How Aluminum Foil is slaughtering us and mother earth ?
Approx one kilogram of aluminum is used to create about 300 feet of foil (GreenFeet) , The disposal of this trash foil is also challenging. Foil discarded into the environment can take decades to degrade. Foil in a landfill could last at least 400 years, if not longer (GreenFeet). When aluminum foil is incinerated along with other trash, toxic metals and gases are released into the atmosphere. There is really no good way to dispose of aluminum except recycling.
Aluminum numbers among the most abundant elements: after oxygen and silicon, it is the most plentiful element found in the earth’s surface, making up over eight percent of the crust to a depth of ten miles and appearing in almost every common rock.
It takes around 4 tonnes of dried bauxite to produce 2 tonnes of alumina, which in turn, provides 1 tonne of aluminium. The conversion of alumina to aluminium is highly energy intensive so the cost of electricity has a significant impact on the price of aluminium.
Since bauxite occurs so close to the earth’s surface, mining procedures are relatively simple. Explosives are used to open up large pits in bauxite beds, after which the top layers of dirt and rock are cleared away. The exposed ore is then removed with front end loaders, piled in trucks or railroad cars, and transported to processing plants. Bauxite is heavy (generally, one ton of aluminum can be produced from four to six tons of the ore), so, to reduce the cost of transporting it, these plants are often situated as close as possible to the bauxite mines.
A tremendous amount of fossil fuels are used to mine, transport, and refine the ore. On average, it takes 15.7 kWh (kilowatt hour) of electricity to refine one kilogram of aluminum from alumina (an intermediate product in the conversion from bauxite to aluminum) (International Aluminum Institute). You should look at your electric bill to get an idea of how much energy a single kWh really is. And this is for just one step in the process. The full process, from mining to producing aluminum ingots, has been estimated to be responsible for 1% of the global human-induced greenhouse gas emissions that are causing global climate change (International Aluminum Institute). One percent is a heck of a lot for a single industry.
Aluminum foil’s popularity as a packaging material is due to its excellent impermeability to water vapor and gases. It also extends shelf life, uses less storage space, and generates less waste than many other packaging materials. The preference for aluminum in flexible packaging has consequently become a global phenomenon. Aluminum foil is inexpensive, durable, non-toxic, and greaseproof. In addition, it resists chemical attack and provides excellent electrical and non-magnetic shielding.
Creating aluminum foil from raw, virgin materials has a devastating impact on the environment. This large mining activity causes local erosion and deforestation, pollutes water sources, disrupts ecosystems, and produces air pollution. The biggest worry for most people is the possibility that aluminum could increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
It is evident that aluminum is widely used & most found metal in the Earth’s crust. This “Innocent metal” has plenty hazards when people get exposed to high concentrations( beyond threshold limit). Aluminum are ready to form as ions which is easily soluble in water thus causing major health problems. They get inside the human body through injection, ingestion and inhalation. Long lasting exposure may cause Dementia, Nervous Disorder, Listlessness, Pulmonary Fibrosis etc..
The main challenge faced by the agriculturist is the acidification of the soil, which happens due to aluminum too. This aluminum readily forms ions that get soluble in water thus leach the nutrients in the soil, leaving it acidic. These aluminum based acids still continue its journey reaching the herbivorous animals which eat these plants. These plants are already affected by the aluminum based acids. Not confining to this alone, it also cause hazards to birds which get fed from lakes which are acidified. These acidified lakes break the eco-system, causing decline in fishes and amphibians life. Thus the environment natural eco-chain is disturbed and leads to major disaster in some places. Thus aluminum, even though it helps in cutting down the carbon foot print and GHG’s, on the other side, it affects the human & other living organisms life.
Stop buying Aluminum foils , reject buying products packed in Aluminum. Remember it takes 400 years for a piece of Aluminum foil to decompose in earth until than it is a carrier of pollution .
Complied by @ rahulyogideveshwar
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Data compiled from various websites