Saturday, June 5, 2010

Reasons you don't want Cadmium in your lunch

It's normal when we see all this news and talks about discovering a material like cadmium in any industrial equipment or in some inner parts of day use gadgets, but it is way too far of normal when this material being discovered in something we put in our mouth. So why really this element is very dangerous to enter our body, even by very low concentrations. or by the title, what is the reasons you don't want cadmium in your food.

You should know what in 50' and 60' of the last century, cadmium was very common in industry and it's exposure was very high due to the lack of knowledge about it's side effects, but in time, with more research in this field, this exposures got reduced by replacing this dangerous element with something safer.

Main Sources of Cadmium Exposure:
  • Silver soldering fumes and cadmium-plating.
  • Food grown by industrial areas might contains it. Plants may contain little amounts, but high levels may be found in the liver and kidneys of adult animals.
  • Cigarettes are a significant source of cadmium too. Although there is generally less cadmium in tobacco than in food, the lungs absorb cadmium more efficiently than the stomach.
  • Smelting and refining of metals, and working in plants that make cadmium products such as batteries, coatings, or plastics can be a strong source of exposure.
  • Phosphate in fertilizers in some cases may contain cadmium in amounts of up to 100 mg/kg, that might lead to the increase of this element concentration in the soil.
  • Ni-Cad batteries are the most common source for cadmium, that's why they are very toxic and should never be opened or get into flames, and also they should never left in soil which will absorb the elements and increase the concentration as we said.

So what really might happen?

Strong and direct exposure to cadmium may cause flu-like and chill as symptoms, fever and muscle pain. Symptoms may resolve after a week if there is no respiratory damage.

More severe exposures can cause tracheo-bronchitis, pneumonia, and pulmonary edema. Symptoms of inflammation may start hours after the exposure and include cough, dryness and irritation of the nose and throat, headache, dizziness, weakness, fever, chills, and chest pain.

Inhaling cadmium-laden dust quickly leads to respiratory tract and kidney problems which can be fatal (often from renal failure). Ingestion of any significant amount of cadmium causes immediate poisoning and damage to the liver and the kidneys. Compounds containing cadmium are also carcinogenic.

The bones become soft (osteomalacia), lose bone mineral density (osteoporosis) and become weaker. This causes the pain in the joints and the back, and also increases the risk of fractures. In extreme cases of cadmium poisoning, mere body weight causes a fracture.

The kidneys lose their function to remove acids from the blood in proximal renal tubular dysfunction. The kidney damage inflicted by cadmium poisoning is irreversible. The proximal renal tubular dysfunction creates low phosphate levels in the blood (hypophosphatemia), causing muscle weakness and sometimes coma.

The dysfunction also causes gout, a form of arthritis due to the accumulation of uric acid crystals in the joints because of high acidity of the blood (hyperuricemia). Another side effect is increased levels of chloride in the blood (hyperchloremia). The kidneys can also shrink up to 30%.
Other patients lose their sense of smell (anosmia).

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