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Cadmium Contamination In Water – What Are The Risks?

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A crystal cadmium bar. Purity 99.999 %. Made b...

A crystal cadmium bar. So shiny and yet so poisonous… (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cadmium, a naturally occurring chemical element, is hardly ever found alone and is always produced as a by-product of mining, smelting and refining sulfidic ores of zinc. It is a chemically stable element and shares common attributes to the two other metals in its group: zinc and mercury. Where Zinc is important to health as an essential mineral, Cadmium has no biological value and is, instead, quite toxic.

What Could Cadmium Do To Me?

If inhaled, Cadmium can cause a metal fume fever, or what has been called “the cadmium blues”, which manifests with symptoms of fever, chills, nausea, headache, fatigue, joint pain, muscle aches, shortness of breath, chest pain and a metallic taste in the mouth. This can progress to Pneumonitis, pulmonary edema and death. People who work with cadmium now must follow extensive safety procedures to minimize inhalation.

Ingestion of cadmium causes immediate poisoning and damage to the liver and kidneys, including renal failure which is fatal. Cadmium affects bones as well, making them soft and to lose density. This causes pain in the joints and in the back. The risk of fracture increases alarmingly. In extreme cases, mere bodyweight can cause fractures. The most extreme case of Cadmium poisoning was just prior to WWII when Japanese mining corporations contaminated the Jinzu River, poisoning the people, and their rice crops. It wasn’t until the 1940’s that Cadmium was identified as the culprit for the death and illness of so many people. Compounds containing cadmium are also considered carcinogenic.

Identified in 1817, Cadmium had limited use in pigments and as a medicine in the form of cadmium iodide for the treatment of “enlarged joints, scroflulous glands and chilblains”. It was not until industrial production of Cadmium began that its uses became less limited. Industrial production of Cadmium began in the 1930’s because it was used for the coating of iron and steel to prevent corrosion. In 1956 24% of cadmium was used to create red, orange and yellow pigments.

Use of cadmium in coatings and pigments has decreased, due to environmental concerns and the increased use of cadmium for nickel-cadmium batteries, which accounted for 81% of cadmium consumption in the US as of 2006. Some pigments still use cadmium and artists who use dry media such as pastels or who mix their own paints are warned to be careful of their exposure.

Today Cadmium is used in electroplating, batteries, nuclear fission, and in various laboratory applications including lasers and semiconductors. Due to its continued use in pigments it has been the cause of several product recalls in recent history, including promotional drinking glasses for the movie Shrek Forever After from McDonald’s Restaurants.

Why Might There Be Cadmium In My Water?

Cadmium is still a by-product of mining and smelting and as such is found in industrial and municipal waste. Because of this, and because of its use in galvanized pipes, solders and black polyethylene pipes, cadmium can find its way into water sources. Health Canada drinking water guidelines ensure that cadmium is tested for and that the measurement is less than 0.005 mg/L in drinking water before distribution, which is considered the maximum acceptable concentration. These measurements are based on the calculation of exposure over time for the average consumer. If cadmium or other trace metals in your water concern you, then a home water filtration device is an excellent addition to your home. For more information on how water filtration devices can purify your drinking water, please contact us now or visit our online store.

If you’re at all concerned about the quality of your water, or you simply want to be certain, you should choose an Aquasafe Home Reverse Osmosis System. An Aquasafe Home Reverse Osmosis system will remove all contaminants from water, including THM’s and HAA’s, producing guaranteed safe water you can count on every time. And it’s only a few cents per liter! Shop online and save today.

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