Cadmium is a chemical element which is commonly used for electroplating. It is very toxic and has a very low permissible exposure limit. Here’s more…
Cadmium was discovered by a German chemist, Friedrich Stromeyer in 1817. It was actually discovered as an impurity in zinc carbonate. Its symbol is ‘Cd’, it is bluish-white in color and has an atomic number of 48. It belongs to group 12 of the periodic table, and shares similar chemical properties with zinc and mercury. Cadmium occurs in minute quantities in most zinc ores. It is a bivalent metal, which possesses properties of ductility and malleability.
Poisoning is caused by excessive exposure to cadmium. There are high levels of toxic compounds inside cadmium that can pose a serious threat to living organisms and the ecosystem.
Symptoms of Poisoning
Cadmium is toxic and can prove fatal if swallowed or inhaled. Recovery generally doesn’t take much time if exposure is in minimal quantities.
- Cadmium is found in most food and water supplies. High levels of cadmium are detected in shellfish, kidney, and liver meats of animals. Consumption of cadmium can cause shock, loss of consciousness, salivation, abdominal pain, choking, vertigo, muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting, and convulsions.
- Inhalation of cadmium fumes can severely damage the lungs and cause muscle weakness, shooting pain in the chest, dry throat, coughing, excessive sweating, shivering, pneumonitis, frequent headaches, and wheezing.
- Exposure to cadmium for a few minutes can lead to difficulty in breathing, loss of sense of smell, drastic weight loss, severe lung and liver damage, kidney stones, bone fractures, osteomalacia, pulmonary edema, and various kidney diseases.
Causes of Poisoning
Now let us have a look at few instances that can put us at risk of being poisoned by cadmium.
- The most common cause of poisoning is lacking safety measures in places where cadmium is either used or produced.
- People often use cadmium-plated containers to store acidic foods such as juices and vinegar, which cause stomach infections.
- Fossil fuels such as coal and oil, when burned, release cadmium fumes in the air, causing air pollution.
- Cadmium poisoning is also caused through water and soil, if industrial wastes are dumped into either of them.
- It also causes the itai-itai disease, which affected more than 500 people in Japan.
Currently, there are no treatments available for cadmium poisoning. Only the symptoms can be contained. The steps mentioned below will help you treat symptoms of cadmium poisoning.
- Inhaling cadmium dust causes life-threatening situations. Always get a medical check done to diagnose the problem. Cadmium poisoning is generally detected by high levels of creatinine in the blood and urine of humans.
- Render gastric lavage or make the infected person vomit within an hour if the person has consumed cadmium salts. Take the person away from the cadmium source and provide him with oxygen.
- Don’t opt for chelation therapy, as it proves toxic for the body when combined with cadmium.
- Avoid smoking, and check your house products for compounds which contain cadmium. If you possess any nickel-cadmium batteries, keep them away from children.
- If you have a well near your home, have your water checked for cadmium levels in it.
Cases of cadmium poisoning are most seen in areas where it is processed or mined. So, take extra care if you live within such an area.