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Toxic Heavy Metal Cadmium

Cadmium is a toxic heavy metal and occurs naturally in the Earth’s crust, yet anthropogenic sources also contribute to the presence of cadmium in the biosphere. These sources include industrial emissions such as metal mining and smelting, industrial and agricultural waste, phosphate fertilizer, sewage sludge, burning coal, as well as the use of batteries and alloys. For these reasons, cadmium ultimately ends up in the soils and sediments of our waterbodies. Cadmium is then also transferred from the soil to plants that are further processed into food and feed. When it enters the food chain, it ultimately ends up in the human body.

About 90% of human cadmium absorption can be traced back to food. The remaining exposure is through a combination of ambient air and drinking water. Oil seeds, cacao beans, wild mushrooms, nuts, cereals, algae, and certain types of vegetables are among the foods with the highest levels of cadmium contamination. Offal and seafood can also demonstrate high levels of cadmium.

Cadmium is absorbed by the body through the gastrointestinal tract at a rate or 5%. It is mainly deposited in the kidneys but can also be detected in other organs such as the liver, thyroid, pancreas, salivary gland, and bones. Since cadmium can only be eliminated very slowly, over the course of time it accumulates in the body. As previously mentioned, cadmium is primarily stored the kidneys, and as a result, they are the organs most affected by its toxicity. Signs of cadmium toxicity include impaired kidney function. For tobacco smokers, cadmium concentrations in the kidneys are about twice as high as for nonsmokers, since tobacco smoke serves as a significant source of cadmium absorption.

Maximum levels for cadmium in a variety of food products are defined in the Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006. If you have any further questions on this topic or are interested in analyzing for cadmium, we will be happy to assist you.



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