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What is Aluminum Fluoride?

By J.M. Densing
Updated May 17, 2024
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Aluminum fluoride is a compound that results when the metal aluminum combines with the mineral fluoride. In the United States and other regions around the world, fluoride is added to the public water supplies for the health benefits it can provide such as strengthening teeth and bones. Some studies have shown that the fluoride combines with aluminum that is also present in the water and that the resulting substance has negative health effects. In research performed on rats, aluminum fluoride has been shown to have a link to damaged brain cells. Many people purchase their drinking water in bottled form or use filters on the municipal supply in order to limit their exposure to this and other substances.

In modern times, many people worldwide receive their drinking water from a public, or municipal, supply. This water frequently has many substances added to it. Aluminum is often added as a clarifier to promote a crystal clear appearance. Fluoride is added for health benefits, primarily for the prevention of tooth decay in children. These additions to the water supply are usually established by national or local governments, and agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency in the US are responsible for enforcing these standards and monitoring for appropriate compliance.

Although the addition of fluoride, called fluoridation, has had some benefits, many people are concerned about safety. Fluoridation has resulted in a lower prevalence of tooth decay among children in areas where it is implemented. It has also resulted in some unwanted effects such as unattractive spotting on teeth, and issues with fragile bones, particularly when large quantities of fluoridated water are consumed. Of particular concern is the potential formation of aluminum fluoride, which can occur when the metal is present in fluoridated water.

One of the major issues with the presence of aluminum fluoride in the water supply is the potential harmful effects. There have been research studies that link consumption of water containing aluminum fluoride with brain cell damage. These studies showed that rats who consumed high doses of aluminum fluoride in their water showed cell damage in the brain similar to the type that occurs with Alzheimer's disease. There are also possible links to other premature aging effects such as brittle bones and kidney problems, although further study is needed.

Due to the possible dangers of the presence of aluminum fluoride and other substances in the water supply, many people elect to filter their water, or purchase bottled supplies. A variety of filters are available that are supposed to remove these substances. Some simple styles attach directly to the faucet or to a water pitcher or bottle. More complex systems may filter the water as it passes through the pipes, and it can be located under the sink or in another area such as the basement of a home.

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