I am responding to your question whether iontophoresis done thru electrodes consisting of stainless steel or aluminium i.e. steel consisting in major parts of iron, chromium and nickel, might be harmful for both, users and personnel handling the equipment. I appreciate if you post my answer on your forum
I am a MD (GP), PhD (biochemistry) MSc (pharmacology) with an 8-year-long-experience on metals from occupational medicine in galvano factories.
Based on scientific studies stainless steel can be regared as harmful devices, i.e. electrodes in iontophoresis or galvano-spa-bath. Both medical devices are based on the same electro-chemical laws.
With pure, medical aluminium it is a different thing. But ít must be pure aluminium (99,999% w/w)
Due to the electro-chemical reactions at the anode (positive part) metals in toxic states are released from the solid electrode and introduced into the body of the user. Those reactions are extensively used in galvano-chemistry and metallurgy for coating metal and plastic parts of engines with chromium, in order to harden the surface of the engine parts.
The skin of hands, i.d. palmar and plantar comprises approximately 2000 eccrine glands per 1 square centimetre producing exclusively the sweat. The skin is –in general – negatively charged, therefore the positively charged metals released from the anode-electrode are forced through the channel of the glands into the epidermis of the skin and further into the blood stream by electro-chemical laws.
There are tons of studies on workers having been exposed to chromium, nickel, cadmium platinium etc. many studies have shown the hazard effect of such metals on the health of the workers, starting in 1904 with a medical report from New York City (USA) describing toxic contact dermatitis at the hands of workers, who put their fingers in a bath containing platinium salts for development of a photography.
There is a recent study published in German language where my colleague, Margareta Griesz-Brisson, MD neurology, (http://www.hkmed.de/Body/BD-Studie.pdf
) discovered high concentrations of metals in the urine of patients after treatment with electrodes consisting of stainless steel electrodes. She quantified the amount of 34 different metals starting with lead (Pb) thru uranium (U). Blank urine, i.e. urine without electro-chemical exposure, did not show chromium (Cr), nickel (Ni), iron (Fe) or the rest of the metals. The concentration of the individual metals was higher than 20 microgram/liter urine – which is dangerously high. In contrast I found chromium concentration in workers from galvano-factories with an average chromium concentration of 7 microgram / liter urine.
Dr Griesz-Brisson MD used the electrodes of body detox LTD from Switzerland. Those electrodes are almost completely “dissolved” after approximately 30 hours of electrolysis – or 60 cycles of treatment.
With regard to aluminium please notice that the results on aluminium and Alzheimer are highly controversial. There is no scientific result showing a connection between aluminium and mental deficiencies. Further, salts of aluminium are used in several medications for treatment of gastritis. Aluminium salts are used as enhancers in immunological reactions in humans – although this is controversial due to production of side effects at the site of injection (e.g. myofaciitis of the musculus deloides of the upper arm-shoulder, with production of crystals of aluminium within the individual muscle cell). Therefore the German army is not using medications for immunization containing aluminium.
In conclusion one should avoid electrodes consisting of stainless steel for using in iontophoresis due to the possible induction of dermatitis and cancer. Iontophoresis and galvano-spa-bath are using almost the same electrical current.
Aluminium has a positive effect for treatment of hyperhydrosis palmaris et plantaris, If it is pure aluminium (which can be shown by multi chemical analysis, e.g. quadro-mass-spectroscopy) one cannot see any toxicological problem, based on the medical knowledge of 2009. For reasons of quality one should ask for a chemical analysis on the 20 major metals, i.e., impurities, of “pure aluminium”. To my knowledge such a multi-chemical analysis should not cost more than 200 EURO comprising the most relevant metals.
Electrodes made of pure zinc (99,999%), such as “detoxator”, are helping in the same way but might be better than aluminium, because zinc has well known positive healing effect on the epidermis of the skin. Further to that zinc is a poison for dermato-fungi and bacteria, preventing athletes foot.