By Helen West
Aluminum foil is a common household product that's often used in cooking.
Some claim that using aluminum foil in cooking can cause aluminum to seep into your food and put your health at risk.
However, others say it's entirely safe to use.
This article explores the risks associated with using aluminum foil and determines whether or not it is acceptable for everyday use.
What Is Aluminum Foil?
Aluminum foil, or tin foil, is a paper-thin, shiny sheet of aluminum metal. It's made by rolling large slabs of aluminum until they are less than 0.2 mm thick.
It's used industrially for a variety of purposes, including packing, insulation and transportation. It's also widely available in grocery stores for household use.
At home, people use aluminum foil for food storage, to cover baking surfaces and to wrap foods, such as meats, to prevent them from losing moisture while cooking.
People may also use aluminum foil to wrap and protect more delicate foods, like vegetables, when grilling them.
Lastly, it can be used to line grill trays to keep things tidy and for scrubbing pans or grill grates to remove stubborn stains and residue.
Summary: Aluminum foil is a thin, versatile metal commonly used around the home, particularly in cooking.
There Are Small Amounts of Aluminum in Food
Aluminum is one of the most abundant metals on Earth (1).
In its natural state, it is bound to other elements like phosphate and sulfate in soil, rocks and clay.
However, it's also found in small amounts in the air, water and in your food.
Some foods, such as tea leaves, mushrooms, spinach and radishes, are also more likely to absorb and accumulate aluminum than other foods (2).
Additionally, some of the aluminum you eat comes from processed food additives, such as preservatives, coloring agents, anti-caking agents and thickeners.
The actual amount of aluminum present in the food you eat depends largely on the following factors:
• Absorption: How readily a food absorbs and holds on to aluminum.
• Soil: The aluminum content of the soil the food was grown in.
• Packaging: If the food has been packaged and stored in aluminum packaging.
• Additives: Whether the food has had certain additives added during processing.
Aluminum is also ingested through medications that have a high aluminum content, like antacids.
Regardless, the aluminum content of food and medication isn't considered to be a problem, as only a tiny amount of the aluminum you ingest is actually absorbed.
Summary: Aluminum is ingested through food, water and medication. However, most of the aluminum you ingest is passed in feces and urine and is not considered harmful.
Cooking With Aluminum Foil May Increase the Aluminum Content of Foods
Most of your aluminum intake comes from food.
This means that cooking with aluminum foil may increase the aluminum content of your diet.
• Temperature: Cooking at higher temperatures.
• Foods: Cooking with acidic foods, such as tomatoes, cabbage and rhubarb.
• Certain ingredients: Using salts and spices in your cooking.
However, the amount that permeates your food when cooking can vary.
For example, one study found that cooking red meat in aluminum foil could increase its aluminum content by between 89 percent and 378 percent (10).
Such studies have caused concern that the regular use of aluminum foil in cooking could be harmful to your health (9).
Summary: Cooking with aluminum foil can increase the amount of aluminum in your food. However, the amounts are very small and deemed safe by researchers.
Potential Health Risks of Too Much Aluminum
The day-to-day exposure to aluminum that you have through your food and cooking is considered safe.
This is because healthy people can efficiently excrete the small amounts of aluminum the body absorbs (12).
Nevertheless, dietary aluminum has been suggested as a potential factor in the development of Alzheimer's disease.
Alzheimer's disease is a neurological condition caused by a loss of brain cells. People with the condition experience memory loss and a reduction in brain function (13).
The cause of Alzheimer's is unknown, but it is thought to be due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors, which can damage the brain over time (14).
High levels of aluminum have been found in the brains of people with Alzheimer's.
However, as there is no link between people with a high intake of aluminum due to medications, such as antacids, and Alzheimer's, it's unclear if dietary aluminum is truly a cause of the disease (6).
But the exact role aluminum plays in the development and progression of Alzheimer's, if any, is yet to be determined.
Summary: High levels of dietary aluminum have been suggested as a contributing factor to Alzheimer's disease and IBD. However, its role in these conditions remains unclear.
How to Minimize Your Exposure to Aluminum When Cooking
It's impossible to completely remove aluminum from your diet, but you can work to minimize it.
The World Health Organization and Food and Drug Administration have agreed that levels below 2 mg per 2.2 pounds (1 kg) body weight per week are unlikely to cause health problems (22).
The European Food Safety Authority uses a more conservative estimate of 1 mg per 2.2 pounds (1 kg) body weight per week (2).
Here are some steps you can take to minimize unnecessary exposure to aluminum when cooking:
• Avoid high-heat cooking: Cook your foods at lower temperatures when possible.
• Use less aluminum foil: Reduce your use of aluminum foil for cooking, especially if cooking with acidic foods, like tomatoes or lemons.
• Use non-aluminum utensils: Use non-aluminum utensils to cook your food, such as glass or porcelain dishes and utensils.
Summary: Aluminum exposure can be reduced by decreasing your intake of highly processed foods and reducing your use of aluminum foil and aluminum cooking utensils.
Should You Stop Using Aluminum Foil?
Aluminum foil isn't considered dangerous, but it can increase the aluminum content of your diet by a small amount.
If you are concerned about the amount of aluminum in your diet, you may want to stop cooking with aluminum foil.
However, the amount of aluminum that foil contributes to your diet is likely insignificant.
As you are probably eating far below the amount of aluminum that is considered safe, removing aluminum foil from your cooking shouldn't be necessary.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Authority Nutrition.
California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.
High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.
Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.
California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.
As reported by AccuWeather:
In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.
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By Monir Ghaedi
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to keep most of Europe on pause, the EU aims for a breakthrough in its space program. The continent is seeking more than just a self-sufficient space industry competitive with China and the U.S.; the industry must also fit into the European Green Deal.
European satellites continue to provide data on climate change.