Aluminum is the third most abundant element in nature, behind oxygen and silicon, and is present in most natural waters. It typically found more in surface water than in groundwater. Aluminum may also enter water if is used in water treatment systems to remove contaminants.

Aluminum is a soft, silvery metal, used in many household items.  It is prized for being lightweight, non-corrosive, and malleable.

It is not regulated by the US as a harmful contaminant in water, though it may contribute to nuisance discoloration above 0.05-0.2 mg/L.


Health Limits:

Maine Maximum Exposure Guideline limit: 7000 ppb
USA Primary Drinking Water Standard limit: n/a
USA Secondary Drinking Water Standard limit: 0.05-0.2 mg/L

Additional Resources:

US Toxic Substances Portal: Aluminum (website)
Aluminum ToxFAQs Summary Sheet: Aluminum TOXFAQs (2 pg. pdf)
Canada Health: Aluminum Technical Guideline (22 pg. pdf)
Wikipedia: “Aluminum” (website)
Mining Data ( “Aluminum”
FASCINATING OVERVIEW: Aluminum Production and Environmental Impact, by GreenSpec, a UK green products resource group.

MEL Test Methods for Aluminum

Drinking Water – EPA 200.5 Rev. 4.2 (SDWA Compliant)
Wastewater – EPA 200.7 Rev. 4.4 (NPDES Compliant)
Solids & NPW – EPA 6010C Rev. 3 (SW846) (RCRA Compliant)

Sample Requirements


Container: plastic, glass
Volume: 250mL
Hold Time: 6 months if preserved with HNO3 to pH<2, otherwise 2 weeks
Preservation: HNO3 to pH<2


Container: plastic, glass, baggie
Volume: a least 150g
Hold Time: 6 months
Preservation: n/a

Aluminum, by Jurii (Wikimedia Commons).