Water Talk: Aluminum in drinking water

We have developed a guideline value for aluminum in drinking water to protect the health of Canadians. Learn about the health effects of aluminum and how to reduce your exposure if it is present in your drinking water.

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Aluminum in drinking water

Aluminum is a metal found naturally in the environment. Aluminum can occur in natural sources of water when water dissolves minerals that contain aluminum. It can also enter water sources through human activity such as mining or industrial manufacturing processes. Aluminum may also be added during the treatment of drinking water to remove turbidity, organic matter, microorganisms or other contaminants. Aluminum can also enter drinking water if it is released from materials in the distribution system.

Levels of aluminum in water are generally low, but can vary across Canada. Concentrations tend to be higher in surface water than in groundwater.

The only way to know if you have aluminum in your drinking water is to have the water tested. If you are interested in testing your drinking water for the presence of aluminum, you should contact your municipality or local public health authority for advice and assistance.

Food is the main source of aluminum exposure to Canadians, but it can also be present in:

Health effects of aluminum in drinking water

Drinking water that contains high levels of aluminum may affect your nervous system.

If you have concerns about your drinking water or health, contact your public drinking water authority or public health authority for more information.

How to reduce your exposure to aluminum in drinking water

Aluminum will not enter the body through the skin or by breathing in vapours while showering or bathing. Bathing and showering in water that contains aluminum should not be a health risk.

You may wish to remove aluminum from drinking water in your home, particularly if you get your drinking water from a private well. This may be difficult because there are very few effective options for small systems or private water supplies.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding

You should have your drinking water tested if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or preparing infant formula and suspect that your drinking water may contain aluminum. If aluminum levels are above the guideline value, you may wish to use an alternate source of drinking water that you know is safe.

Limits for aluminum in drinking water in Canada

We have technical documents for various contaminants (the guidelines) that set out the basic parameters for every water authority in Canada. The parameters help water authorities achieve the cleanest, safest and most reliable drinking water possible.

We worked with provinces and territories to establish a maximum level of aluminum recommended for drinking water. The maximum acceptable concentration (MAC) is 2.9 milligrams per litre (mg/L). This level protects the health of all Canadians, including the most vulnerable members of society, such as infants and children.

We also established an operational guidance (OG) value of 0.100 mg/L. This value helps water utilities optimize water treatment and distribution system operations.

Limits for aluminum in drinking water in other countries

Canada's operational guidance value of 0.100 mg/L is comparable to limits established by other countries and organizations. Some examples of limits in other jurisdictions include:

No international jurisdiction has regulated a maximum level of aluminum in drinking water.

Related information

Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality for Aluminum

If you have questions about the guidelines or aluminum in drinking water, you can contact us at:

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