The Risk Assessment Information System

Toxicity Profiles

Condensed Toxicity Summary for ALUMINUM

NOTE: Although the toxicity values presented in these toxicity profiles were correct at the time they were produced, these values are subject to change. Users should always refer to the Toxicity Value Database for the current toxicity values.

September 1993

Prepared by Cheryl B. Bast, Chemical Hazard Evaluation Group, Biomedical Environmental Information Analysis Section, Health Sciences Research Division, *, Oak Ridge, Tennessee.


*Managed by Martin Marietta Energy Systems, Inc., for the U.S. Department of Energy under Contract No. DE-AC05-84OR21400.

Aluminum is a silver-white flexible metal with a vast number of uses. It is poorly absorbed and efficiently eliminated; however, when absorption does occur, aluminum is distributed mainly in bone, liver, testes, kidneys, and brain (ATSDR, 1990).

Aluminum may be involved in Alzheimer's disease (dialysis dementia) and in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Parkinsonism-Dementia Syndromes of Guam (Guam ALS-PD complex) (ATSDR, 1990; Goyer, 1991). Aluminum content of brain, muscle, and bone increases in Alzheimer's patients. Neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) are found in patients suffering from aluminum encephalopathy and Alzheimer's disease. Symptoms of "dialysis dementia" include speech disorders, dementia, convulsions, and myoclonus. People of Guam and Rota have an unusually high incidence of neurodegenerative diseases. The volcanic soil in the region of Guam where the high incidence of ALS-PD occurs contains high levels of aluminum and manganese. Neurological effects have also been observed in rats orally exposed to aluminum compounds.

The respiratory system appears to be the primary target following inhalation exposure to aluminum. Alveolar proteinosis has been observed in guinea pigs, rats, and hamsters exposed to aluminum powders (Gross et al., 1973). Rats and guinea pigs exposed to aluminum chlorohydrate exhibited an increase in alveolar macrophages, increased relative lung weight, and multifocal granulomatous pneumonia (Cavender et al., 1978).

No decrease in reproductive capacity, hormonal abnormalities, or testicular histopathology was observed in male rats exposed to aluminum in drinking water for 90 days (Dixon et al., 1979).

However, male rats exposed to aluminum (as aluminum chloride) via gavage for 6 months exhibited decreased spermatozoa counts and sperm motility, and testicular histological and histochemical changes (Krasovskii et al., 1979).

Subchronic and chronic reference doses and reference concentrations have not been derived for aluminum.

Male rats exposed to drinking water containing aluminum (as aluminum potassium sulfate) for a lifetime exhibited increases in unspecified malignant and nonmalignant tumors (Schroeder and Mitchener, 1975a), and similarly exposed female mice exhibited an increased incidence of leukemia (Schroeder and Mitchener, 1975b). Rats and guinea pigs exposed via inhalation to aluminum chlorohydrate developed lung granulomas (Cavender et al., 1978), while granulomatous foci developed in similarly exposed male hamsters (Drew et al., 1974).

The U.S. EPA has not evaluated aluminum or aluminum compounds for carcinogenicity, and a weight-of-evidence classification is currently not assigned. Retrieve Toxicity Profiles Formal Version

Last Updated 8/29/97

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