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Aluminum oxide floors equals health risks?


Q. I'm anxious to buy new wood flooring for a remodeling project. I'm seeing flooring w/ aluminum oxide finishes but am having a hard time finding info on if this is harmful to one's health. Are these wood finishes hazardous to your health? Any HONEST information would be greatly appreciated.

Renee Gibson
Home Owner - Eau Claire, Wisconsin

April 2006

"All substances are poisons; there is none which is not a poison. The right dose differentiates a poison and a remedy." -- Paracelsus

A. Hi Renee. Aluminum oxide is one of the most prevalent materials in the earth's dirt, which you'll 'eat a peck of' in your lifetime -- so aluminum oxide by iteself can't be be called 'hazardous'. But if you breathe in high concentrations of dust/dirt of any sort, with aluminum oxide or anything else in it, it will be very bad for you.

I find it hard to believe products on the market release large quantities of aluminum oxide into the air from walking on them; it doesn't sound like a floor that quickly turns to dust is practical. Where did you hear that it does, or why do you feel that it might? Thanks.

Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey


A. Renee, if you are doing the installation wear safety gear. Err on the safe side.

Sheldon Taylor
Sheldon Taylor
supply chain electronics
Wake Forest, North Carolina


A. Sure, it's not harmful -- but what happens when you sand your floors? I'll tell you: our whole family is now sick with respiratory problems and have inhalers and are going for chest x-rays. Do not buy aluminum oxide floors unless you don't plan to live in your house. I'm 31 and after we sanded our floors I can barely walk up a flight of stairs. The companies should have warnings on the boxes. I am looking for a lawyer as I write this. I hope no one else goes through this.

Alex Gortan
- Victoria, BC

May 2018

thumbs up sign Hi Alex. Thanks for the warning and I hope the family starts feeling better; so sorry to hear of this.


Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

August 20, 2008

thumbsdown The argument that it must be safe because it is for sale is weak. Asbestos was for sale and was touted as a wonder material -fire retardant, strong, it reinforced concrete, it insulated, it dampened noise etc. But then we found out it was very toxic.

The corporations are not people with consciences, they are mindless financial machines maximizing profit for anonymous shareholders.
The governments do not have unlimited budgets for researching product safety.
Expecting both of those parties to be protecting you by doing research in advance of the commercialization of a product like aluminum oxide coated flooring is not realistic.

When we concentrate something (through mining) it can become toxic. And then when we bring it into our homes where it might enter the air or our feet, and then we re-breathe that air for 8 hours as we sleep etc. It is quite possible that something unhealthy might affect our health with such prolonged exposure and the potential for ingestion / inhalation.

Is there someone who has experience or knowledge about aluminum oxide and its effects? (someone who doesn't have an interest in profiting from the sale of aluminum oxide products) I have understood that Alzheimer's researchers feel there is a link between aluminum and the onset of Alzheimer's along the lines that these researchers tend to avoid cooking with aluminum utensils (again prolonged exposure and ingestion of trace amounts.)

Greg McKone
- Abbotsford BC Canada

August 2008

Sorry for your family's suffering. Renee said she wanted to buy floors; she didn't say she wanted to install them herself nor sand them. Sheldon warned her to wear safety gear if she was doing it herself, which hadn't occurred to me. I hope your family recovers fully and soon. Is there a floor topping which you think is safer, maybe varnish?

Yes, factory workers suffered asbestosis -- but I don't know whether there have there been any documented cases involving the general public as opposed to people working with it. Please offer quotes or stats if you have them; they're very welcome here. The point of opening the discussion by quoting Paracelsus was that most dangers revolve around concentrations. We agree on that much, Greg.

The aluminum-to-Alzheimer's-connection is an enduring myth based on an initial concern from decades ago. You don't have to believe the Alzheimer's Association, but they say:

" . . . The vast majority of mainstream scientists now believe that if aluminum plays any role at all in Alzheimer's, that role is small . . ."

". . . most mainstream health professionals believe, based on current knowledge, that exposure to aluminum is not a significant risk factor. Public health bodies sharing this conviction include the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Health Canada. . ."

" . . . Further, it is unlikely that people can significantly reduce their exposure to aluminum through such measures as avoiding aluminum-containing cookware, foil, beverage cans, medications and other products. . ."

NO dusts should ever be inhaled from sanding anything! -- whether it's varnish or polyurethane or fiberglass or plain wood dus. None of that garbage belongs in your lungs! And no matter what wood you are sanding, you may put some aluminum oxide dust into the air because the "sand" on most sandpaper is not actually "sand", but aluminum oxide abrasive. Yes, websites like this made possible by advertising, but we're not affiliated with "aluminum oxide products" and advertisements are labeled.


Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

May 17, 2011

A. Aluminum oxide that is in floors is man-made, it's used for its hardness to cut down on wear. It's not in dirt, and not all sandpaper is made of aluminum oxide; there is garnet, silicon carbide, emery, and has nothing in common with aluminum. Aluminum oxide is used for sandblasting. Aluminum oxide is the most used man-made abrasive because it has no free silica, which is what cuts your lungs. The aluminum oxide in floors is in the coating. I have worked in the manufacturing of aluminum oxide for 27 years.

don snow
- Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, usa

May 2017

thumbs up sign Thanks for the industry insight, Don. You manufacture your aluminum oxide, but you are incorrect in saying "It's not in dirt...". As an element, aluminum comprises 8.2% of the earth's crust, and most of it is on the form of aluminum oxide. If you Google a range of reputable sources, you will see that aluminum oxide (Al2O3) comprises about 6.9% of the earth's crust.


Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

December 6, 2015

A. I can tell you that I did sand blasting on brass with a respirator and told my boss this. I had not the proper equipment to use; needless to say aluminum oxide is not to messed around with (as I sit here out of breath with massive chest pains!)

Rick Reindeau
- hawthorne New Jersey

March 6, 2016

A. I'm trying to find out if Aluminum Oxide is hazardous to health, as I'm looking to buy new wood floors. Thanks to those people for posting their health issues as a warning to others. I WILL STAY AWAY FROM ALUMINUM OXIDE!

It's common knowledge that aluminum in deodorants is toxic. It would make sense that aluminum is toxic on floors as well, since walking barefoot could absorb aluminum through the skin, our largest organ. And breathing fumes from solvents and sanding dust would increase the exposure through the lungs as well, and increase the toxic effects.

Aluminum is a heavy metal. Many people may have a liver gene mutation that makes it impossible for their body to eliminate heavy metals which then build up in the body causing health problems. As many as 1 in 6 people in certain populations could be affected, according to my Environmental M.D. And it may not take a lot of exposure to cause health effects, because the new amounts of toxins combine with those already in your body to magnify the effects.

To anyone who has health problems related to aluminum oxide, or sanding old paint applied prior to 1977 (lead poisoning from sanding dust), consider seeing an M.D. with a specialty in Environmental Medicine. There are treatments to help combat the affects of environmental toxins, and only a doctor trained in this specialty is knowledgeable.
My health has greatly improved as a result of treatment.

Kay Lake
- Los Angeles, California, USA

August 12, 2016

A. Kay Lake,
While I appreciate that you're trying to caution people from things which might adversely affect their health, it is also important to not propagate unfounded or false information.
"It's common knowledge that aluminum in deodorants is toxic." Well, the FDA and CDC disagree with the assertion that aluminum chlorohydrate (the form of aluminum in deodorant) is toxic at all. This doesn't guarantee that it isn't toxic, but it does means it's not "common knowledge".
"Aluminum is a heavy metal." No. This is just not true at all. Aluminum is not a heavy metal by any definition used by any chemist or metallurgist. Furthermore, aluminum cannot bioaccumulate in healthy people. Kidneys effectively remove aluminum from the blood. The liver has nothing to do with it.
Now, aluminum oxide dust is an irritant, and as such it can cause tissue damage to sensitive tissues exposed to it. It can scratch corneas and it can cause pulmonary edema. It must be respected and proper protective equipment must be worn when working with it. But please don't raise false alarms where alarms should not be raised. Doing so is irresponsible in just the same fashion that anti-vaccination alarms are irresponsible.

Brian Henderson
- Denton, Texas, United States

March 9, 2017

thumbsdown The FDA and CDC and all the other "Alphabet Organizations" are just people like you or me. They are corruptible, susceptible to payoffs and can also just be incompetent. Thalidomide was legal, asbestos was legal, Round Up is legal, nicotine was not considered addictive or carcinogenic. Then we can get into things like the Tuskeegee Airmen experiments or even weaponized chemical agents in Viet Nam in the form of Agent Orange being made by the same company that makes Round Up today, that gets sprayed on most crops. Just because some Alphabet Agency ok's it, doesn't really mean what you think it means. And to your point, you spreading what a corrupt agency says is the same thing you are warning against.

Kim Holleman
Myself. - BROOKLYN, New York USA

March 2017

thumbs up sign Hi Kim. The idea isn't to spread pollyanna optimism and "what a corrupt agency says", nor conversely to spread what hypochondriacs and "natural medicine" fanatics say, but to try our best to spread the truth. Richard Feynman was especially gifted at explaining the idea .


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

May 13, 2017

"Heavy metal"? "Toxic"? This has to be the underdeveloped mind found only in an under educated country such as the USA! Never have I seen so much horse shit in a thread! I bet you believe in Gawd almighty too lol.

Peter Buxton
Ghost Blades - Belper, UK

May 2017

thumbs up sign Hi Peter. Facebook is the place for loud political arguments with strangers; this website tries to be a respite from it -- a place of polite, informed conversation as free from politics as practical.

If you wish to answer a reader's question, or disagree with an opinion someone has expressed, believe me, we'd love to hear what you have to say and the basis for it. Soft spoken, patient, generous, informed people are a rarity who it's nice to listen to; but offering mindless insults to all posters, to all Americans, and to all Theists is neither informative nor especially enjoyable.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

May 3, 2021

Unfortunately Peter isn't the one who brought politics into the discussion. Once you mention the word "toxic", the paranoids immediately bring up "the government" and peace can never be restored to the thread. Logic can no longer be used because these people reject it.

Take it from a 4chan user.

Adam Kid
- Arlington Virginia

May 2021

A. Hi Adam. Probably true, but it's easy to excuse a poster being slightly abusive to those who believe differently when they are feeling sick or whose family is sick. Further, they're not necessarily wrong just because government departments & nonprofit organizations disagree with them. But contributing no facts or references while calling everything horse shit, whole countries under-educated, and all religious people idiots is not appropriate in my opinion.

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

May 18, 2018

Q. OMG, question is regarding the continual white fine dust on the laminate flooring in the apt. I currently work in. Googling this condition leads me to believe it is aluminum oxide. I provide home care and live in 3 weeks at a time. I continually cough and am at my doctors with respiratory distress on my weeks off. I am asthmatic and my lungs are very easily comprised. The condo building is only a few years old. Each day in the rooms used the most is this fine buildup of dust? Does this sound familiar to anyone? My Dr. suggests this cannot be healthy.

Molly Rounds
- Ontario Canada

A. Hi Molly. Your doctor doubtless knows what he's talking about. I wouldn't know whether you have properly identified the cause of the dust or not, but if you are constantly inhaling some white dust, it's probably bad for you whatever it is.

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

June 24, 2018

A. Bulk perfect aluminum oxide is called sapphire.

Anodized aluminum, which is nowadays used everywhere (cookware, iPhone & MacBook surface), is actually using electrochemical method to make an aluminum oxide layer on the surface.

So we are touching aluminum oxide everyday anyway.

Ludwig von Lothringen
- Naperville, Illinois

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