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Cadmium is a metal with an atomic weight of 112.41. In the Periodic Table of the Elements, cadmium is located between zinc and mercury. It is used in a large number of industrial applications. In the United States, over 10 million pounds of cadmium are used industrially every year.
The uses for cadmium include:
Cadmium can be very toxic, and is dangerous if it is swallowed or inhaled. While spontaneous recovery from mild cadmium exposure is common, doses as low as 10 milligrams can cause symptoms of poisoning. There is no accepted fatal dose amount.
The symptoms of ingested cadmium poisoning are:
When cadmium dust or powder is inhaled, the first symptoms are a sweet or metallic taste, followed by throat irritation. Other symptoms that may appear in three to five hours include:
When a person has exposure to cadmium in low doses over a long period of time, symptoms may include loss of sense of smell, cough, shortness of breath, weight loss, and tooth staining. Chronic cadmium exposure may cause damage to the liver and kidneys.
The most common cause of cadmium poisoning is a lack of proper precautions in places where cadmium is used. In such industries, air quality should be regularly monitored. Cadmium-plated containers should never be used to store acidic foods such as fruit juices or vinegar.
Fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, release cadmium fumes into the air. Chronic cadmium poisoning is also possible through soil or water contamination. This problem may occur with improper disposal of nickel-cadmium batteries used in items such as cameras. Cadmium poisoning has been associated with Itai-Itai disease in Japan.
Author Info: Samuel Uretsky Pharm.D., The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit, Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine, 2005This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the care and information received from your healthcare provider. Please consult a healthcare professional with any health concerns you may have.
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