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Detecting exposure to cadmium, a toxic heavy metal
The toxicity of cadmium resembles the other heavy metals (arsenic, mercury, and lead) in that it attacks the kidney; renal dysfunction with proteinuria with slow onset (over a period of years) is the typical presentation. Breathing the fumes of cadmium vapors leads to nasal epithelial deterioration and pulmonary congestion resembling chronic emphysema.
The most common source of chronic exposure comes from spray painting of organic-based paints without use of a protective breathing apparatus; auto repair mechanics represent a susceptible group for cadmium toxicity. Tobacco smoke is another common source of cadmium exposure.
Reference values apply to all ages.
Normal blood cadmium is <5.0 mcg/L, with most results in the range of 0.5 to 2.0 mcg/L.
Acute toxicity will be observed when the blood level exceeds 50 mcg/L.
High concentrations of gadolinium and iodine are known to interfere with most metals tests. If either gadolinium- or iodine-containing contrast media has been administered, a specimen cannot be collected for 96 hours.
1. Moreau T, Lellouch J, Juguet B, et al: Blood cadmium levels in a general male population with special reference to smoking. Arch Environ Health 1983;38:163-167
2. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, US Department of Labor: Cadmium Exposure Evaluation. Updated 9/2/2008. Available from URL:osha.gov/SLTC/cadmium/evaluation.html