MadSci Network: Medicine

Re: Does the aluminum oxide dust coming from microdermabrasion machines cause

Date: Thu Sep 30 14:54:15 1999
Posted By: Bernadette Baca, Health Physicist, Uranium Licensing Project, Texas Dept of Health-Bureau of Radiation Control
Area of science: Medicine
ID: 937154604.Me

Aluminum Oxide is becoming a more and more popular substitute for silicon 
in abrasion processes.  While there are advantages for the switch, there 
are still precautions in its use.  As with any material used in abrasive 
processes, dust and other particulate material are generated.  It is these 
so called by-products which are considered harmful to a worker's health.  
When just about any inert material (in dust and/or particulate form) enters 
the lungs, the body reacts to the foreign material in order to protect 
itself.  This reaction would manifest itself in a chronic cough as the body 
tries to get rid of the insoluble material.  Also, the abrasive nature of 
the materials scratch and cut the lining of the lungs.  Despite ever so 
small cuts and abrasions, enough of them create scarring in the lungs which 
would then lead to pulmonary fibrosis.  If severe enough, pulmonary 
fibrosis can be fatal.

Aluminum Oxide is considered rather inert.  Just about all literature lists 
it as a noncarcinogenic material.  However, because of its abrasive nature, 
it is stated to be linked to chronic coughing and/or asthma as well as 
pulmonary fibrosis.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and American 
Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienist (ACGIH) suggest a 10 mg/cm3 
concentration of aluminum oxide averaged over an 8 hour workday exposure 
for workers.

Studies and research on the toxic effects of aluminum suggests that in 
concentrations higher than normal living and environmental exposures (to 
include normal household living) could affect the nervous system and 
skeletal development.  Studies with young rabbits showed a correlation to 
elevated aluminum exposures to the slower development of their neurological 
and skeletal systems.  Other birth defects are being researched to see if 
high concentrations of aluminum contributed to the effect.  Research has 
also focused on the correlation between Alzheimer's Disease and elevated 
aluminum concentration in the affected individual's brain.  Researchers are 
still not clear if elevated aluminum concentrations contributes to an 
individual becoming affected by Alzheimer's Disease or if an individual 
already affected with Alzheimer's causes aluminum levels to become 
elevated.  Studies in this area are still on going. 

Aluminum is a common and widely used metal.  Its relatively inert and 
nontoxic effects have made it a choice of materials for many products.  It 
is not an essential element in the body, but is tolerated at mild levels 
with few ill effects.  However, as with any substance, though rated 
relatively harmless, too much of any one thing can at some point in time 
become harmful.

Additional information on a wide variety of other compounds and materials 
may be researched through Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS).  The 
following websites provide information as well as additional links to 

EPA Fact Sheets -
MSDS links -

Current Queue | Current Queue for Medicine | Medicine archives

Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on Medicine.

MadSci Home | Information | Search | Random Knowledge Generator | MadSci Archives | Mad Library | MAD Labs | MAD FAQs | Ask a ? | Join Us! | Help Support MadSci

MadSci Network,
© 1995-1999. All rights reserved.