Back

Cadmium Toxicity

(Cadmium Poisoning)

Definition

Cadmium toxicity occurs when a person breathes in high levels of cadmium from the air, or eats food or drinks water containing high levels of cadmium. Cadmium is a naturally occurring metal. It is usually present in the environment as a mineral combined with other elements like oxygen, chlorine, or sulfur. Either short-term or long-term exposure to cadmium can cause serious health problems. If you suspect you have been exposed to cadmium, contact your doctor right away.

Causes

Most cadmium used in the United States is a byproduct of the productions of metals such as zinc, lead, and copper. It is also found in the following products:
When cadmium enters the air, it binds to small particles. It falls to the ground or water as rain or snow, and may contaminate fish, plants, and animals. Improper waste disposal and spills at hazardous waste sites may cause cadmium to leak into nearby water and soil.
Having skin contact with cadmium is not known to cause health problems, but the following exposures to cadmium can cause serious health problems:

Risk Factors

Anyone can develop cadmium toxicity as a result of cadmium exposure. Factors that increase your chances of being exposed to cadmium include:

Symptoms

Eating food or drinking water contaminated with high levels of cadmium can result in:
Breathing in cadmium can result in:
Lung Damage from Toxic Inhalation
Lung infection chemical inhalation
The damaged lung tissue (bottom) has a buildup of green mucus and thickened walls compared to healthy tissue (top).
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
There is no conclusive evidence that cadmium can cause lung cancer, but, as a precaution, the United States Environmental Protection Agency has classified cadmium as a probable carcinogen in humans.

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Your bodily fluids and tissues may be tested. This can be done with:

Treatment

There is no effective treatment for cadmium toxicity. Your treatment will be designed to help manage and relieve your symptoms.

Prevention

To help reduce your chances of getting cadmium toxicity, take the following steps:

RESOURCES

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov

United States Environmental Protection Agency http://www.epa.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety http://www.ccohs.ca

Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

References

Cadmium compounds. Environmental Protection Agency website. Available at: http://www.epa.gov/ttn/atw/hlthef/cadmium.html. Revised January 2000. Accessed February 16, 2015.

Cadmium poisoning. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated July 8, 2013. Accessed February 16, 2015.

Public health statement for cadmium. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry website. Available at: http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/phs/phs.asp?id=46&tid=15. Updated September 2012. Accessed February 16, 2015.

Safety and health topics: cadmium. US Department of Labor, Occupational Safety & Health Administration website. Available at: http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/cadmium/. Accessed February 16, 2015.

ToxFAQs for cadmium. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry website. Available at: http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaqs/tf.asp?id=47&tid=15. Updated April 2, 2013. Accessed February 16, 2015.

Revision Information