18 Nov 2022


The Truth About Cadmium in Science

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Cadmium is a malleable metal that has similar properties to Zinc and easily dissolves in acids. It naturally exists in the Earth’s crust in combination with other elements such as oxygen and sulfur. Today, more than three-quarters of this element is widely used in Ni-Cd batteries with others used in plating, pigments, stabilizers, and coating of plastics. Other uses include the electroplating of steel and its neutron absorption ability makes it best for use in the prevention of nuclear fusion (Lenntech, n.d). Consumption of Cadmium which is mostly through food or air has detrimental health effects on humans. When food that has large amounts of Cadmium for instance is consumed, the Cadmium amount in the body increases beyond certain levels. Some of these foods include shellfish, mushrooms, seaweed, and mussels among others. Smoking also exposes an individual to high levels of Cadmium, and intake of this chemical through the respiratory system causes damage to the lungs and may end up being fatal. Cadmium in the body combines with proteins and forms compounds that are eventually transported to the kidneys where they accumulate and tamper with the filtering function of the kidney. This causes improper extraction of essential nutrients as well as damage to the kidney (Lenntech, n.d). Other health effects of Cadmium in the human body include bone fracture, diarrhea, impairment of the central nervous system, destruction of the immune system, infertility, cancer, and psychological disorder among others. With several studies showing diverse effects of Cadmium on human health, the EPA has adopted the unanimous results from animal studies and classified this element as Group B1, which is considered a possible carcinogen in humans. As the number of evidence increase on the toxic nature of Cadmium, EPA in conjunction with other national and international agencies has come up with regulation standards to minimize its exposure. The health standards by EPA limit the reference dose in food to 1X10 -3 mg/kg/day and 5 x 10-4 mg/kg/day in water (ATSDR, 2013). The agency also limits the amount of this element in the air and soil. Cadmium is listed as one of the most dangerous air pollutants, hence a threat to the health of individuals especially in urban areas. Most of the Cadmium that is being used in the U. S today comes as byproducts. The U.S government has, therefore, come up with guidelines and recommendations that help protect the public against its exposure. Through national agencies such as OSHA, recommendations on food, water, and workspace exposure have been set and industries that violate the laws set on the amount are charged. The current concentration of Cadmium in the U.S is at acceptable levels with regular inspection by OSHA making many manufacturing industries at bay. My personal opinion is that this chemical is already tightly regulated since it only happens as a byproduct. Given that it does not occur as a single element, its regulation will be quite impossible as most of its sources are widely used. The current level and its use should only be monitored regularly to ensure that no industry releases it beyond the allowed amounts. Labeling products with Cadmium is not enough because most labels do not give the exact amount of Cadmium in the product. Furthermore, labeling does not help because Cadmium can be easily inhaled and the health effects associated are detrimental. Limitations on the amount and annual report on the concentration levels of this chemical in various areas are the most appropriate methods of reducing its effects. It is worthy of notice that labeling is important but not enough measure to prevent exposure. In conclusion, Cadmium is one of the most toxic elements found on earth and its exposure should be minimized through regular monitoring and guidelines on the maximum levels allowed in various products. National and international agencies have worked together to come up with guidelines on the various standards that minimize human exposure to Cadmium and this has significantly helped in maintaining public health. 


ATSDR (2013). Cadmium Toxicity: What are the U.S. standards for Cadmium exposure? Retrieved from <http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/csem/csem.asp?csem=6&po=7/> 

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Lenntech (n.d). Cadmium – Cd . Retrieved from <http://www.lenntech.com/periodic/elements/cd.htm/> 

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 15). The Truth About Cadmium in Science.


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