Suspicions that aluminum in drinking water may cause Alzheimer's disease have been strengthened by a recent study by the British government.
Aluminum content in drinking water is not regulated in the United States under provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act, said Gayle Smith, director of the Bureau of Drinking Water and Sanitation for the Utah Department of Health. But in June, the state will begin testing and setting limits for aluminum when the current list of 23 regulated contaminants is expanded to 83, in accordance with a new mandate from Congress to the Environmental Protection Agency.The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that a study of 88 counties in England and Wales links a risk of developing the debilitating neurological disorder to drinking water that has levels of aluminum sulfate of more than .11 milligrams per liter.
Water quality standards in Europe set the maximum allowable aluminum per liter at .2 milligrams.
The report concludes adults who consume water with high aluminum concentrations run a 50 percent greater risk of developing Alz-heimer's disease than people whose drinking water contains almost no aluminum.
Smith said it is doubtful the aluminum limits in Utah water supplies have been documented because there hasn't been a limit set for the mineral.
Aluminum is used as a coagulant in treating surface water at some of Utah's water treatment plants, Smith said, but the aluminum added in the treatment process is precipitated out, leaving the residual concentrations of aluminum in the water no higher than before the treatment process.
Smith said the British study lends credence to existing concerns about the mineral but is not definitive at this point.