Source: Found in low concentrations in rocks, coal, and petroleum and enters the groundwater and surface water when dissolved by acidic waters. May enter the environment from industrial discharge, mining waste, metal plating, water pipes, batteries, paints and pigments, plastic stabilizers, and landfill leachate.
Replaces zinc biochemically in the body and causes high blood pressure, liver and kidney damage, and anemia. Destroys testicular tissue and red blood cells. Toxic to aquatic biota.
Food and the smoking of tobacco are common sources of general exposure. This inorganic metal is a contaminant in the metals used to galvanize pipe. It generally gets into water by corrosion of galvanized pipes or by improper waste disposal. This chemical has been shown to damage the kidneys in animals such as rats and mice when the animals are exposed at high levels over their lifetimes. Some industrial workers who were exposed to relatively large amounts of this chemical during working careers also suffered damage to the kidneys. EPA has set the drinking water standard for cadmium at 0.005 part per million (ppm) to protect against the risk of these adverse health effects. Drinking water that meets the EPA standard is associated with little to none of this risk and is considered safe with respect to cadmium.