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

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Beyond Category

Pianist Myra Melford’s new CD “Life Carries Me This Way” features solo piano interpretations of drawings by modern artist Don Reich. She performs songs from the album, talks about turning art into music, and joins host Eric Felten in some Chicago boogie-woogie on "Beyond Category."