Exposure to Cadmium: A major public health concern

Kolkata, Jan 3: Cadmium exerts toxic effects on the kidney, the skeletal system and the respiratory system and is classified as a human carcinogen.

It is generally present in the environment at low levels; however, human activity has greatly increased those levels.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Cadmium can travel long distances from the source of emission by atmospheric transport. It is readily accumulated in many organisms, notably molluscs and crustaceans. Lower concentrations are found in vegetables, cereals and starchy roots.

Human exposure occurs mainly from consumption of contaminated food, active and passive inhalation of tobacco smoke and inhalation by workers in the non-ferrous metal industry.National, regional and global actions are needed to decrease global environmental cadmium releases and reduce occupational and environmental exposure.

Cadmium can be released to the environment in a number of ways, including: natural activities, such as volcanic activity (both on land and in the deep sea), weathering and erosion, and river transport; human activities, such as tobacco smoking, mining, smelting and refining of non-ferrous metals, fossil fuel combustion, incineration of municipal waste (especially cadmium-containing batteries and plastics), manufacture of phosphate fertilizers, and recycling of cadmium-plated steel scrap and electric and electronic waste; remobilization of historic sources, such as the contamination of watercourses by drainage water from metal mines.