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Cadmium, 48Cd
Cadmium-crystal bar.jpg
Pronunciation /ˈkædmiəm/ (KAD-mee-əm)
Appearancesilvery bluish-gray metallic
Standard atomic weight Ar°(Cd)
Cadmium in the periodic table
Hydrogen Helium
Lithium Beryllium Boron Carbon Nitrogen Oxygen Fluorine Neon
Sodium Magnesium Aluminium Silicon Phosphorus Sulfur Chlorine Argon
Potassium Calcium Scandium Titanium Vanadium Chromium Manganese Iron Cobalt Nickel Copper Zinc Gallium Germanium Arsenic Selenium Bromine Krypton
Rubidium Strontium Yttrium Zirconium Niobium Molybdenum Technetium Ruthenium Rhodium Palladium Silver Cadmium Indium Tin Antimony Tellurium Iodine Xenon
Caesium Barium Lanthanum Cerium Praseodymium Neodymium Promethium Samarium Europium Gadolinium Terbium Dysprosium Holmium Erbium Thulium Ytterbium Lutetium Hafnium Tantalum Tungsten Rhenium Osmium Iridium Platinum Gold Mercury (element) Thallium Lead Bismuth Polonium Astatine Radon
Francium Radium Actinium Thorium Protactinium Uranium Neptunium Plutonium Americium Curium Berkelium Californium Einsteinium Fermium Mendelevium Nobelium Lawrencium Rutherfordium Dubnium Seaborgium Bohrium Hassium Meitnerium Darmstadtium Roentgenium Copernicium Nihonium Flerovium Moscovium Livermorium Tennessine Oganesson


Atomic number (Z)48
Group group 12
Period period 5
Block   d-block
Electron configuration [ Kr ] 4d10 5s2
Electrons per shell2, 8, 18, 18, 2
Physical properties
Phase at  STP solid
Melting point 594.22  K (321.07 °C,609.93 °F)
Boiling point 1040 K(767 °C,1413 °F)
Density (near r.t.)8.65 g/cm3
when liquid (at m.p.)7.996 g/cm3
Heat of fusion 6.21  kJ/mol
Heat of vaporization 99.87 kJ/mol
Molar heat capacity 26.020 J/(mol·K)
Vapor pressure
P (Pa)1101001 k10 k100 k
at T (K)5305836547458671040
Atomic properties
Oxidation states −2, +1, +2 (a mildly basic oxide)
Electronegativity Pauling scale: 1.69
Ionization energies
  • 1st: 867.8 kJ/mol
  • 2nd: 1631.4 kJ/mol
  • 3rd: 3616 kJ/mol
Atomic radius empirical:151  pm
Covalent radius 144±9 pm
Van der Waals radius 158 pm
Cadmium spectrum visible.png
Spectral lines of cadmium
Other properties
Natural occurrence primordial
Crystal structure hexagonal close-packed (hcp)
Hexagonal close packed.svg
Thermal expansion 30.8 µm/(m⋅K)(at 25 °C)
Thermal conductivity 96.6 W/(m⋅K)
Electrical resistivity 72.7 nΩ⋅m(at 22 °C)
Magnetic ordering diamagnetic [3]
Molar magnetic susceptibility −19.8×10−6 cm3/mol [4]
Young's modulus 50 GPa
Shear modulus 19 GPa
Bulk modulus 42 GPa
Speed of sound thin rod2310 m/s(at 20 °C)
Poisson ratio 0.30
Mohs hardness 2.0
Brinell hardness 203–220 MPa
CAS Number 7440-43-9
Discovery and first isolation Karl Samuel Leberecht Hermann and Friedrich Stromeyer (1817)
Named byFriedrich Stromeyer(1817)
Isotopes of cadmium
Main isotopes [5] Decay
abun­dance half-life (t1/2) mode pro­duct
106Cd1.25% stable
107Cd synth 6.5 h ε 107Ag
109Cdsynth462.6 dε 109Ag
113Cd12.2%7.7×1015 y β 113In
113mCdsynth14.1 yβ113In
IT 113Cd
115Cdsynth53.46 hβ 115In
116Cd7.51%3.1×1019 yββ 116Sn
Symbol category class.svg  Category: Cadmium
| references

Cadmium is a chemical element; it has symbol Cd and atomic number 48. This soft, silvery-white metal is chemically similar to the two other stable metals in group 12, zinc and mercury. Like zinc, it demonstrates oxidation state +2 in most of its compounds, and like mercury, it has a lower melting point than the transition metals in groups 3 through 11. Cadmium and its congeners in group 12 are often not considered transition metals, in that they do not have partly filled d or f electron shells in the elemental or common oxidation states. The average concentration of cadmium in Earth's crust is between 0.1 and 0.5 parts per million (ppm). It was discovered in 1817 simultaneously by Stromeyer and Hermann, both in Germany, as an impurity in zinc carbonate.


Cadmium occurs as a minor component in most zinc ores and is a byproduct of zinc production. Cadmium was used for a long time[ when? ] as a corrosion-resistant plating on steel, and cadmium compounds are used as red, orange, and yellow pigments, to color glass, and to stabilize plastic. Cadmium use is generally decreasing because it is toxic (it is specifically listed in the European Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive [6] ) and nickel–cadmium batteries have been replaced with nickel–metal hydride and lithium-ion batteries. One of its few new uses is in cadmium telluride solar panels.

Although cadmium has no known biological function in higher organisms, a cadmium-dependent carbonic anhydrase has been found in marine diatoms.


Physical properties

Cadmium is a soft, malleable, ductile, silvery-white divalent metal. It is similar in many respects to zinc but forms complex compounds. [7] Unlike most other metals, cadmium is resistant to corrosion and is used as a protective plate on other metals. As a bulk metal, cadmium is insoluble in water [8] and is not flammable; however, in its powdered form it may burn and release toxic fumes. [9]

Chemical properties

Although cadmium usually has an oxidation state of +2, it also exists in the +1 state. Cadmium and its congeners are not always considered transition metals, in that they do not have partly filled d or f electron shells in the elemental or common oxidation states. [10] Cadmium burns in air to form brown amorphous cadmium oxide (CdO); the crystalline form of this compound is a dark red which changes color when heated, similar to zinc oxide. Hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, and nitric acid dissolve cadmium by forming cadmium chloride (CdCl2), cadmium sulfate (CdSO4), or cadmium nitrate (Cd(NO3)2). The oxidation state +1 can be produced by dissolving cadmium in a mixture of cadmium chloride and aluminium chloride, forming the Cd22+ cation, which is similar to the Hg22+ cation in mercury(I) chloride. [7]

Cd + CdCl2 + 2 AlCl3 → Cd2(AlCl4)2

The structures of many cadmium complexes with nucleobases, amino acids, and vitamins have been determined. [11]


The cadmium-113 total cross section clearly showing the cadmium cut-off Cadmium cutoff.png
The cadmium-113 total cross section clearly showing the cadmium cut-off

Naturally occurring cadmium is composed of eight isotopes. Two of them are radioactive, and three are expected to decay but have not measurably done so under laboratory conditions. The two natural radioactive isotopes are 113Cd (beta decay, half-life is 7.7×1015 y) and 116Cd (two-neutrino double beta decay, half-life is 2.9×1019 y). The other three are 106Cd, 108Cd (both double electron capture), and 114Cd (double beta decay); only lower limits on these half-lives have been determined. At least three isotopes 110Cd, 111Cd, and 112Cd – are stable. Among the isotopes that do not occur naturally, the most long-lived are 109Cd with a half-life of 462.6 days, and 115Cd with a half-life of 53.46 hours. All of the remaining radioactive isotopes have half-lives of less than 2.5 hours, and the majority have half-lives of less than 5 minutes. Cadmium has 8 known meta states, with the most stable being 113mCd (t1⁄2 = 14.1 years), 115mCd (t1⁄2 = 44.6 days), and 117mCd (t1⁄2 = 3.36 hours). [12]

The known isotopes of cadmium range in atomic mass from 94.950  u (95Cd) to 131.946 u (132Cd). For isotopes lighter than 112 u, the primary decay mode is electron capture and the dominant decay product is element 47 (silver). Heavier isotopes decay mostly through beta emission producing element 49 (indium). [12]

One isotope of cadmium, 113Cd, absorbs neutrons with high selectivity: With very high probability, neutrons with energy below the cadmium cut-off will be absorbed; those higher than the cut-off will be transmitted. The cadmium cut-off is about 0.5 eV, and neutrons below that level are deemed slow neutrons, distinct from intermediate and fast neutrons. [13]

Cadmium is created via the s-process in low- to medium-mass stars with masses of 0.6 to 10  solar masses, over thousands of years. In that process, a silver atom captures a neutron and then undergoes beta decay. [14]


Friedrich Stromeyer Friedrich Stromeyer.jpg
Friedrich Stromeyer

Cadmium (Latin cadmia, Greek καδμεία meaning "calamine", a cadmium-bearing mixture of minerals that was named after the Greek mythological character Κάδμος, Cadmus, the founder of Thebes) was discovered in contaminated zinc compounds sold in pharmacies in Germany [15] in 1817 by Friedrich Stromeyer. [16] Karl Samuel Leberecht Hermann simultaneously investigated the discoloration in zinc oxide and found an impurity, first suspected to be arsenic, because of the yellow precipitate with hydrogen sulfide. Additionally Stromeyer discovered that one supplier sold zinc carbonate instead of zinc oxide. [6] Stromeyer found the new element as an impurity in zinc carbonate (calamine), and, for 100 years, Germany remained the only important producer of the metal. The metal was named after the Latin word for calamine, because it was found in this zinc ore. Stromeyer noted that some impure samples of calamine changed color when heated but pure calamine did not. He was persistent in studying these results and eventually isolated cadmium metal by roasting and reducing the sulfide. The potential for cadmium yellow as pigment was recognized in the 1840s, but the lack of cadmium limited this application. [17] [18] [19]

Even though cadmium and its compounds are toxic in certain forms and concentrations, the British Pharmaceutical Codex from 1907 states that cadmium iodide was used as a medication to treat "enlarged joints, scrofulous glands, and chilblains". [20]

In 1907, the International Astronomical Union defined the international ångström in terms of a red cadmium spectral line (1 wavelength = 6438.46963 Å). [21] [22] This was adopted by the 7th General Conference on Weights and Measures in 1927. In 1960, the definitions of both the metre and ångström were changed to use krypton. [23]

After the industrial scale production of cadmium started in the 1930s and 1940s, the major application of cadmium was the coating of iron and steel to prevent corrosion; in 1944, 62% and in 1956, 59% of the cadmium in the United States was used for plating. [6] [24] In 1956, 24% of the cadmium in the United States was used for a second application in red, orange and yellow pigments from sulfides and selenides of cadmium. [24]

The stabilizing effect of cadmium chemicals like the carboxylates cadmium laurate and cadmium stearate on PVC led to an increased use of those compounds in the 1970s and 1980s. The demand for cadmium in pigments, coatings, stabilizers, and alloys declined as a result of environmental and health regulations in the 1980s and 1990s; in 2006, only 7% of total cadmium consumption was used for plating, and only 10% was used for pigments. [6] At the same time, these decreases in consumption were compensated by a growing demand for cadmium for nickel–cadmium batteries, which accounted for 81% of the cadmium consumption in the United States in 2006. [25]


Cadmium metal CadmiumMetalUSGOV.jpg
Cadmium metal

Cadmium makes up about 0.1  ppm of Earth's crust. It is much rarer than zinc, which makes up about 65 ppm. [26] No significant deposits of cadmium-containing ores are known. The only cadmium mineral of importance, greenockite (CdS), is nearly always associated with sphalerite (ZnS). This association is caused by geochemical similarity between zinc and cadmium, with no geological process likely to separate them. Thus, cadmium is produced mainly as a byproduct of mining, smelting, and refining sulfidic ores of zinc, and, to a lesser degree, lead and copper. Small amounts of cadmium, about 10% of consumption, are produced from secondary sources, mainly from dust generated by recycling iron and steel scrap. Production in the United States began in 1907, [19] but wide use began after World War I. [27] [28]

Metallic cadmium can be found in the Vilyuy River basin in Siberia. [29]

Rocks mined for phosphate fertilizers contain varying amounts of cadmium, resulting in a cadmium concentration of as much as 300 mg/kg in the fertilizers and a high cadmium content in agricultural soils. [30] [31] Coal can contain significant amounts of cadmium, which ends up mostly in coal fly ash. [32]

Cadmium in soil can be absorbed by crops such as rice and cocoa. In 2002, the Chinese ministry of agriculture measured that 28% of rice it sampled had excess lead and 10% had excess cadmium above limits defined by law. Consumer Reports tested 28 brands of dark chocolate sold in the United States in 2022, and found cadmium in all of them, with 13 exceeding the California Maximum Allowable Dose level. [33]

Some plants such as willow trees and poplars have been found to clean both lead and cadmium from soil. [34]

Typical background concentrations of cadmium do not exceed 5 ng/m3 in the atmosphere; 2 mg/kg in soil; 1 μg/L in freshwater and 50 ng/L in seawater. [35] Concentrations of cadmium above 10 μg/L may be stable in water having low total solute concentrations and p H and can be difficult to remove by conventional water treatment processes. [36]


Cadmium is a common impurity in zinc ores, and it is most often isolated during the production of zinc. Some zinc ores concentrates from zinc sulfate ores contain up to 1.4% of cadmium. [37] In the 1970s, the output of cadmium was 6.5 pounds (2.9 kg) per ton of zinc. [37] Zinc sulfide ores are roasted in the presence of oxygen, converting the zinc sulfide to the oxide. Zinc metal is produced either by smelting the oxide with carbon or by electrolysis in sulfuric acid. Cadmium is isolated from the zinc metal by vacuum distillation if the zinc is smelted, or cadmium sulfate is precipitated from the electrolysis solution. [28] [38]

The British Geological Survey reports that in 2001, China was the top producer of cadmium with almost one-sixth of the world's production, closely followed by South Korea and Japan. [39]


Cadmium is a common component of electric batteries, pigments, [40] coatings, [41] and electroplating. [42]


Ni-Cd batteries NiCd various.jpg
Ni–Cd batteries

In 2009, 86% of cadmium was used in batteries, predominantly in rechargeable nickel–cadmium batteries. Nickel–cadmium cells have a nominal cell potential of 1.2  V. The cell consists of a positive nickel hydroxide electrode and a negative cadmium electrode plate separated by an alkaline electrolyte (potassium hydroxide). [43] The European Union put a limit on cadmium in electronics in 2004 of 0.01%, [44] with some exceptions, and in 2006 reduced the limit on cadmium content to 0.002%. [45] Another type of battery based on cadmium is the silver–cadmium battery.


A photograph and representative spectrum of photoluminescence from colloidal CdSe quantum dots CdSeqdots.jpg
A photograph and representative spectrum of photoluminescence from colloidal CdSe quantum dots

Cadmium electroplating, consuming 6% of the global production, is used in the aircraft industry to reduce corrosion of steel components. [42] This coating is passivated by chromate salts. [41] A limitation of cadmium plating is hydrogen embrittlement of high-strength steels from the electroplating process. Therefore, steel parts heat-treated to tensile strength above 1300 MPa (200 ksi) should be coated by an alternative method (such as special low-embrittlement cadmium electroplating processes or physical vapor deposition).

Titanium embrittlement from cadmium-plated tool residues resulted in banishment of those tools (and the implementation of routine tool testing to detect cadmium contamination) in the A-12/SR-71, U-2, and subsequent aircraft programs that use titanium. [46]

Nuclear fission

Cadmium is used in the control rods of nuclear reactors, acting as a very effective neutron poison to control neutron flux in nuclear fission. [42] When cadmium rods are inserted in the core of a nuclear reactor, cadmium absorbs neutrons, preventing them from creating additional fission events, thus controlling the amount of reactivity. The pressurized water reactor designed by Westinghouse Electric Company uses an alloy consisting of 80% silver, 15% indium, and 5% cadmium. [42]


QLED TVs have been starting to include cadmium in construction. Some companies have been looking to reduce the environmental impact of human exposure and pollution of the material in televisions during production. [47]

Anticancer drugs

Complexes based on heavy metals have great potential for the treatment of a wide variety of cancers but their use is often limited due to toxic side effects. However, scientists are advancing in the field and new promising cadmium complex compounds with reduced toxicity have been discovered. [48]


Train painted with cadmium orange Tyne and Wear Metro train 4001 at Pelaw 01.jpg
Train painted with cadmium orange

Cadmium oxide was used in black and white television phosphors and in the blue and green phosphors of color television cathode ray tubes. [49] Cadmium sulfide (CdS) is used as a photoconductive surface coating for photocopier drums. [50]

Cadmium sulfide Cadmium sulfide.jpg
Cadmium sulfide

Various cadmium salts are used in paint pigments, with CdS as a yellow pigment being the most common. Cadmium selenide is a red pigment, commonly called cadmium red. To painters who work with the pigment, cadmium provides the most brilliant and durable yellows, oranges, and reds – so much so that during production, these colors are significantly toned down before they are ground with oils and binders or blended into watercolors, gouaches, acrylics, and other paint and pigment formulations. Because these pigments are potentially toxic, users should use a barrier cream on the hands to prevent absorption through the skin [40] even though the amount of cadmium absorbed into the body through the skin is reported to be less than 1%. [9]

In PVC, cadmium was used as heat, light, and weathering stabilizers. [42] [51] Currently, cadmium stabilizers have been completely replaced with barium-zinc, calcium-zinc and organo-tin stabilizers. Cadmium is used in many kinds of solder and bearing alloys, because it has a low coefficient of friction and fatigue resistance. [42] It is also found in some of the lowest-melting alloys, such as Wood's metal. [52]


Cadmium is an element in some semiconductor materials. Cadmium sulfide, cadmium selenide, and cadmium telluride are used in some photodetectors and solar cells. HgCdTe detectors are sensitive to mid-infrared light [42] and used in some motion detectors.

Laboratory uses

Violet light from a helium cadmium metal vapor laser. The highly monochromatic color arises from the 441.563 nm transition line of cadmium. HeCd laser.jpg
Violet light from a helium cadmium metal vapor laser. The highly monochromatic color arises from the 441.563 nm transition line of cadmium.

Helium–cadmium lasers are a common source of blue or ultraviolet laser light. Lasers at wavelengths of 325, 354 and 442 nm are made using this gain medium; some models can switch between these wavelengths. They are notably used in fluorescence microscopy as well as various laboratory uses requiring laser light at these wavelengths. [53] [54]

Cadmium selenide quantum dots emit bright luminescence under UV excitation (He–Cd laser, for example). The color of this luminescence can be green, yellow or red depending on the particle size. Colloidal solutions of those particles are used for imaging of biological tissues and solutions with a fluorescence microscope. [55]

In molecular biology, cadmium is used to block voltage-dependent calcium channels from fluxing calcium ions, as well as in hypoxia research to stimulate proteasome-dependent degradation of Hif-1α. [56]

Cadmium-selective sensors based on the fluorophore BODIPY have been developed for imaging and sensing of cadmium in cells. [57] One powerful method for monitoring cadmium in aqueous environments involves electrochemistry. By employing a self-assembled monolayer one can obtain a cadmium selective electrode with a ppt-level sensitivity. [58]

Biological role and research

Cadmium has no known function in higher organisms and is considered toxic. [59] Cadmium is considered an environmental pollutant that causes health hazard to living organisms. [60] Administration of cadmium to cells causes oxidative stress and increases the levels of antioxidants produced by cells to protect against macro molecular damage. [61]

However a cadmium-dependent carbonic anhydrase has been found in some marine diatoms. [62] The diatoms live in environments with very low zinc concentrations and cadmium performs the function normally carried out by zinc in other anhydrases. This was discovered with X-ray absorption near edge structure (XANES) spectroscopy. [62] [63]

Cadmium is preferentially absorbed in the kidneys of humans. Up to about 30 mg of cadmium is commonly inhaled throughout human childhood and adolescence. [64] Cadmium is under research regarding its toxicity in humans, potentially elevating risks of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis. [65] [66] [67] [68]


The biogeochemistry of cadmium and its release to the environment has been the subject of review, as has the speciation of cadmium in the environment. [69] [70]


GHS labelling: [71]
GHS-pictogram-skull.svg GHS-pictogram-silhouette.svg GHS-pictogram-pollu.svg
H301, H330, H341, H350, H361fd, H372, H410
P201, P202, P260, P264, P273, P304+P340+P310
NFPA 704 (fire diamond)
NFPA 704.svgHealth 4: Very short exposure could cause death or major residual injury. E.g. VX gasFlammability 0: Will not burn. E.g. waterInstability 0: Normally stable, even under fire exposure conditions, and is not reactive with water. E.g. liquid nitrogenSpecial hazards (white): no code

Individuals and organizations have been reviewing cadmium's bioinorganic aspects for its toxicity. [72] The most dangerous form of occupational exposure to cadmium is inhalation of fine dust and fumes, or ingestion of highly soluble cadmium compounds. [6] Inhalation of cadmium fumes can result initially in metal fume fever, but may progress to chemical pneumonitis, pulmonary edema, and death. [73]

Cadmium is also an environmental hazard. Human exposure is primarily from fossil fuel combustion, phosphate fertilizers, natural sources, iron and steel production, cement production and related activities, nonferrous metals production, and municipal solid waste incineration. [6] Other sources of cadmium include bread, root crops, and vegetables. [74]

Jinzu River area, which was contaminated with cadmium Jinzu River.jpg
Jinzū River area, which was contaminated with cadmium

There have been a few instances of general population poisoning as the result of long-term exposure to cadmium in contaminated food and water. Research into an estrogen mimicry that may induce breast cancer is ongoing, as of 2012. [74] In the decades leading up to World War II, mining operations contaminated the Jinzū River in Japan with cadmium and traces of other toxic metals. As a consequence, cadmium accumulated in the rice crops along the riverbanks downstream of the mines. Some members of the local agricultural communities consumed the contaminated rice and developed itai-itai disease and renal abnormalities, including proteinuria and glucosuria. [75] The victims of this poisoning were almost exclusively post-menopausal women with low iron and low body stores of other minerals. Similar general population cadmium exposures in other parts of the world have not resulted in the same health problems because the populations maintained sufficient iron and other mineral levels. Thus, although cadmium is a major factor in the itai-itai disease in Japan, most researchers have concluded that it was one of several factors. [6]

Cadmium is one of six substances banned by the European Union's Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive, which regulates hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment, but allows for certain exemptions and exclusions from the scope of the law. [76]

The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified cadmium and cadmium compounds as carcinogenic to humans. [77] Although occupational exposure to cadmium is linked to lung and prostate cancer, there is still uncertainty about the carcinogenicity of cadmium in low environmental exposure. Recent data from epidemiological studies suggest that intake of cadmium through diet is associated with a higher risk of endometrial, breast, and prostate cancer as well as with osteoporosis in humans. [78] [79] [80] [81] A recent study has demonstrated that endometrial tissue is characterized by higher levels of cadmium in current and former smoking females. [82]

Cadmium exposure is associated with a large number of illnesses including kidney disease, [83] early atherosclerosis, hypertension, and cardiovascular diseases. [84] Although studies show a significant correlation between cadmium exposure and occurrence of disease in human populations, a molecular mechanism has not yet been identified. One hypothesis holds that cadmium is an endocrine disruptor and some experimental studies have shown that it can interact with different hormonal signaling pathways. For example, cadmium can bind to the estrogen receptor alpha, [85] [86] and affect signal transduction along the estrogen and MAPK signaling pathways at low doses. [87] [88] [89]

The tobacco plant absorbs and accumulates heavy metals such as cadmium from the surrounding soil into its leaves. Following tobacco smoke inhalation, these are readily absorbed into the body of users. [90] Tobacco smoking is the most important single source of cadmium exposure in the general population. An estimated 10% of the cadmium content of a cigarette is inhaled through smoking. Absorption of cadmium through the lungs is more effective than through the gut. As much as 50% of the cadmium inhaled in cigarette smoke may be absorbed. [91] On average, cadmium concentrations in the blood of smokers is 4 to 5 times greater than non-smokers and in the kidney, 2–3 times greater than in non-smokers. Despite the high cadmium content in cigarette smoke, there seems to be little exposure to cadmium from passive smoking. [92]

In a non-smoking population, food is the greatest source of exposure. High quantities of cadmium can be found in crustaceans, mollusks, offal, frog legs, cocoa solids, bitter and semi-bitter chocolate, seaweed, fungi and algae products. However, grains, vegetables, and starchy roots and tubers are consumed in much greater quantity in the U.S., and are the source of the greatest dietary exposure there. [93] Most plants bio-accumulate metal toxins such as cadmium and when composted to form organic fertilizers, yield a product that often can contain high amounts (e.g., over 0.5 mg) of metal toxins for every kilogram of fertilizer. Fertilizers made from animal dung (e.g., cow dung) or urban waste can contain similar amounts of cadmium. The cadmium added to the soil from fertilizers (rock phosphates or organic fertilizers) become bio-available and toxic only if the soil pH is low (i.e., acidic soils). In the European Union, an analysis of almost 22,000 topsoil samples with LUCAS survey concluded that 5.5% of samples have concentrations higher than 1 mg kg-1. [94]

Zinc, copper, calcium, and iron ions, and selenium with vitamin C are used to treat cadmium intoxication, though it is not easily reversed. [83]


Because of the adverse effects of cadmium on the environment and human health, the supply and use of cadmium is restricted in Europe under the REACH Regulation. [95]

The EFSA Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain specifies that 2.5 μg/kg body weight is a tolerable weekly intake for humans. [93] The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives has declared 7 μg/kg body weight to be the provisional tolerable weekly intake level. [96] The state of California requires a food label to carry a warning about potential exposure to cadmium on products such as cocoa powder. [97] The European Commission has put in place the EU regulation (2019/1009) on fertilizing products (EU, 2019), adopted in June 2019 and fully applicable as of July 2022, sets a Cd limit value in phosphate fertilizers to 60 mg kg-1 of P2O5.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for cadmium at a time-weighted average (TWA) of 0.005 ppm. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has not set a recommended exposure limit (REL) and has designated cadmium as a known human carcinogen. The IDLH (immediately dangerous to life and health) level for cadmium is 9 mg/m3. [98]

Lethal dose [99] OrganismRouteTime
LD50: 225 mg/kgratoraln/a
LD50: 890 mg/kgmouseoraln/a
LC50: 25 mg/m3ratairborne30 min

In addition to mercury, the presence of cadmium in some batteries has led to the requirement of proper disposal (or recycling) of batteries.

Product recalls

In May 2006, a sale of the seats from Arsenal F.C.'s old stadium, Highbury in London, England was cancelled when the seats were discovered to contain trace amounts of cadmium. [100] Reports of high levels of cadmium use in children's jewelry in 2010 led to a US Consumer Product Safety Commission investigation. [101] The U.S. CPSC issued specific recall notices for cadmium content in jewelry sold by Claire's [102] and Wal-Mart [103] stores.

In June 2010, McDonald's voluntarily recalled more than 12 million promotional Shrek Forever After 3D Collectible Drinking Glasses because of the cadmium levels in paint pigments on the glassware. [104] The glasses were manufactured by Arc International, of Millville, New Jersey, USA. [105]

See also

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Manganese is a chemical element; it has symbol Mn and atomic number 25. It is a hard, brittle, silvery metal, often found in minerals in combination with iron. Manganese was first isolated in the 1770s. Manganese is a transition metal with a multifaceted array of industrial alloy uses, particularly in stainless steels. It improves strength, workability, and resistance to wear. Manganese oxide is used as an oxidising agent; as a rubber additive; and in glass making, fertilisers, and ceramics. Manganese sulfate can be used as a fungicide.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Zinc</span> Chemical element, symbol Zn and atomic number 30

Zinc is a chemical element; it has symbol Zn and atomic number 30. Zinc is a slightly brittle metal at room temperature and has a shiny-greyish appearance when oxidation is removed. It is the first element in group 12 (IIB) of the periodic table. In some respects, zinc is chemically similar to magnesium: both elements exhibit only one normal oxidation state (+2), and the Zn2+ and Mg2+ ions are of similar size. Zinc is the 24th most abundant element in Earth's crust and has five stable isotopes. The most common zinc ore is sphalerite (zinc blende), a zinc sulfide mineral. The largest workable lodes are in Australia, Asia, and the United States. Zinc is refined by froth flotation of the ore, roasting, and final extraction using electricity (electrowinning).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Phosphor</span> Luminescent substance

A phosphor is a substance that exhibits the phenomenon of luminescence; it emits light when exposed to some type of radiant energy. The term is used both for fluorescent or phosphorescent substances which glow on exposure to ultraviolet or visible light, and cathodoluminescent substances which glow when struck by an electron beam in a cathode-ray tube.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Metalloprotein</span> Protein that contains a metal ion cofactor

Metalloprotein is a generic term for a protein that contains a metal ion cofactor. A large proportion of all proteins are part of this category. For instance, at least 1000 human proteins contain zinc-binding protein domains although there may be up to 3000 human zinc metalloproteins.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Metallothionein</span> Family of proteins

Metallothionein (MT) is a family of cysteine-rich, low molecular weight proteins. They are localized to the membrane of the Golgi apparatus. MTs have the capacity to bind both physiological and xenobiotic heavy metals through the thiol group of its cysteine residues, which represent nearly 30% of its constituent amino acid residues.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Trace metal</span> Metals subset of trace elements

Trace metals are the metals subset of trace elements; that is, metals normally present in small but measurable amounts in animal and plant cells and tissues and that are a necessary part of nutrition and physiology. Some biometals are trace metals. Ingestion of, or exposure to, excessive quantities can be toxic. However, insufficient plasma or tissue levels of certain trace metals can cause pathology, as is the case with iron.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Group 12 element</span> Group of chemical elements

Group 12, by modern IUPAC numbering, is a group of chemical elements in the periodic table. It includes zinc (Zn), cadmium (Cd), mercury (Hg), and copernicium (Cn). Formerly this group was named IIB by CAS and old IUPAC system.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cadmium pigments</span> Class of pigments that have cadmium as one of the chemical components

Cadmium pigments are a class of pigments that contain cadmium. Most of the cadmium produced worldwide has been for use in rechargeable nickel–cadmium batteries, which have been replaced by other rechargeable nickel-chemistry cell varieties such as NiMH cells, but about half of the remaining consumption of cadmium, which is approximately 2,000 tonnes annually, is used to produce colored cadmium pigments. The principal pigments are a family of yellow, orange and red cadmium sulfides and sulfoselenides, as well as compounds with other metals.

Genotoxicity is the property of chemical agents that damage the genetic information within a cell causing mutations, which may lead to cancer. While genotoxicity is often confused with mutagenicity, all mutagens are genotoxic, but some genotoxic substances are not mutagenic. The alteration can have direct or indirect effects on the DNA: the induction of mutations, mistimed event activation, and direct DNA damage leading to mutations. The permanent, heritable changes can affect either somatic cells of the organism or germ cells to be passed on to future generations. Cells prevent expression of the genotoxic mutation by either DNA repair or apoptosis; however, the damage may not always be fixed leading to mutagenesis.

Bioinorganic chemistry is a field that examines the role of metals in biology. Bioinorganic chemistry includes the study of both natural phenomena such as the behavior of metalloproteins as well as artificially introduced metals, including those that are non-essential, in medicine and toxicology. Many biological processes such as respiration depend upon molecules that fall within the realm of inorganic chemistry. The discipline also includes the study of inorganic models or mimics that imitate the behaviour of metalloproteins.

Cadmium is a naturally occurring toxic metal with common exposure in industrial workplaces, plant soils, and from smoking. Due to its low permissible exposure in humans, overexposure may occur even in situations where trace quantities of cadmium are found. Cadmium is used extensively in electroplating, although the nature of the operation does not generally lead to overexposure. Cadmium is also found in some industrial paints and may represent a hazard when sprayed. Operations involving removal of cadmium paints by scraping or blasting may pose a significant hazard. The primary use of cadmium is in the manufacturing of NiCd rechargeable batteries. The primary source for cadmium is as a byproduct of refining zinc metal. Exposures to cadmium are addressed in specific standards for the general industry, shipyard employment, the construction industry, and the agricultural industry.

Metal fume fever, also known as brass founders' ague, brass shakes, zinc shakes, galvie flu, galvo poisoning, metal dust fever, welding shivers, or Monday morning fever, is an illness primarily caused by exposure to chemicals such as zinc oxide (ZnO), aluminium oxide (Al2O3), or magnesium oxide (MgO) which are produced as byproducts in the fumes that result when certain metals are heated. Other common sources are fuming silver, gold, platinum, and chromium.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Environmental toxicology</span>

Environmental toxicology is a multidisciplinary field of science concerned with the study of the harmful effects of various chemical, biological and physical agents on living organisms. Ecotoxicology is a subdiscipline of environmental toxicology concerned with studying the harmful effects of toxicants at the population and ecosystem levels.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bismuth</span> Chemical element, symbol Bi and atomic number 83

Bismuth is a chemical element; it has symbol Bi and atomic number 83. It is a post-transition metal and one of the pnictogens, with chemical properties resembling its lighter group 15 siblings arsenic and antimony. Elemental bismuth occurs naturally, and its sulfide and oxide forms are important commercial ores. The free element is 86% as dense as lead. It is a brittle metal with a silvery-white color when freshly produced. Surface oxidation generally gives samples of the metal a somewhat rosy cast. Further oxidation under heat can give bismuth a vividly iridescent appearance due to thin-film interference. Bismuth is both the most diamagnetic element and one of the least thermally conductive metals known.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Reproductive toxicity</span> A hazard associated with chemical substances

Reproductive toxicity refers to the potential risk from a given chemical, physical or biologic agent to adversely affect both male and female fertility as well as offspring development. Reproductive toxicants may adversely affect sexual function, ovarian failure, fertility as well as causing developmental toxicity in the offspring. Lowered effective fertility related to reproductive toxicity relates to both male and female effects alike and is reflected in decreased sperm counts, semen quality and ovarian failure. Infertility is medically defined as a failure of a couple to conceive over the course of one year of unprotected intercourse. As many as 20% of couples experience infertility. Among men, oligospermia is defined as a paucity of viable spermatozoa in the semen, whereas azoospermia refers to the complete absence of viable spermatozoa in the semen.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Heavy metals</span> Loosely defined subset of elements that exhibit metallic properties

Heavy metals are generally defined as metals with relatively high densities, atomic weights, or atomic numbers. The criteria used, and whether metalloids are included, vary depending on the author and context. In metallurgy, for example, a heavy metal may be defined on the basis of density, whereas in physics the distinguishing criterion might be atomic number, while a chemist would likely be more concerned with chemical behaviour. More specific definitions have been published, none of which have been widely accepted. The definitions surveyed in this article encompass up to 96 out of the 118 known chemical elements; only mercury, lead and bismuth meet all of them. Despite this lack of agreement, the term is widely used in science. A density of more than 5 g/cm3 is sometimes quoted as a commonly used criterion and is used in the body of this article.


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Further reading