Health effects of inhaling anodized aluminium

  • Thread starter BigFish
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Quick question (...and I hope I have this in the right forum)

Does anybody know anything about the effects of inhaling dust particles of anodized aluminium?

I am especially interested about finding information on any possible negative effects on the respratory and cardiovascular systems. (but any known health hazards would be appreciated)

I've tried wikipedia.org and several different tries on Google, but so far pretty much everything I've found has just been referencing why some people prefer to use anodized aluminium cookware.:grumpy:

Any and all help will truely be appreciated.
 

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  • #2
Evo
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Does anybody know anything about the effects of inhaling dust particles of anodized aluminium?
Where are you coming into contact with "dust particles" of anodized aluminum?

I can find no health hazards from anodized aluminum or even regular aluminum. Anything inhaled in large enough quantities can be a hazard, of course.

If you are working in a plant where anodized aluminum is being worked to where particles of it would somehow become airborne, I would assume you would be wearing some sort of face mask.

As for cookware

Aluminum: Aluminum is an excellent heat conductor. It’s lightweight, economical, and stacks up as the major “ingredient” in about half of cookware produced today. By itself, aluminum is a reactive metal, meaning it can react with acid or salty foods to release itself into the food product. Tomato sauce and sauerkraut are two examples of challenging foods. Also, an aluminum pot that is worn or pitted may release excess aluminum into foods.

Because of the leaching concern, many manufacturers further treat the aluminum to eliminate reactivity. By subjecting aluminum to electrochemical baths, manufacturers produce anodized aluminum. Anodized aluminum is also much easier to clean, and its surface is quite stick-resistant.

Are there any dangers? Starting in the 1970s, a number of concerns about aluminum causing Alzheimer’s disease prompted some consumers to discard their aluminum cookware. Today, scientific experts agree that aluminum cookware does not cause Alzheimer’s. As for the amounts of aluminum entering foods through cookware, the FDA offers this perspective:

Aluminum is the third most common element in the earth’s crust. It is widespread in foods.

A person using aluminum-containing antacids (at about 50 mg/tablet) may consume as much as 1,000 mg of aluminum per day.

A person using uncoated aluminum pans for all cooking would take in 3.5 mg/day.

The FDA states that our ordinary use and consumption of aluminum is entirely safe.

The only other concern raised with aluminum is not a chemical hazard, but a common-sense safety issue. At very high heat for extended time periods, an aluminum pan can “boil dry” and melt, causing burn injuries and/or fire, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. The Commission advises: Do not pre-heat an aluminum pan on high heat. If a pan overheats, do not pick it up until it has cooled. No rocket science here!

http://www.dmaonline.org/fppublic/connect56.html

More on the safety of aluminum and anodized aluminum can be found here

http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/CONSUMER/CON00036.html [Broken]
 
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  • #3
Moonbear
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It would also likely depend on the size of the particles. There are folks doing research on nano-sized particles as inhalation hazards, because these very small particles can get past the body's natural "barriers" and penetrate pretty far into the lungs, where they cause problems due to irritation. But that's not specific to the chemical composition of the particles, just any particles of such a small size. I don't know of anything specifically about anodized aluminum.
 
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Thanks very much for the info. My stepdad lately has been having some health problems and works with a machine that punches out small parts made from anodized aluminium. There is always a fine metallic dust in the area around his work station and neither he nor any of his co-workers wear respirators or even just a basic mask. I will pass on this info to my parents and if anyone comes across any info I will update them with it as well.
 
  • #5
Moonbear
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This doesn't apply specifically to anodized aluminum, but just aluminum, but from my understanding, just the inflammatory reaction to the "dust" is what causes the health problems, and doesn't require any specific toxicity due to the material itself (of course, that could be the case too, but I didn't see anything pop up in a quick search on the subject).

Environ Res. 1987 Apr;42(2):534-45.
Pulmonary response following intratracheal instillation of potroom dust from an aluminum reduction plant into rat lung.

White LR,
Steinegger AF,
Schlatter C.
Rats were examined for lung changes 7 days and 22 weeks after a single intratracheal instillation of potroom dust from an aluminum reduction plant. In the acute study, 0.5 mg potroom dust induced changes at the pulmonary surface, and a 5.0-mg dose caused marked changes both at the pulmonary surface and in lung tissue. By contrast, 5.0 mg virginal alumina caused only a mild increase in the number of polymorphonuclear leukocytes in the lung. In the long-term study, potroom dust, virginal alumina, and DQ12 alpha-quartz were instilled at a dose of 5.0 mg. In the cases of potroom dust and virginal alumina, all parameters measured had returned to control levels after 22 weeks, whereas DQ12 induced a massive inflammation and an accumulation of pulmonary surfactant. It is concluded that this air sample of potroom dust causes marked acute irritation and inflammation in rat lung and that this type of dust may therefore be active in human lung and thus contribute to the acute respiratory symptoms experienced by some potroom workers. However, despite the marked acute toxicity of the comparatively high 5.0-mg dose, rat lung appears to return to normal within 22 weeks with no signs of chronic toxicity from this single instillation.
PMID: 3569186 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/...=Retrieve&dopt=abstractplus&list_uids=3569186

Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2005;18(1):59-70.
Pneumotoxicity of dust from aluminum foundry and pure alumina: a comparative study of morphology and biomarkers in rats.

Halatek T,
Opalska B,
Lao I,
Stetkiewicz J,
Rydzynski K.
Department of Toxicology and Carcinogenesis, Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine, Lodz, Poland. [email protected]
OBJECTIVES: The overall objective was to assess the role of aluminum dust and fumes in the aluminum foundry (Al-F) in generating local inflammation in the respiratory tract, which may lead to induction and elicitation of occupational asthma and fibrosis. To understand the underlying mechanisms of involving particles from foundry, a long-term study was performed on rats. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Pure alpha-alumina (Al-P) or (Al-F) was intratracheally instillated to rats in doses of 20 mg suspended in 0.5 ml of saline. After 3, 6 and 9 months since instillation, the following biomarkers were assessed in lung tissues: Clara cell protein (CC16), hyaluronic acid (HA), total protein, metaloproteinases (MMP) in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF), and GSH-S-transferase (GST). Morphological study of lungs and cells in BALF sediment was also performed. RESULTS: In the long-term study, Al-F dust induced marked changes in both epithelial cells and lung tissues, leading to important remodeling in collagen deposit and elastase fibres after 6 and 9 months. By contrast, the same dose of Al-P caused an increase in the number of polymorphonuclear leukocytes in the lung and fibrosis, but the latter was manifested by only slight signs. The lung BALF showed a decreasing level of Clara cell protein and a markedly increased expression of MMP-2 and MMP-9. These findings suggest that there is an upregulation of MMP and an increase in epithelial cell death and Clara cells proliferation, which may contribute to the respiratory symptoms through remodeling of airways and alveolar structures. CONCLUSIONS: In conclusion, it must be said that CC16 is the most sensitive biomarker. Decreasing levels of this biomarker in BALF was observed in an early phase (3 months PE) of our study with serum aluminum (Al-S) concentration not exceeding 30 microg/L(-1). Foundry dust causes marked irritation and inflammation in the rat lung. In occupational exposure it may therefore be active in the human lung, and thus contribute to the chronic obturative pulmonary disease (COPD).
PMID: 16052892 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/...uids=16052892&query_hl=35&itool=pubmed_docsum

Environ Health Perspect. 2005 Nov;113(11):1561-8.
Consistent pulmonary and systemic responses from inhalation of fine concentrated ambient particles: roles of rat strains used and physicochemical properties.

Kodavanti UP,
Schladweiler MC,
Ledbetter AD,
McGee JK,
Walsh L,
Gilmour PS,
Highfill JW,
Davies D,
Pinkerton KE,
Richards JH,
Crissman K,
Andrews D,
Costa DL.
Pulmonary Toxicology Branch, Experimental Toxicology Division, Office of Research and Development, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27711, USA. [email protected]
Several studies have reported health effects of concentrated ambient particles (CAP) in rodents and humans; however, toxicity end points in rodents have provided inconsistent results. In 2000 we conducted six 1-day exposure studies where spontaneously hypertensive (SH) rats were exposed to filtered air or CAPs (< or = 2.5 microm, 1,138-1,765 microg/m3) for 4 hr (analyzed 1-3 hr afterward). In seven 2-day exposure studies in 2001, SH and Wistar Kyoto (WKY) rats were exposed to filtered air or CAP (< or = 2.5 microm, 144-2,758 microg/m3) for 4 hr/day times 2 days (analyzed 1 day afterward). Despite consistent and high CAP concentrations in the 1-day exposure studies, no biologic effects were noted. The exposure concentrations varied among the seven 2-day exposure studies. Except in the first study when CAP concentration was highest, lavageable total cells and macrophages decreased and neutrophils increased in WKY rats. SH rats demonstrated a consistent increase of lavage fluid gamma-glutamyltransferase activity and plasma fibrinogen. Inspiratory and expiratory times increased in SH but not in WKY rats. Significant correlations were found between CAP mass (microgram per cubic meter) and sulfate, organic carbon, or zinc. No biologic effects correlated with CAP mass. Despite low chamber mass in the last six of seven 2-day exposure studies, the levels of zinc, copper, and aluminum were enriched severalfold, and organic carbon was increased to some extent when expressed per milligram of CAP. Biologic effects were evident in those six studies. These studies demonstrate a pattern of rat strain-specific pulmonary and systemic effects that are not linked to high mass but appear to be dependent on CAP chemical composition.
PMID: 16263512 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

All of these are just the abstracts, and you'll have to search through your own library to get the full length articles for the first two. This last one is probably the least relevant, but the full length article is freely available here:
http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pubmed&pubmedid=16263512

You might be able to find more relevant information following the references in that.

Your father definitely should be wearing at least a respirator to work in an environment with a lot of dust in the air. Even if it turns out his current problems are unrelated, he should protect his future health and/or prevent worsening of the problem by using a respirator. If his employer isn't making them available, tell him to report them to OSHA to force them to do it for his and everyone else's health, or whatever relevant regulatory agency covers occupational safety if you aren't in the U.S.
 
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  • #6
Evo
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Thanks very much for the info. My stepdad lately has been having some health problems and works with a machine that punches out small parts made from anodized aluminium. There is always a fine metallic dust in the area around his work station and neither he nor any of his co-workers wear respirators or even just a basic mask. I will pass on this info to my parents and if anyone comes across any info I will update them with it as well.
It sounds as if he should not only be wearing a respirator but safety goggles that completely cover his eyes. If he works in the US, his employer is more than likely in violation.
 
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  • #7
Q_Goest
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Hi BigFish,
My stepdad lately has been having some health problems ...
You didn't mention what kind of health problems, though you seem to be implying respitory problems.

Industry works with "Material Safety Data Sheets" (MSDS) to determine what type of health or safety hazard a particular material may represent. For aluminum dust, you can find that here:
http://www.eagerplastics.com/almsds.htm

If you do a search on MSDS and ALUMINUM, ANODIZED, DUST, or any combination thereof, you can find a lot more about any health issues. Here are couple of hits I got that essentially answer the question you're asking:
http://www.finishing.com/261/57.shtml
http://www.finishing.com/381/64.shtml

In short, it doesn't look like anodized aluminum dust is much of a health risk, though I'd agree with the others here that if there's a significant amount of dust, or if you work with this product every day, it would be best to use a respirator. Still, it doesn't seem to be implicated in any significant health issue. People in the welding, machining and fabricating industry are constantly exposed to similar sources of dust, but I rarely see people wearing respirators for these types of fine dust particles. Without knowing more about the case, it doesn't seem to me there would be any serious health issues from breathing in a small amount of dust.

Note also that the amount of dust generated by punching operations is extremely slight compared to grinding operations. Also, grinding throws the particles into the air whereas punching doesn't. Punching aluminum sheet isn't likely to be a problem. Now if the shop has a lot of grinding going on, that might change things.
 
  • #8
Moonbear
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The MSDS will only address issues related to specific toxicity of the anodized aluminum, which there doesn't appear to be. It does not address generalized or non-specific irritation/inflammation from dust. Even non-toxic dust can be a significant irritant. That's the focus of the research I mentioned above, particularly as nanotechnology is becoming a hot field and those finer dust particles are being introduced to the workplace atmosphere. I didn't find the publications of the specific group I know of on my quick search (didn't look for them by name) but they are at NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health).
 
  • #9
Q_Goest
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Hi Moonbear,
Another thing the MSDS does is provide employers guidance on personal protection. If an MSDS doesn't specifically address a type of personal protective gear, I suspect it will be hard to make a case in court for employer negligence. Section 8 covers this. Note the employer is responsible for maintaining a copy of the MSDS, which should be readily available to any employee - something I'd suggest BigFish look into.
 

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