Is use of aluminium foil safe?
Aluminium (Al) is after oxygen and silicon the third most abundant element, with average concentration of 8 mg/kg in the earth crust. Normally, it is extremely insoluble, bound primarily to aluminosilicates. However, under acidic and alkaline conditions, its solubility can be greatly increased. The released monomeric Al species are readily complexed by the available inorganic and organic ligands. Due to its high reactivity, Al has no physiological role in living organisms, but it is toxic. In humans, its neurotoxic effects are well documented. One of the routes of Al exposure, is consumption of food with high Al concentrations. Al is excreted from human body by urine. However, in subjects with reduced or no renal function, Al can be accumulated in the bones, soft tissues and brain.
Ageing is the main risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Al accumulates in human brain tissue with ageing. AD is the most prevalent neurodegenerative disease of the elderly and is characterized by regional specificity of neural aberrations associated with higher cognitive functions. Its bases are genetic mutations associated with a protein called amyloid-beta, a protein which has been heavily linked with the cause of all forms of AD. The role of Al in AD has been heavily disputed. Some researchers have hypothesis that Al accumulation in neurons is a consequence rather than a cause of neuronal loss, while the other believe that Al significantly contributes to AD. Even higher levels of Al have been found in the brains of individuals, diagnosed with an early-onset form of sporadic Alzheimer’s disease, who have experienced an unusually high exposure to Al through the environment or through their workplace.
Baking, cooking and the use of Al cookware and Al foil is not recommended when food items are acidic, or contain ligands (e.g. amino acids in meet), which are able to release or complex Al from foil or container in foodstuff.
Al is all around us. If we understand its chemistry and we do not interfere and compromise the environment with anthropogenic activities, Al does not represent threat for health of living organisms.
Radmila Milačič was discussing these issues in the "Good morning" show at RTVSLO. (40:37 onwards)