Aluminium oxide has many applications in which its properties of extraordinary hardness and thermal stability are exploited. Examples of products incorporating aluminium oxide include abrasive materials, bone substitutes, melting pots and watch glasses. Aluminium oxide is a classic antacid remedy for heartburn.

 

How can I come into contact with this material?

sanding papersanding paperWhen used as an abrasive material in sand paper (in which it is often described as corundum), inhalable aluminium oxide dust is generate. Therefore it is recommended to take appropriate protective measures like wearing of breathing masks or installation of suction exhaust pipes in cases where high level usage occurs in confined spaces. However aluminium oxide nanoparticles tend to clump together in (humid) air resulting in lower amounts of released inhalable dust. For medical purposes aluminium oxide is taken in orally in form of tablets as a treatment for heartburn. Aluminium oxide is tightly bound in products such as watch glasses, pots and other ceramics and there is very little possibility for aluminium oxide nanoparticles to enter the human body from these products.

 

Is there any risk from this material to humans and the environment?

Aluminium oxides rank amongst the less toxic substances and only exhibit toxic effects in high concentrations. Inhalation of aluminium oxide dust should be avoided, but there is no evidence of significant harm to the lungs associated with the inhalation of aluminium oxide dust. Oral intake (swallowing) of aluminium oxide nanoparticles like in tablets used to treat the symptoms of heartburn is considered to be non-toxic. However, the oral intake of aluminium oxide over a long time period should be avoided as elevated aluminium levels in the blood could cause side effects on human health.

 

Conclusion

In our everyday life the human body is only exposed to very small amounts of aluminium oxide nanoparticles and there is no known danger associated with this material for human health.

 

By the way...

  • Pure aluminium oxide nanoparticles cannot pass the blood-brain barrier.
  • Dissolved aluminium salts do not increase the risk of contracting Alzheimer's disease

 

 

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