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Cadmium is a metal that is found naturally in the earth's crust. However, the most common forms of cadmium that are found in the environment exist in combination with other elements, such as oxygen, chlorine, and sulfur. All soils and rocks contain cadmium.
Most cadmium used in the United States is extracted during the production of other metals like zinc, lead, and copper. Cadmium does not corrode easily and has many uses, including in batteries, pigments, metal coatings, and plastics.
There are many ways you can be exposed to cadmium:
  • Eating foods that contain cadmium - low levels of cadmium are found in all foods; the highest levels of cadmium are found in leafy greens, vegetables, legumes, and kidney meat
  • Smoking cigarettes or breathing cigarette smoke - cadmium is found in tobacco plants; people who smoke typically have twice the amount of cadmium in their bodies as people who do not smoke
  • Breathing in air that is contaminated with cadmium
  • Drinking water that is contaminated with cadmium

Exposure to cadmium can harm human health, but this depends on how much and how long someone is exposed to it. Eating or drinking high levels of cadmium over a short period of time can irritate the stomach and bowels and cause vomiting and diarrhea. Breathing in high levels of cadmium in a short period of time can damage the lungs and lead to death. Although acute symptoms are of concern, the greatest concern is being exposed to low amounts of cadmium over a long period of time, which can lead to long-term kidney and lung damage. Furthermore, cadmium is also considered a human carcinogen, which means it is capable of causing cancer.
The most common way to be exposed to cadmium is working in an industry that uses cadmium. However, the general population can be exposed to cadmium by breathing cigarette smoke and eating foods that contain cadmium. People who live near industries or factories that release cadmium into the air are more likely to be exposed than those who do not.
Here are some suggestions to reduce your risk of exposure to cadmium:
  • Do not allow children to play with batteries; dispose of nickel-cadmium batteries properly
  • If you work with cadmium, follow all safety precautions to avoid carrying dust that contains cadmium home with you on your clothes, hair, skin, and tools
  • Do not smoke - cadmium is present in tobacco smoke
  • If you smoke, avoid smoking in enclosed spaces like in the home or car; this will limit exposure for children and family members
  • Eat a balanced diet - doing so can reduce the amount of cadmium taken into the body from food and drink
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The Utah EPHTN does not track cadmium data.
The links listed below redirect you to health assessments that have been conducted in Utah that are relevant to cadmium. The Utah APPLETREE program at the Utah Department of Health is responsible for evaluating and responding to environmental public health issues in Utah. For more information, please visit the Utah APPLETREE website.

The information provided above is from the Utah Department of Health's Center for Health Data IBIS-PH web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Thu, 30 June 2022 4:36:21 from Utah Department of Health, Center for Health Data, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site: ".

Content updated: Tue, 17 Apr 2018 10:49:20 MDT