Aluminum, in the form of aluminum salts, is added to some (but not all) vaccines in Canada. The salts are in the form of aluminum hydroxide, aluminum phosphate or potassium aluminum sulfate (alum). These are the only adjuvants added to vaccines in Canada. An adjuvant is used to enhance the response of the immune system and means a smaller amount of antigen material can be used in the vaccine. An antigen is the weak or dead virus or bacteria. The antigen is what stimulates the immune system to develop antibodies. This is what happens naturally every time you are exposed to a virus or a bacterium. It starts when you’re born and continues for your whole life.
These aluminum salts have been used in vaccines in Canada since the mid-1920s.
Aluminum is pretty common everywhere in our environment. Some examples: cast aluminum pots, cookie sheets, cars, airplanes, some antacids, baking powders, Asprin coatings, antiperspirants and tap water worldwide. It also found naturally in potatoes, tea and spinach.
It’s been estimated that each person’s average intake of aluminum is about 5 mg/day. That’s 25 times more than what you would get from using aluminum cookware. If you take an antacid, you’ll be getting about 1000 times as much aluminum as you get from your veggies.
The LD50 for aluminum sulfate is 6200 micrograms/kilogram (oral,mouse) which would be about 500 grams in an 80 kg person. Realistically, the greatest concern would be excessive use of antacids and antiperspirants and there has been some toxicity shown for daily amounts in excess of 40 mg/kg (about 3.2 g in an 80 kg person).
People are generally more worried about newborns. According to one source, in the first 6 months, a baby will receive about 4 mg of aluminum from vaccines, about 10 mg from breast milk, about 40 mg from infant formula and over 120 mg from soy-based formula.
Aluminum is eliminated from the body fairly quickly. About half in the bloodstream is eliminated within 24 hours and 75% within 2 weeks. Some does remain in the body, mostly in the bones (60%) and in the lungs (25%). About 1% remains in the brain. By adulthood, a child will have accumulated between 50-100 mg of aluminum. Most of that will have come from food.
Health Canada limits aluminum level in vaccines to no more than 1.25 mg/single human dose. That’s pretty much the same standard as the WHO and standards in Europe.
Aluminum is used in vaccines for Hepatitus A&B, DPT, etc but is not used in vaccines for flu, polio and live viral vaccines such as measles, chickenpox, mumps, etc.
Although aluminum salts are considered to be generally pretty safe, intake of high amounts can be of some concern. The amounts in vaccines are considered to be small enough to be trivial, considering other normal sources that individuals are exposed to.