Aluminum is one of the most common elements in earth’s crust and is always present in the environment in conjunction with other elements, like silicon. Some of the aluminum present in the environment, however, results from anthropogenic sources, like air pollution, surface run-off, and waste from the mining and smelting processes. While aluminum can be tolerated in low concentrations, in high ones, it can be extremely deleterious in the environment. According to the EPA, one third of the most contaminated sites in the United States have aluminum pollution. In just Tennessee, 43 miles of streams are impaired abnormally high aluminum levels.
In humans, high aluminum intake has been linked to degenerative brain disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. As for the environmental impact, aluminum is accumulated in the tissues of some aquatic plants, which can be detrimental to health upon ingestion by other species, as aluminum acts as a neurotoxin in many mammals. The release of aluminum into the environment is often in conjunction with acid mine draining, which causes acidification of the environment.
Although there are some ways to remove aluminum from water, they tend to leave other chemicals behind. Thus, it is best to prevent more aluminum from entering.