation of aluminium in the body. A short-
term exceedance of a (P)TWI does not automatically result
in a health risk. Nevertheless, considering regular long-
term intake levels for aluminium of multiples of the (P)
TWI (Table9), the existing contributions should be criti-
cally reviewed to reduce the overall aluminium exposure.
This holds true even more if the severity of possible adverse
effects (neurological damage, kidney and urinary tract dam-
age) and the long half-life of aluminium in the human body
are also taken into account. In this course, it seems suitable
exclusively breastfeed infants in the first 6months, if
examine the sources of contamination of foodstuffs with
aluminium during production, processing and packaging
(e.g. the elimination of aluminium baking trays in the
production of lye biscuits (BfR 2002), the avoidance of
uncoated aluminium meal trays to heat food or keep it
warm (BfR 2017b)) and, where possible and appropriate,
the use of raw materials with low aluminium content
avoid contact of uncoated aluminium FCM with (espe-
cially) acidic and salty foodstuffs
reduce usage of aluminium-containing cosmetics such as
antiperspirants or abrasive toothpaste
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest The authors declare that they do not have potential
conflicts of interest.
Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Crea-
tive Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creat iveco
mmons .org/licen ses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribu-
tion, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate
credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the
Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
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... Sludge produced during wastewater treatment with an aluminium salt flocculant is often used as fertilizer in agriculture. However, high levels of aluminium in the soil pollute the environment and damage plants (Tietz et al. 2019). Furthermore, free aluminium ions pollute water by infiltrating lakes, rivers, and groundwater by infiltration, diffusion, deposition, and migration, resulting in water contamination and health risks. ...
... Furthermore, free aluminium ions pollute water by infiltrating lakes, rivers, and groundwater by infiltration, diffusion, deposition, and migration, resulting in water contamination and health risks. According to one study, traces of aluminium contained in food caused acute carcinogenic and genotoxic diseases (Tietz et al. 2019). Moreover, Zhang et al. (2015) reported that Alzheimer's disease could be caused due to the remaining traces of Aluminium (Al) in the treated wastewater or marine ecosystems. ...
Industrialization and urbanization are mainly responsible for environmental pollution generating enormous amount of waste-water which needs to be treated. Wastewaters from various sources are toxic to humans and livestock, as well as posing environmental risks. Various treatment approaches have been used for the elimination of contaminants from water and wastewater. Coagulation/flocculation processes are the most commonly used techniques in water treatment for improving the condition of turbid water and removing suspended particles by destabilization and the creation of larger, heavier flocs that aid in sedimentation. Flocculants, both organic and inorganic, have long been used in wastewater treatment. The use of natural coagulants/flocculants for water and wastewater treatment has become essential due to the health risks associated with chemical flocculants. Tannin, a natural coagulant, has been suggested as substitute of chemical coagulants. Tannins are present in the leaves, fruits, barks, roots, and wood of trees as a secondary metabolite. Tannin-based coagulants derived from a variety of plant sources have been successfully used in the treatment of water and wastewater. This review summarises the current status and strategies on applications of tannin-based coagulants exploiting the eco-friendly green materials in water and wastewater remediation for the sake of pollution free environment.
... Aluminum is one of the most abundant elements in earth's crust. It is also present in pesticides and cosmetic and alimentary products, including food additives and food contact materials [38]. Aluminum is a very common cause of human poisoning [39]. ...
Full-text available
Purpose of review: In epidemiologic studies, biomarkers are the best possible choice to assess individual exposure to toxic metals since they integrate all exposure sources. However, measuring biomarkers is not always feasible, given potential budgetary and time constraints or limited availability of samples. Alternatively, approximations to individual metal exposure obtained from geographic information systems (GIS) have become popular to evaluate diverse metal-related health outcomes. Our objective was to conduct a systematic review of epidemiological studies that evaluated the validity of GIS-based geolocation and distance to pollutant sources as an approximation of individual metal exposure based on correlation with biological samples. Recent findings: We considered 11 toxic metals: lead (Pb), cadmium (Cd), antimony (Sb), aluminum (Al), arsenic (As), chromium (Cr), nickel (Ni), mercury (Hg), tungsten (W), uranium (U), and vanadium (V). The final review included 12 manuscripts which included seven metals (Pb, Cd, Al, As, Cr, Hg, and Ni). Many studies used geolocation of the individuals to compare exposed (industrial, urban, agricultural, or landfill sources) and unexposed areas and not so many studies used distance to a source. For all metals, except lead, there was more animal than human biosampling to conduct biological validation. We observed a trend towards higher levels of Cd, Cr, Hg, and Pb in biosamples collected closer to exposure sources, supporting that GIS-based proxies for these metals might approximate individual exposure. However, given the low number and heterogeneity of the retrieved studies, the accumulated evidence is, overall, not sufficient. Given the practical benefits and potential of modern GIS technologies, which allow environmental monitoring at a reasonable cost, additional validation studies that include human biosampling are needed to support the use of GIS-based individual exposure measures in epidemiologic studies.
... Toxicity caused by aluminum (Al) is the main agricultural difficulty on acidic soil reported globally, mostly because of enhanced Al solubility at low pH and its inhibitory role in the growth of a plant. Most crops are tolerant to acidic soils except a few crops like maize, which are less tolerant and thus yield less. Aluminum is an abundantly available metal and ranks third on the earth's crust (Tietz et al. 2019). Aluminum and its compounds are important components of the Earth's crust, accounting for up to 8% of the planet's surface. ...
Aluminum (Al) is a metal that is abundantly available in the earth’s crust in various forms. Though Al has some beneficial role in selected plants, its toxicity and stress symptoms are a matter of concern to agriculturists. Aluminum at high concentration can severely damage a crop by affecting its root system and limiting the uptake of nutrients. As a consequence, the productivity of the plant is diminished. The plant, however, has devised several tolerance mechanisms through which the can combat stress. These mechanisms primarily involve restriction of Al either outside the plant’s body or compartmentalization of the metal in a subcellular location thereby limiting its reactivity. A wide array of organic acids are involved in this process, and all are exuded by their transporters. These transporter proteins are synthesized from their respective genes, each of which has several transcription factors. This chapter is an attempt to overview the Al tolerance mechanism of a plant at the molecular level. Efforts have been made to highlight the functions of various transporters involved in the process.
... In this context, several studies have reported heavy metal pollution as a serious worldwide environmental problem, whose activities can undesirably affect human and animal health, through inducing organ and system toxicities (Akintunde et al. 2020;Mishra et al. 2021). Aluminum (Al) is a reactive metal naturally found in the environment and commonly used in water-treatment processes, food-processing sectors, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics (Tietz et al. 2019). However, occupational exposure to acute high levels of aluminum primarily leads to various diseases and cancers (Exley 2016). ...
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Recently, the use of medicinal plants including effective therapeutic molecules has become of the highest priority in treating various diseases and toxicities. The aim of the present study was to undertake the beneficial effect of Rhamnus alaternus L. aqueous extract (RAAE) against aluminum chloride-induced sub-chronic hematotoxicity and renal oxidative damage in rats. DPPH free radical scavenging, β-carotene bleaching, ferric-reducing antioxidant power (FRAP), phenolic, flavonoid, and tannin contents were measured in RAAE. Twenty-four male rats were divided into four groups. The first group was used as controls, and the other three groups received daily orally 50-mg AlCl3/kg b. wt, 250-mg RAAE/kg b. wt, and AlC3 plus RAAE, respectively, for 4 weeks. The findings indicated the presence of an important amount of total phenolic, flavonoids, and tannins and high-capacity antioxidant activity. The administration of AlCl3 caused induction of hematotoxicity evidenced by a significant decrease in hematocrit (Ht), hemoglobin concentration (Hb), red blood cell count (RBC), mean corpuscular volume (MCV), and mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (MCHC). In addition, AlCL3 led to nephrotoxicity and oxidative stress occurrence, which were revealed by an increase of urea, creatinine, and uric acid, depletion of reduced glutathione concentration, superoxide dismutase, catalase, and glutathione peroxidase activities along with an increased level of the malondialdehyde level. However, the supplementation of RAAE significantly restored the previous mentioned parameters approximately to their normal values. These results were identical with the histological observations. In conclusion, the results showed that RAAE had efficient antioxidant properties due to its richness of antioxidant compounds, which played an important role against AlCl3-induced sub-chronic hematotoxicity and oxidative nephrotoxicity.
... Due to its constant presence in the environment, humans can be directly and indirectly exposed to Al daily, whether in cosmetics, constructions, dental products, packaging articles, medicines, food, and water, through skin contact, inhalation, or oral ingestion [25]. In this perspective, considering the multiple sources of Al that humans are exposed to, the World Health Organization (WHO) and European Food Safety Authority have delimited the tolerable weekly intake (TWI) of 2 mg/kg and 1 mg/kg, respectively, and the No Observed Adverse Effect Level (NOAEL) of 30 mg/kg/day [26,27]. ...
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Hippocampus is the brain area where aluminum (Al) accumulates in abundance and is widely associated with learning and memory. In the present study, we evaluate behavioral, tissue, and proteomic changes in the hippocampus of Wistar rats caused by exposure to doses that mimic human consumption of aluminum chloride (AlCl3) in urban areas. For this, male Wistar rats were divided into two groups: Control (distilled water) and AlCl3 (8.3 mg/kg/day), both groups were exposed orally for 60 days. After the Al exposure protocol, cognitive functions were assessed by the Water maze test, followed by a collection for analysis of the global proteomic profile of the hippocampus by mass spectrometry. Aside from proteomic analysis, we performed a histological analysis of the hippocampus, to the determination of cell body density by cresyl violet staining in Cornu Ammonis fields (CA) 1 and 3, and hilus regions. Our results indicated that exposure to low doses of aluminum chloride triggered a decreased cognitive performance in learning and memory, being associated with the deregulation of proteins expression, mainly those related to the regulation of the cytoskeleton, cellular metabolism, mitochondrial activity, redox regulation, nervous system regulation, and synaptic signaling, reduced cell body density in CA1, CA3, and hilus.
... Al can be transferred into tea infusions through brewing tea, then enter the human body via tea drinking, thereby causing potential harm to human health. In addition, Al is present in food, such as fruits, vegetables, and cereal products, and is used in various processed foods as a common food additive [10,11]. ...
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Tea plants can accumulate aluminum (Al) in their leaves to a greater extent than most other edible plants. Few studies, however, address the Al concentration in leaves at different positions, which is important information for tea quality control. Leaves from four different cultivars of Camellia sinensis L. grown in Hawaii were analyzed for Al concentrations at 10 different leaf positions. Each cultivar was harvested in the winter and summer to determine seasonal variations of Al concentrations in the leaves. The results showed that Al concentrations in the winter leaves were an average of 1.2-fold higher than those in the summer leaves, although the seasonal variations were not statistically significant. The total Al concentration of successively lower leaves showed an exponential increase (R2 ≥ 0.900) for all four cultivars in the summer season, whereas those of the winter leaves fit a bi-phase linear regression (R2 ≥ 0.968). The regression of the Al concentrations against the top-5 leaf positions in the winter season fit one linear regression, while that against leaf positions 6–11 fit another linear regression. The average Al concentrations between the third leaf and the shoot plus first two leaves increased approximately 2.7-fold and 1.9-fold for all cultivars in the winter and summer months, respectively. The Al concentrations in the rest of the leaves increased approximately 1.5-fold in a sequential order. The target hazard quotient being between 1.69 × 10−2 and 5.06 × 10−1 in the tea leaf samples of the four cultivars in Hawaii were all less than 1, suggesting negligible health risks for consumers. The results of this study may be useful for directing harvest practices and estimating tea quality.
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Background This study was performed on female rats to study the effect of oral administration of low dose versus high dose of aluminum chloride (AlCl3) during the period of organogenesis on the maternal and fetal growth parameters. Methods In this study, female mature nulliparous Sprague-Dawley albino rats were used. After mating and confirmation of pregnancy, successfully mated females were divided into three groups (six rats each): control group, low-dose (LD) AlCl3 group, and high-dose (HD) AlCl3 group. The rats were sacrificed at gestational day 20 (GD20) when the liver and kidneys were excised and weighed. Also, the gravid uterine horns were excised and weighed, the placentae and fetuses were extracted and weighed, and fetal growth parameters were assessed. Results Maternal AlCl3 exposure produced an increase in preimplantation losses and resorptions in LD and HD AlCl3 groups. Consequently, there was a decrease in the number of corpora lutea, total implantations, live fetuses, and litter size. Also, the body weight gain, gravid uterine, placental and maternal liver, and maternal kidney weights of both AlCl3-treated groups were significantly reduced in comparison with the control group. There was a statistically significant reduction in fetal biparietal diameter (BPD), head length (HL), crown-rump length (CRL), and fetal body weight. All the above changes were dose-dependent, being more evident with the high dose of AlCl3. Conclusion AlCl3 exposure during pregnancy results in different degrees of adverse effects on maternal weight gain and fetal growth and organ parameters, which followed a dose-dependent manner.
In this study, a novel dual-function probe BMP based on benzothiazole was easily synthesized and characterized through common optical technique. In the system consisting of DMF/H2O (v/v, 2/3), probe BMP showed azure and blue-green to Al³⁺ and Ga³⁺, respectively. Besides, the binding ratios of BMP to Al³⁺ and Ga³⁺ were determined as 1:1, which confirmed by Job’s plot. Furthermore, for Al³⁺ and Ga³⁺, the limit of detection (LOD) was determined to be 1.51 × 10⁻⁶ M and 4.28 × 10⁻⁶ M, respectively. Moreover, it was worth noting that BMP showed good performances in paper colorimetry, cell phone colorimetric identification and cell imaging.
Aluminium exposure has been linked with developmental neurotoxicity in humans and experimental animals. The study aimed to evaluate the ameliorative effect of Tamarindus indica on the developing cerebellar cortex, neurobehavior, and immunohistochemistry of the cerebellar cortex following prenatal aluminum chloride (AlCl3) exposure. Pregnant timed Wistar rats were divided into 5 groups (n=4). Group I (negative control) was given distilled water, group II was treated with 200 mg/kg of AlCl3, group III were given 200 mg/kg of AlCl3 and 400 mg/kg of ethyl acetate leaf fraction of Tamarindus indica (EATI), group IV were given 200 mg/kg of AlCl3 and 800 mg/kg of EATI, and group V were treated with 200 mg/kg of AlCl3 s/c and 300 mg/kg of vitamin E for 14 days (prenatal day 7–21) via the oral route. Male pups (n=6) were randomly selected and taken for neurobehavioral studies, and humanely sacrificed via intraperitoneal injection of thiopental sodium. The cerebellum was removed, fixed and tissue processed for histological and immunohistochemical studies. The results revealed that prenatal AlCl3 exposure impacted neurodevelopment and neurobehaviour among exposed pups. Prenatal AlCl3 exposure was marked with delayed cytoarchitectural development of the cerebellar cortex and increased GFAP expression in the cerebellar cortex. On the other hand, treatment with EATI and vitamin E were marked with significant improvements. The present study therefore concluded treatment with EATI shows an ameliorative effect to prenatal AlCl3 exposure.
Conference Paper
This research aims to develop an easy, simple, and cheap method to determine aluminum by Microfluidic Paper-based Analytical Device (μPAD) with natural reagent from the heartwood of Caesalpinia sappan Linn extract. This method’s principle is based on the formation of the red complex as a product reaction of aluminum and brazilein from the heartwood of C. sappan Linn extract on the μPAD. The method optimizations were done to determine the optimum conditions of sample volume, reagent concentration, and reaction time. The resulting optimum conditions were 10 µL for sample volume, 1.6 % (w/v) for reagent concentration, and 10 min for reaction time. Under the optimum conditions, good linearity was found at aluminum concentrations of 0 – 40 mg/L (R²=0.9906) with the detection limit of 4.46 mg/L. The selectivity test was done by investigating the effect of Ca and Mg ions on the measurement of aluminum. The method showed that the tolerable concentrations for Mg²⁺ and Ca²⁺ ions were up to 60 mg/L.
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(1) Introduction: In 2006, we reported on very high levels of aluminium in brain tissue in an unusual case of cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA). The individual concerned had been exposed to extremely high levels of aluminium in their potable water due to a notorious pollution incident in Camelford, Cornwall, in the United Kingdom. The recent development of aluminium-specific fluorescence microscopy has now allowed for the location of aluminium in this brain to be identified. (2) Case Summary: We used aluminium-specific fluorescence microscopy in parallel with Congo red staining and polarised light to identify the location of aluminium and amyloid in brain tissue from an individual who had died from a rare and unusual case of CAA. Aluminium was almost exclusively intracellular and predominantly in inflammatory and glial cells including microglia, astrocytes, lymphocytes and cells lining the choroid plexus. Complementary staining with Congo red demonstrated that aluminium and amyloid were not co-located in these tissues. (3) Discussion: The observation of predominantly intracellular aluminium in these tissues was novel and something similar has only previously been observed in cases of autism. The results suggest a strong inflammatory component in this case and support a role for aluminium in this rare and unusual case of CAA.
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Aluminum (Al) is the third most abundant element in the earth's crust and is omnipresent in our environment, including our food. However, with normal renal function, oral and enteral ingestion of substances contaminated with Al, such as antacids and infant formulae, do not cause problems. The intestine, skin, and respiratory tract are barriers to Al entry into the blood. However, contamination of fluids given parenterally, such as parenteral nutrition solutions, or hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis or even oral Al-containing substances to patients with impaired renal function could result in accumulation in bone, parathyroids, liver, spleen, and kidney. The toxic effects of Al to the skeleton include fractures accompanying a painful osteomalacia, hypoparathyroidism, microcytic anemia, cholestatic hepatotoxicity, and suppression of the renal enzyme 25-hydroxyvitamin D-1 alpha hydroxylase. The sources of Al include contamination of calcium and phosphate salts, albumin and heparin. Contamination occurs either from inability to remove the naturally accumulating Al or from leeching from glass columns used in compound purification processes. Awareness of this long-standing problem should allow physicians to choose pharmaceutical products with lower quantities of Al listed on the label as long as this practice is mandated by specific national drug regulatory agencies. Keywords: Aluminum toxicity, Bone, Parathyroid glands, Liver, Osteomalacia
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The presence of metals in the environment is a matter of concern, since human activities are the major cause of pollution and metals can enter the food chain and bioaccumulate in hard and soft tissues/organs, which results in a long half-life of the metal in the body. Metal intoxication has a negative impact on human health and can alter different systems depending on metal type and concentration and duration of metal exposure. The present review focuses on the most common metals found in contaminated areas (cadmium, zinc, copper, nickel, mercury, chromium, lead, aluminum, titanium, and iron, as well as metalloid arsenic) and their effects on bone tissue. Both the lack and excess of these metals in the body can alter bone dynamics. Long term exposure and short exposure to high concentrations induce an imbalance in the bone remodeling process, altering both formation and resorption and leading to the development of different bone pathologies.
In 2017, the German Commission for the Investigation of Health Hazards of Chemical Compounds in the Work Area has re‐evaluated the biological tolerance value (BAT value) for aluminium [7429‐90‐5]. Available publications are described in detail. The BAT value of 60 µg aluminium/g creatinine evaluated in 2009 was based on the linear correlation between external and internal exposure. The aim of this re‐evaluation was the derivation of a health‐based BAT value considering the most sensitive critical effect of aluminium, the neurotoxicity. For this purpose, the available studies of aluminium‐exposed workers were taken into account, when the internal aluminium exposure as well as the occurrence of subclinical neurotoxic effects were determined. The effects had been measured with standardised neuropsychological test procedures. From these studies, a no observed adverse effect level (NOAEL) of 50 µg/g creatinine for the occurrence of subtle neurotoxic effects of humans was estimated. Therefore, a BAT value of 50 µg aluminium/g creatinine was evaluated. Sampling time for long‐term exposures is at the end of the shift after several shifts.
Dietary exposure of the German adult population to the elements aluminium, copper, mercury (and as methylmercury), manganese and lead were assessed using data from the first total diet study (TDS) in Germany. In this pilot TDS, performed 2014–2015, 246 food samples were purchased in the Berlin area, prepared ‘as consumed’, and subsequently analysed. Dietary exposure for the German adult population between 14 and 80 years of age was estimated by combining TDS data with individual consumption data from the German National Consumption Survey II (NVS II). Estimated mean and high-level dietary exposure values showed that none of the elements analysed exceeded toxicological reference values; neither was there an undersupply of essential elements. Assessments for methylmercury and lead in women of child-bearing age, in particular, showed no considerable elevated intake levels.
Aluminum (Al) is known for its neurotoxicity for over a century and is reported to have specifically high toxicity for cholinergic system. The effect of Al on muscarinic acetylcholine receptors is widely reported, but its effect on nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) is less well known. The aim of this study was to determine the effects of Al on hippocampus dependent learning and memory, function and expression of nAChRs in the hippocampus. Al concentration and neurodegeneration were also measured in the hippocampus following Al treatment. The mice were treated with 250 mg/kg AlCl3.6H2O in drinking water for a period of 42 days. Results show that Al treated animals have significantly reduced spatial reference memory as compared to control animals in Morris water maze test. Similarly, Al treated animals showed reduced contextual memory for Pavlovian fear compared to control animals. Al treated animals show higher anxiety in elevated plus maze as compared to control animals. The analysis of nAChR expression via RT-PCR showed reduced expression of α7, α4 and β2 nAChR gene expression in the hippocampus of Al treated animals. High Al accumulation was observed in Al-treated animals (688.14 ± 242.82 μg/g) compared to the control group (115.14 ± 18.18 μg/g) that resulted in severe neurodegeneration in the hippocampus. These results demonstrated that Al exposure caused neurotoxicity in mice hippocampus which is manifested by reduced memory and elevated anxiety. The results were further validated by high Al accumulation in the hippocampus, severe neurodegeneration and reduced expression of nAChRs.
An investigation of the naturally occurring aluminum contents in grains, fruits and vegetables locally planted in some areas of China was conducted, and the aluminum dietary intake from the investigated food was estimated. A total of 2,469 samples were collected during 2013 to 2014 and tested for aluminum content using ICP‐MS method. The results showed that although 77.6% of the samples contained aluminum less than 5 mg/kg, significant variations of aluminum contents were observed in different food groups. Generally, the aluminum contents were found to be relatively high in dried grains and fresh vegetables, and low in fresh fruits. The mean value of aluminum contents in grains was 6.3 mg/kg, with wheat being the highest, followed by soybean and corn. The fresh vegetables had an average aluminum content of 4.7 mg/kg, with leafy vegetables being the highest, followed by bulb and stem vegetables. Most varieties of fresh fruits were low in aluminum, with the mean of 1.3 mg/kg. Based on the food consumption data from the China National Nutrient and Health Survey, the average weekly dietary intake of naturally occurring aluminum from the investigated foods was estimated to be 0.62 mg/kg bw for the general population and 0.55 to 1.00 mg/kg bw for different age groups. Grains and vegetables were the main contributors to the overall intake. Evaluated against the provisional tolerable weekly intake (PTWI) of 2 mg/kg bw, the dietary naturally occurring aluminum intake from the investigated foods was considered to be no safety concern.
The German Commission for the Investigation of Health Hazards of Chemical Compounds in the Work Area has evaluated a biological reference value (BAR) for aluminium [CAS No. 7429‐90‐5] in 2018. Available publications are summarised. Considering the available studies analysing aluminium in urine, a BAR of 15 µg aluminium/g creatinine was established. Sampling time is for long‐term exposures: at the end of the shift after several shifts. For aluminium in blood, the data base is not sufficient for the evaluation of a BAR.
Aluminum and tin are ubiquitous in the environment. In normal biological systems, however, they are present only in trace amounts and have no recognized biological functions in humans. High exposure to these metals can result in adverse health effects such as neurodegenerative diseases. In non-occupationally exposed subjects, diet is the primary source of exposure. In this study, we aimed at estimating dietary aluminum and tin intake in an Italian adult population. We measured aluminum and tin concentrations through inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry in 908 food samples. We also estimated dietary intake of these two metals, by using a validated semi-quantitative food-frequency questionnaire administered to 719 subjects (319 men and 400 women) recruited from the general population of the Emilia Romagna region, Northern Italy. We found the highest aluminum levels in legumes, sweets, and cereals, while the highest tin levels were in sweets, meat and seafood. The estimated median daily dietary intake of aluminum was 4.1 mg/day (Interquartile range – IQR: 3.3–5.2), with a major contribution from beverages (28.6%), cereals (16.9%), and leafy vegetables (15.2%). As for tin, we estimated a median intake of 66.8 μg/day (IQR: 46.7–93.7), with a major contribution from vegetables (mainly tomatoes) (24.9%), fruit (15.5%), aged cheese (12.2%), and processed meat (10.4%). This study provides an updated estimate of the dietary intake of aluminum and tin in a Northern-Italy adult population, based on data from a validated food-frequency questionnaire. The intake determined for this population does not exceed the established thresholds of tolerable intake.
Aluminum is a ubiquitous neurotoxin highly enriched in our biosphere, and has been implicated in the etiology and pathology of multiple neurological diseases that involve inflammatory neural degeneration, behavioral impairment and cognitive decline. Over the last 36 years our group has analyzed the aluminum content of the temporal lobe neocortex of 511 high quality coded human brain samples from 18 diverse neurological and neurodegenerative disorders, including 2 groups of age-matched controls. Brodmann anatomical areas including the inferior, medial and superior temporal gyrus (A20-A22) were selected for analysis: (i) because of their essential functions in massive neural information processing operations including cognition and memory formation; and (ii) because subareas of these anatomical regions are unique to humans and are amongst the earliest areas affected by progressive neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease (AD). Coded brain tissue samples were analyzed using the analytical technique of: (i) Zeeman-type electrothermal atomic absorption spectrophotometry (ETAAS) combined with (ii) an experimental multi-elemental analysis using the advanced photon source (APS) ultra-bright storage ring-generated hard X-ray beam (7 GeV) and fluorescence raster scanning (XRFR) spectroscopy device at the Argonne National Laboratory, US Department of Energy, University of Chicago IL, USA. These data represent the largest study of aluminum concentration in the brains of human neurological and neurodegenerative disease ever undertaken. Neurological diseases examined were AD (N=186), ataxia Friedreich's type (AFT; N=6), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS; N=16), autism spectrum disorder (ASD; N=26), dialysis dementia syndrome (DDS; N=27), Down's syndrome (DS; trisomy21; N=24), Huntington's chorea (HC; N=15), multiple infarct dementia (MID; N=19), multiple sclerosis (MS; N=23), Parkinson's disease (PD; N=27), prion disease (PrD; N=11) including bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE; 'mad cow disease'), Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) and Gerstmann-Straussler-Sheinker syndrome (GSS), progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML; N=11), progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP; N=24), schizophrenia (SCZ; N=21), a young control group (YCG; N=22) and an aged control group (ACG; N=53). Amongst these 18 common neurological conditions and controls we report a statistically significant trend for aluminum to be increased only in AD, DS and DDS compared to age- and gender-matched brains from the same anatomical region. The results continue to suggest that aluminum's association with AD, DDS and DS brain tissues may contribute to the neuropathology of these neurological diseases but appear not to be a significant factor in other common disorders of the human central nervous system (CNS).