New Film Explores the Dangers of Aluminum

June 12, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. versatile [VUR-suh-tl, -tahyl] (adj.) – having different uses; multipurpose
ExampleCopper is a versatile metal used in making electrical wires, house pipes, and industrial machines.

2. dire [dahyuh r] (adj.) – very serious and alarming
Example: The water pollution caused by chemicals left the community in dire need for water supply.

3. expanse [ik-SPANS] (n.) – a wide space or area
Example: Commercial logging threatens to destroy the country’s vast expanse of forest.

4. deviate [DEE-vee-eyt ] (v.) –  to do or say something that is different from what is common or usual
Example:  Billy deviated from his family’s traditions by becoming an entertainer instead of a doctor.

5. mainstream [MEYN-streem] (adj.) – relating to ideas, attitudes or activities that are considered normal, common, or popular
Example: My sister prefers indie films and documentaries over the more popular mainstream movies.


Read the text below.
A new documentary entitled "The Age of Aluminum" shows the dark side of one of the world's most widely used metal – the aluminum.

Aluminum is a versatile and lightweight metal used in daily life. It is often found in cans and cooking pans, as well as vaccines [vak-SEEN or, esp. British, VAK-seen, -sin], sunscreen, and other products that make life safer and more convenient.

However, the film created by Bert Ehgatner strongly suggests that the use of aluminum has negative effects.

Firstly, the mining and production of aluminum have a dire impact on the environment and the people’s health. The film shows vast expanses of the Brazilian rain forest being dug up for bauxite [BAWK-sahyt], an ore containing aluminum oxide. Also, the toxic wastes released over large areas cause health problems to nearby residents, who then experience itchy skin and blisters.

Secondly, scientists in the film claim that products containing aluminum also make people sick. Some studies show a link between aluminum use and several diseases such as breast cancer, autism, allergies, and even Alzheimer's [AHLTS-hahy-merz, AWLTS-].

The Aluminum Association reacted by saying that the film deviates from mainstream scientific findings. According to the association, current medical evidence shows no final and valid connection between aluminum and the illnesses shown in the film.

In line with this, Melissa Perry, an epidemiologist [ep-i-dee-mee-OL-uh-jist, -dem-ee-] at George Washington University, advises people not to panic. She recommends that more human studies should be critically conducted. Even experts from the film agreed that more studies are needed to better understand the link between the use of aluminum and health.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         After reading the article, will you be more cautious in using aluminum products? Why or why not?
·         What effects do you think the film “Age of Aluminum” will have on the medical community? Please explain your answer.

Discussion B

·         In your opinion, why do some companies or businesses use harmful substances in their products?
·         How can people be safe from harmful substances that can be found in some products? Please explain your answer.


June 12, 2013