Cadmium (Cd) metal is used in production of many electronic devices, as a stabilizer in polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Inorganic cadmium is also an output of many anthropogenic and natural processes. Burning of fossil fuels, metal refining and smelting, and other industrial processes release cadmium compounds into the environment (Environment and Climate Change Canada 2013).


Health Effects

Depending on the level of exposure, cadmium has been linked to:

  • Cadmium can cause adverse effects on the kidney, lung and intestines (ATSDR 2012).

  • Cadmium is classified as a known human carcinogen, associated with lung and prostate cancer (ATSDR 2012).

  • Cadmium exposure is associated in animal studies with developmental effects, including possible decreases in birth weight, delayed sensory-motor development, hormonal effects, and altered behavior (Schantz 2001).

  • Exposure to cadmium can result in bone loss and increased blood pressure (Arora et al. 2009).

  • Acute toxicity from ingestion of high levels of cadmium can result in abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and death (Gilbert 2004).

  • Acute toxicity from inhalation of high levels of cadmium can result in symptoms similar to metal fume fever and severe gastroenteritis from high levels of cadmium ingestion (Tucker 2008).



Arora, M., Weuve, J., Schwartz, J. & Wright, R. O. Association of environmental cadmium exposure with periodontal disease in U.S. adults. Environ. Health Perspect. 117, 739–744 (2009).

ATSDR. Toxicological Profile for Cadmium. Toxic Substances Portal (2012).

Environment and Climate Change Canada. Inorganic cadmium compounds. Environment and Climate Change Canada (2013).

Gilbert, S. G. A small dose of toxicology: the health effects of common chemicals. (CRC Press, 2004).

Schantz, S. L. & Widholm, J. J. Cognitive effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in animals. Environ. Health Perspect. 109, 1197–1206 (2001).

Tucker, P. G. Cadmium Toxicity. ATSDR Case Stud. Environ. Med. 1–63 (2008).

Published on September 27, 2016

IMPORTANT NOTE: ratings do not provide a measure of health risk or chemical exposure associated with any individual product, or any individual element or related chemical.