The discrepancy in previous reports of the action of aluminium on the lung may be explained by differences between stamped and granular aluminium powders. A stamped powder of the variety causing pulmonary fibrosis showed a brisk reaction with water, but a granular powder was unreactive. This difference is primarily due to the granular particles being covered by inert aluminium oxide, the formation of which is partially prevented in the stamping process by stearine and mineral oil. The reactivity of the flake-like stamped particles is also dependent on their large surface area per unit volume.
The appearance of aluminium pneumoconiosis in Britain is explained by the introduction of mineral oil into the stamping industry for, in contrast to stearine, mineral oil permits the powder to react with water. The lung damage is believed to be caused by a soluble form of aluminium.
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