News / Arts & Entertainment

New Documentary Explores Aluminum's 'Dark Side'

New Documentary Explores Aluminum's 'Dark Side'i
X
April 29, 2013 11:47 PM
Aluminum is everywhere. From airplanes to cooking pans, this versatile, light-weight metal has been around for generations. And its many benefits have made life easier and more convenient for millions of people. But a new documentary portrays what the filmmaker describes as the "dark side" of aluminum. VOA’s Julie Taboh attended the movie's world premiere at a Washington film festival and has this report.
Aluminum is everywhere.  From airplanes to cooking pans, this versatile, light-weight metal has been around for generations.  And its many benefits have made life easier and more convenient for millions of people. But a new documentary portrays what the filmmaker describes as the "dark side" of aluminum.  
 
It’s in the cans we drink out of and in the products we like to cook with.
 
Aluminum is everywhere, including in products that make us feel better, safer and cleaner.  Like antacids, sunscreen and antiperspirants.
 
But Austrian filmmaker Bert Ehgartner says there’s another side to aluminum. “It has a lot of good plus[es].  But there is also a dark side of this metal," he said. 
 
Ehgartner explores that alleged "dark side" in his new film, The Age of Aluminum.
 
The documentary shows the mining and production of aluminum and its resulting impact on the environment.
 
One sees the mining of bauxite, an ore that contains a large amount of aluminum hydroxide, from a rainforest in Brazil. The film shows how large areas of rain forest have to be dug up in order to reach the bauxite.
 
The toxic waste from aluminum production is then discarded over vast areas. 
 
And according to the film, the mining waste is apparently causing health problems for the nearby inhabitants who swim in the water, drink it and cook with it.  The children complain of itchy skin and have developed blisters.
 
The film also includes footage of a 2010 accident at a Hungarian aluminum factory.
 
Ehgartner says aluminum is also making people sick, in other ways - through the very products that make life more convenient, and safer, for so many.
 
“I was surprised, for example, when I found it in vaccines or when I found it in certain kinds of cosmetics and antiperspirants, even in foods. You find it everywhere," he said. 
 
Scientists in the film link aluminum found in those products to a wide variety of modern diseases, including breast cancer, Alzheimer’s, allergies and Autism.
 
Neuroscientist Dr. Christopher Shaw is particularly concerned about the link between aluminum, which can be found in drinking water and antacid medication, and Alzheimer’s, a fatal brain-wasting disease. 
 
“Many researchers are beginning to accept that aluminum has some sort of role to play in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.  Whether it does in others is still an open question, but Alzheimer’s is really coming into focus and it's fairly clear that the body burden of aluminum from all the sources to which humans are exposed may be contributing to Alzheimer's disease," he said. 
 
But not everyone agrees with those findings.
 
The Aluminum Association declined our request for an interview but issued the following statement: 
 
The Age of Aluminum deviates from decades of mainstream scientific research and consensus. The weight of published scientific evidence demonstrates no direct causative link between aluminum and the illnesses depicted in the film.
 
“My first message would be don’t panic," said Melissa Perry, an epidemiologist at The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services. 
 
“The current status of the evidence does not give us definitive conclusions that aluminum is linked to Alzheimer’s disease or other brain problems, or breast cancer. This means it’s critically important to conduct more human studies," she added. 
 
More studies - that's a point on which even The Age of Aluminum filmmaker Bert Ehgartner agrees. 
 
“So aluminum is really a threat for mankind and we don’t have enough research, and that’s one of the reasons why I made this film - to give support to the scientists who want to do more research. And I think it’s really necessary," he said. 
 
Experts on both sides of the issue agree that aluminum is here to stay.  They also agree that what is needed, at the very least, is more research to understand the link between aluminum and human health.

You May Like

Video Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
X
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

Country-pop singer, Lizzie Sider sits down with "Border Crossings" host Larry London to perform songs from her new album, “Butterfly,” and to talk about her anti-bullying tour.

Blogs

African Music Treasures