Cadmium is a heavy metal that is found in the earth’s crust. It is always found combined with other substances such as oxygen (cadmium oxide), sulphur (cadmium sulphate, or suphide) and chlorine (cadmium chloride). Cadmium is extracted as a by-product during the production of other metals such as zinc, lead and copper.
Cadmium is used in many consumer products including batteries, jewellery, and metal coatings. It is also found in foods including some shellfish, leafy vegetables, nuts and kidney meats.
Cigarette smoke contains cadmium – smokers are exposed to a significantly higher level of cadmium. Approximately 40 – 60% of cadmium inhaled from cigarette smoke is able to pass through the lungs into the body.
People who work in high-risk occupations may face an increased risk of being exposed to cadmium. This includes individuals who work in soldering, welding and battery, plastics and textiles manufacturing.
Drinking water materials used in both distribution and household plumbing can result in cadmium contamination. Cadmium can leach into water through galvanised water pipes. Galvanised pipes are steel pipes that have been dipped in a protective coating to protect against corrosion and rust.
Levels of cadmium in water may be higher in areas supplied with soft water of low pH because this can be more corrosive in plumbing systems containing cadmium.
Cadmium can also be present in drinking water due to its use in multiple industrial processes which lead to cadmium waste contaminating water supplies and cadmium dust in the air settling into water sources.
The health effects associated with cadmium exposure depend on how exposure has occurred, how much cadmium has entered the body, how long someone has been exposed for and how their body reacts. Cadmium exposure can occur through ingestion (swallowing food that contains cadmium) and inhalation (breathing).
Short term exposure to high cadmium levels can cause coughing, chest pain, vomiting and diarrhea. Whereas long term exposure can cause lung damage, kidney disease and convulsions. Exposure to lower levels of cadmium for a long time can cause fragile bones that break easily.
The WHO set a consent level for cadmium in water at 0.003 mg/L. The US EPA, DWI and FDA all state a maximum consent level limit of 0.005 mg/L.
Kemio Heavy Metals provides expert on-site testing for lead and cadmium – test cadmium in water from 0.2 – 10 μg/L. Designed for use across all users, Kemio does the hard work for you, verifying the presence of cadmium in only 3 minutes. This enable immediate action to be taken to close of contaminated water supplies without the delays of laboratory test results.
A truly simple test method with visual on-screen instructions, Kemio can be used by anyone with no training required. Suitable for use in both the field and the laboratory Kemio is lightweight and durable. To view, Kemio Heavy Metals click here.
10th May 2021
Read our case study on ALZ Agro who use Kemio™ to monitor disinfection in fresh produce wash water.
27th April 2021
Read our guide about the validation of fresh produce wash water sanitisers.