Aluminum is the third most abundant mineral in the earth's crust. It is present in most animal and plant tissues and almost all natural water sources. Aluminum is a very reactive trivalent cation, which means it binds with other elements easily. In nature, the mineral is almost always combined with other elements such as oxygen, silicon, and fluorine. Aluminum poisoning or aluminum toxicity occurs when excessive levels build up in the body.
Exposure to aluminum is nearly unavoidable. The mineral is present in tap water because many water purification facilities use aluminum sulfate. Suspended particles of dust in the air contain aluminum. The levels of airborne aluminum vary depending on weather conditions, location and urban or industrial activity. Most people inhale very little aluminum but small amounts have been found in lung tissue and nearby lymph nodes.
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