Health Effects of Cadmium

Presence of cadmium in drinking water is hazardous to human health. Renal, cardiovascular, respiratory and skeletal effects have been found to be induced by cadmium exposure. Cadmium can induce renal tubular dysfunction leading to renal lesion and irreversible impairment of reabsorption capacity of renal tubules. Combine concentration of metallothionein, a cadmium binding protein, and cadmium can be found in the renal cortex of Kidneys (Queensland Health, 2002). Increased excretion of low molecular weight proteins such as B2-microglobulin and alpha1-microglobulin and enzymes such as N-acetyl-B-D-glocosaminidase (NAG) or tubular proteinuria may be caused by exposure to cadmium (Jarup, 2003; WHO, 2011). Destroyed arrangement of mineral metabolism and nutritional deficiencies are associated with accumulation of cadmium in the Kidneys (Queensland Health, 2002).

Kidney stones have been associated with cadmium. Renal damage and conditions such as hypercalciuria and hyperphosphateuria may result kidney stone (CDC, 2013). Skeletal damage, osteomalacia or osteoporosis might occur as a result of long term exposure to Cadmium (Jarup, 2003; WHO, 2011). Many cases of skeletal disease also known as itai-itai disease was reported in Japan in the 1950s due to long term exposure to cadmium in drinking water (Jarup, 2003; WHO, 2011).

Respiratory disease and bone disease could be resulted due to long term (20-30 years) accumulation of cadmium in Kidney (ICdA, n.d.). Stomach irritation, vomiting and diarrhoea could be resulted from drinking water with high levels of cadmium (Illinois Department of Public Health, n.d.; Queensland Health, 2002). Illinois Department of Public Health (n.d.) suggested the probability of low birth weight babies for women exposed to cadmium. Suppression of testicular function could be induced by Cadmium toxicity (Queensland Health, 2002).


Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2013) Cadmium Toxicity: What Diseases are Associated with Chronic Exposure to Cadmium [Online] Available at [Accessed on 09 January 2015].

Illinois Department of Public Health (n.d.) Environmental Health Fact Sheet [Online] Available at [Accessed on 5 January 2015].

International Cadmium Association (ICdA)(n.d.) Cadmium Exposure and Human Health [Online] Available at [Accesses on 5 January 2015].

Queensland Health (2002) Cadmium [Online] Available at [Accessed on 5 January 2015].

World Health Organization (WHO) (2011) Cadmium in Drinking Water: Background Document for Development of WHO Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality [Online] Available at [Accessed on 5 January 2015].


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