Valahia University

Cadmium regarded as the most serious contaminant of the modern age

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Courtesy of Valahia University

Abstract

Cadmium is today regarded as the most serious contaminant of the modern age. It is absorbed by many plants and seacreatures and, because of its toxicity, presents a major problem for foodstuffs. Contamination through fertilisers becomes an increasing problem. Unlike lead, cadmium contamination cannot be removed from plants by washing them; it is distributed throughout the organism. It is often difficult to be certain of the cause of a cadmium content found in fruit or vegetables, as the substance in its natural form exists everywhere in the soil and is absorbed by  the roots.

Also, it is found in many domestic products, e.g. tobacco products, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) products, photocells, petrol, oils, tyres, automobile radiators, some textile dyes and colours, electronic components, heating elements in electric kettles and hot water systems, batteries, and ceramic glazes.

Cadmium levels in humans tend to increase with age, usually peaking at around age 50 and then levelling off. No cadmium is present in newborns. Interestingly, cadmium does not cross the placenta-fetal barrier nor the blood-brain barrier as lead and mercury do, so it is not toxic to fetuses, nor does it cause the mental and brain symptoms of lead and mercury

Bioaccumulation - Cadmium stays in the body a very long time and can build up from many years of exposure to low levels.

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