Cadmium

            Cadmium is a chemical element which is relatively abundant in the environment, though rarely in pure form. Cadmium is generally viewed as toxic and carcinogenic, and has thus been described as toxic towards organisms and the environment. Cadmium is usually found in batteries, as electro-plating on aircraft due to its high levels of corrosion resistance, cathode ray tubes, in some semi conductors, and is also present in cigarettes (U.S. EPA, 2009).
    
            For non-smokers, “food is generally the largest source of cadmium exposure. Cadmium levels in some foods can be increased by the application of phosphate fertilizers”  (U.S. EPA, 2009). For electronic waste processing, cadmium exposure can be significant, as it is released in large amounts “into the air from zinc, lead, or copper smelters” (U.S. EPA, 2009). Electronic waste processors often burn these metals while attempting to acquire the valuable parts from electronic waste.
            

           Unfortunately, cadmium's effects in the environment have not been studied extensively. As such, the effects of heavy loading of cadmium in the environment is unpredictable. While there is no doubt that cadmium is extremely poisonous, which likely limits its ability to bioaccumulate, ecosystem wide impacts have not been well studied.

           Currently, there are no effective methods of treating cadmium exposure at toxic levels. As such, prevention of its entrance into ecosystems needs to take precedence. The effects of cadmium on organisms and humans are very similar. Cadmium "impairs liver, kidneys, spleen and intestines, and induces immune suppression and cancer" (Xiehong and XuRong, 2003)




Other Resources for learning about the effects of Cadmium in greater detail:

A comprehensive resource on the levels of cadmium in the environment, as well as its effects on humans:
http://www.cadmium.org/

http://www.lenntech.com/periodic/elements/cd.htm

The USGS Website is a great resource for information on cadmium. It also contains lots of outside documentation:
http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/commodity/cadmium/

Another comprehensive website concerning cadmium's effects on humans:
http://www.canoshweb.org/odp/html/cadmium.htm

References:
Xie, L.-h. Xu, Z.-r. 2003. The toxicity of heavy metal Cadmium to animals and humans. ACTA AGRICULTURAE ZHEJIANGENSIS.  VOL 15; PART 6, pages 376-381

U.S. EPA. 2009. Cadmium Compounds. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC. http://www.epa.gov/ttn/atw/hlthef/cadmium.html
(U.S. EPA, 2009)













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