Aluminum Excretion and Body Retention

26Al studies have shown that most aluminum entering blood is excreted in the urine, with only approximately 1% lost in feces. In these studies, intersubject variability was conspicuous, such that 1 and 5 days after intake the range of fractional aluminum excretions was 0.5-0.8 and 0.6-0.9, respectively. In another study employing a single volunteer, the long-term retention of aluminum was determined. At early times this volunteer showed a retention pattern consistent with the mean of that found in the short-term study. However, approximately 4% of injected aluminum was retained for years. This finding indicates that under conditions of continuous intake, aluminum is accumulated by the body, even in subjects with normal kidney function.

From a retention equation, and assuming daily systemic uptakes of 15 mg of aluminum, terminal body burdens of the metal were predicted. The calculations suggested that 50 years of continuous uptake of aluminum should give rise to body burdens of 2-7 mg. This estimate is lower than others based on the results of chemical analyses (35-60 mg). It is suggested that the most likely reasons for this discrepancy are errors in the extrapolation of body burden from the results of the chemical analysis of small pieces of tissue and errors due to the measurement of samples that have become contaminated with environmental aluminum (i.e., dust).

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