Cadmium is an extremely toxic metal commonly found in industrial workplaces, particularly where ore is processed or smelted. Buildup of cadmium levels in water, air, and soil occurs in industrial areas where safeguards are inadequate.
Cigarettes are another source of cadmium exposure. Although there is generally less cadmium in tobacco than in certain foods, the lungs absorb cadmium more efficiently than the digestive system.
What happens when you are exposed to cadmium? Cadmium tends to accumulate until a threshold of resistance is surpassed. Once this occurs, high blood pressure, which promotes hypertension, often develops. Some individuals with high blood pressure have blood cadmium levels three to four times higher than those with normal blood pressure.
In addition, like nickel, cadmium can replace zinc in critical metabolic pathways, impairing immune system function. Increased exposures to cadmium damages the liver and kidneys, softens bone, and even causes a loss of sense of smell.
Cadmium exposure is associated with the following symptoms and conditions:
- Abdominal pain, weight loss, vomiting
- Disrupted iron, copper, and magnesium metabolism
- Immune suppression, immune dysfunction, slow healing
- Sodium retention, low body temperature
- Sore joints, acne, anemia, decreased fertility, lung disease
Common sources of cadmium exposure include:
- Cigarette smoke
- Dental amalgam fillings
- Fish from polluted water
- Incineration by-products of rubber and plastics
- Metal plating
- Particles from auto tires and brakes
- Photographic processes
- Silver polish