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Get Informed | Aluminum

What is Aluminum?

Aluminum is what defines the crust of the Earth which is mostly aluminum silicates. The common source of aluminum is the natural or induced weathering of aluminum-rich soil and bedrock in tropical climates which results in the formation of bauxite, a mix of aluminum and iron oxides. Aluminum metal appears silvery-white but does not occur naturally as a metal; it is always part of a compound. Bauxite is processed to separate the aluminum oxides from the iron oxides to produce a refined aluminum oxide known as alumina. To separate the aluminum from the oxygen requires a great amount of electricity which is why aluminum metal appeared so late in human history.

Among its many uses, aluminum is also used by some private water systems as a chemical additive to remove turbidity, particles, pathogens, and other metals from the drinking water during the treatment process. The aluminum is typically added as aluminum sulfate, but when the chemical reacts with the alkalinity in the water, an aluminum hydroxide precipitate or particle is formed that is ultimately removed from the water. The process of forming the particle and removing the particle from the water helps to reduce the metal content, Turbidity, microbiological population, and organic content of the water. Aluminum can be released into water from cookware, consumer products (antacids, cosmetics, and food additives), industrial applications, and beverage containers and can be released to the environment naturally through weathering or during mining and ore processing.

How Does Aluminum Become a problem?

In some cases we have seen elevated levels of aluminum in water systems with a corrosion or a microbiological induced corrosion issue and in these cases the aluminum concentration exceeded the recommended maximum level of 0.2 mg/L. High concentrations of aluminum may be associated with water that is either acidic or highly alkaline.

There is a story that a cook would boil tomatoes in his aluminum pots to remove stains from the pots. This happened because the acidic tomatoes would dissolve the aluminum stain. Unfortunately, the cook would then use the tomatoes and water to make meals, not realizing that the aluminum in the stain was now in the water.

Aluminum can interfere with the body's ability to process phosphate. We have also seen problems in rural areas that rely on the use of water wells for drinking water and geothermal wells to heat and cool their home. The material used to Grout or act as the geothermal contact is a high-solids bentonite grout, i.e., high in clay, aluminum, and silica. The primary concern is not specially the aluminum or other trace elements in the grout, but that the grout can migrate if either the water well or geothermal contact is not properly constructed.

What are the Health Risks for Aluminum?

It has been suggested that long-term exposure to aluminum may be associated with adult degenerative neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, bone disease, kidney disease, and dialysis patients are vulnerable to aluminum toxicity. In children, aluminum exposure may contribute to birth defects, bone disease, and the inhibition of brain development/function.  The drinking water standard for aluminum has been set for aesthetic reasons and not because of a primary health concern.

What are the Standards for Aluminum?

The secondary drinking water standard ranges from 0.05 to 0.2 mg/L, depending on the water chemistry. At these levels the water may appear gray.

Get Tested | Aluminum

Unlike most contaminants in drinking water, aluminum does impart a noticeable or observable problem with the water, but this condition may also suggest other problems with your drinking water. Elevated levels of aluminum may be present if the water appears gray or the water has gray particles, i.e., the water appears colored. Your best course of action is to get your water tested and compile as much information as possible about your water supply source, well construction, surrounding land-use, and local geology.

Note -Do not just test your water for aluminum because there may be other primary and secondary drinking water standards that are elevated or that may interfere with the proposed remediation system. High aluminum may be related to a bacterial problem with the water.

Level 1 | Observational Self-Testing

Level 1 Testing is done with simple observations that an individual can make with their own senses such as sight, smell, and taste. These observations can be readily apparent or can be observed as they change over time. In addition, accessible related information about the home can also be used to narrow down the cause of your water issues.

Observations for Aluminum

At present, there are no self or at-home screening tests for aluminum in drinking water, however you may have an aluminum problem if:

  • The drinking water appears gray and/or has gray particles.
  • You have a corrosion problem with the water or a problem with microbiologically induced corrosion. Therefore, the sample warning signs of a corrosion problem may suggest a problem with aluminum.
  • The pH of the water is < 5 or over 7.5 (guideline) depends on water chemistry.
  • You get your drinking water from an area with mining activity.
  • You get your drinking water from a source that uses aluminum as a chemical additive to treat your drinking water.
  • Blood or urine testing shows high levels of aluminum.
Level 1 | Self-Test Web App
To do a quick and easy self diagnosis of your water, click the button below.
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Level 2 | Do-It-Yourself Testing

Level 2 Testing is Do-It-Yourself testing that can be done in your own home using a Testing Kit. After you’ve done Level 1 Testing, Level 2 Testing can confirm if your observations are correct. If your test results reveal the presence of a contaminant that is cause for concern, you can either proceed to determine the best treatment (see below) or continue to Level 3 Testing.

Notes on Level 2 Testing for Aluminum

We are not aware of any do-it-yourself home screening tests for aluminum, but aluminum can cause the water to have a grayish to a white appearance that may be associated with corrosion or a bacterial problem.

Recommended Level 2 Tests
Crystal QuestCountertop Water Filter With Three Cartridges

<div class="product-note in-L6-bromate">Note: If the concentration is < 0.01 mg/L</div>
<div class="product-note in-L4-methyl-tertiary">Note: Concentrations < 40 ppb</div>

View
Filter WaterWater Softener and Whole-House Dual System (Code A27AC)

<div class="product-note in-L6-beta-particles">Note: If the beta  dosage equivalent is < 4 millirems/year and Radium 226 + Radium 228 is < 5 pCi/L - (POE Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-radium-226-and-radium-228">Note: If combined radium concentration is < 5 pCi/L and alpha, beta, uranium, and radon are low - (POE Device)</div>

View
Recommended Products
Crystal QuestST-CRYS-D-02 | Countertop Water Filter With Three Cartridges

<div class="product-note in-L6-bromate">Note: If the concentration is < 0.01 mg/L</div>
<div class="product-note in-L4-methyl-tertiary">Note: Concentrations < 40 ppb</div>

View
Filter WaterLT-FILT-W-02 | Water Softener and Whole-House Dual System

<div class="product-note in-L6-beta-particles">Note: If the beta  dosage equivalent is < 4 millirems/year and Radium 226 + Radium 228 is < 5 pCi/L - (POE Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-radium-226-and-radium-228">Note: If combined radium concentration is < 5 pCi/L and alpha, beta, uranium, and radon are low - (POE Device)</div>

View

Level 3 | Informational Testing

Level 3 Testing is done through an accredited Water Testing Laboratory. With Level 3 Testing, you can order a testing kit that is used to prepare your sample and submit it to the lab. By utilizing a lab, you have the assurance that a certified water expert had analyzed your water sample. If your test results reveal the presence of a contaminant that is cause for concern, you can either proceed to determine the best treatment options (see below) or continue to Level 4 Testing - Certified Testing.

Notes on Level 3 Testing for Aluminum

If you are on a city water source, it is possible the water contains some aluminum that may be associated with the water treatment process, but the level is likely low.  For this source, we recommend the National Testing Labs City Water Check Basic. If you are on a private water source, such as a well, elevated aluminum may be associated with a corrosion-related problem or a problem associated with the geology of your area. If you do not suspect a corrosion problem we would recommend the National Testing Labs WaterCheck Basic, but if you suspect a corrosion problem, we would suggest adding the National Testing Labs Corrosion Check package.

Recommended Level 3 Tests
Crystal QuestCountertop Water Filter With Three Cartridges

<div class="product-note in-L6-bromate">Note: If the concentration is < 0.01 mg/L</div>
<div class="product-note in-L4-methyl-tertiary">Note: Concentrations < 40 ppb</div>

View
Filter WaterWater Softener and Whole-House Dual System (Code A27AC)

<div class="product-note in-L6-beta-particles">Note: If the beta  dosage equivalent is < 4 millirems/year and Radium 226 + Radium 228 is < 5 pCi/L - (POE Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-radium-226-and-radium-228">Note: If combined radium concentration is < 5 pCi/L and alpha, beta, uranium, and radon are low - (POE Device)</div>

View

Level 4 | Certified Testing

A Level 4 Certified Test Test uses chain-of-custody with a water professional coming to your home to prepare the water sample and then works with an accredited laboratory in order to certify your test results. This type of testing not only gives you the highest level of assurance in the accuracy of your test results, but can also be used as a document in legal cases. For Baseline Testing, we recommend that you use Certified Testing.

Notes on Level 4 Testing for Aluminum

If you are having an aluminum issue and suspect it is related to a surrounding land-use or other activity, we strongly recommend ordering a Neighborhood Environmental Report.

Get Treatment | Aluminum

Because the presence of elevated aluminum may be an indicator of a number of related water quality issues and because aluminum can form a filterable particle, it is possible that the first step in the treatment process may be the use of a point-of-entry particle filtration system. Common water treatment systems include a combination of whole-house and point-of-use systems. Common whole-house treatment systems include ion exchange and maybe a water softener (cation exchange system); whereas, the point-of-use applications include reverse osmosis and distillation. Typically, the point-of-use devices require pretreatment to prepare the water to remove the target contaminant. Periodic testing should be maintained after the treatment system is in place to ensure objectives are being met and the system is operating properly. For most systems, the system will require maintenance on at least an annual basis.

Short Term Treatment

If it appears you are experiencing a problem with aluminum, do not boil your drinking water. An interim solution may be to use a point-of-use device or a bottled water source. Because other contaminants may be present in the water it would be advisable to have the water tested before and after the use of any point-of-use device.

Recommended Short-Term Treatments

<div class="product-note in-L6-bromate">Note: If the concentration is < 0.01 mg/L</div>
<div class="product-note in-L4-methyl-tertiary">Note: Concentrations < 40 ppb</div>

View

<div class="product-note in-L6-beta-particles">Note: If the beta  dosage equivalent is < 4 millirems/year and Radium 226 + Radium 228 is < 5 pCi/L - (POE Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-radium-226-and-radium-228">Note: If combined radium concentration is < 5 pCi/L and alpha, beta, uranium, and radon are low - (POE Device)</div>

View
Contact a KnowYourH2O Recommended Professional

Submit a Request for Consultation with the KnowYourH20 Team. Contact Us

Long Term Treatment

For the long-term, it may be necessary to install a water treatment system. For aluminum, the common water treatment technologies are particle filtration, ion-exchange, reverse osmosis, and distillation, but depending on the water chemistry, a water softener may work. Depending on the technology and the concentration of aluminum and other contaminants, the system may require a number of treatment approaches and a combination of a whole-house treatment and then a final point-of-use treatment as a final barrier.

Recommended Long-Term Treatments

<div class="product-note in-L6-bromate">Note: If the concentration is < 0.01 mg/L</div>
<div class="product-note in-L4-methyl-tertiary">Note: Concentrations < 40 ppb</div>

View

<div class="product-note in-L6-beta-particles">Note: If the beta  dosage equivalent is < 4 millirems/year and Radium 226 + Radium 228 is < 5 pCi/L - (POE Device)</div>
<div class="product-note in-L6-radium-226-and-radium-228">Note: If combined radium concentration is < 5 pCi/L and alpha, beta, uranium, and radon are low - (POE Device)</div>

View
Contact a KnowYourH2O Recommended Professional

Not Up for A DIY or You have a series of issues: Need Help Identifying a Local Know Your H20 Team Professional. Contact Us

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