Aluminum in Drinking Water

Aluminum is an extremely abundant metal in the earth’s crust. It is a health risk associated with dialysis patients. Aluminum can leach from rock and soil to enter any water source.  It can be found as aluminum hydroxide, which is a residual from the municipal feeding of aluminum sulfate.  It can also be present as sodium aluminate from a process known as clarification or precipitation softening. 

Contaminant  In Water As Secondary Maximum Contaminant Level


Aluminum (Al)



SMCL* = 0.05 to 0.2 mg/L

WHO† Guideline: 0.1 to 0.2 mg/L

Health Canada OG** = 0.1 to 0.2 mg/L

Sources of Contaminant

Rock and soil leaching

Potential Health Effects

High risk associated with dialysis patients

Treatment Methods

Point-of-Entry (POE)
Point-of-Use (POU)

Portable Cation Exchange***
Reverse Osmosis

*Secondary Maximum Contaminant Levels (SMCLs), or National Secondary Drinking Water Regulations (NSDWRs), are non-enforceable guidelines regulating contaminants that may cause cosmetic effects (such as skin or tooth discoloration) or aesthetic effects (such as taste, odor, or color) in drinking water. EPA recommends secondary standards to water systems but does not require systems to comply. However, states may choose to adopt them as enforceable standards.

**Operational Guidance Value (OG) established by Health Canada based on operational considerations.

***Cation exchange is not a preferred method for fully automatic home treatment systems due to the need for periodic acid regeneration. If this method is used, a tank exchange program is recommended so regeneration is handled by trained and qualified personnel at a central facility.

WHO† - World Health Organization

Click here to open WQA's Technical Fact Sheet on Aluminum.

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