Cadmium is present in all soil and rocks. Most of the cadmium in the U.S. is extracted while producing other metals like zinc. It resists corrosion, and therefore is used as a coating for metal, in pigments, plastics, and batteries.
Exposure to cadmium mainly occurs from smoking cigarettes or living near industrial facilities, though particles in the air can travel long distances. Shellfish, liver, and kidney meats are all foods that have higher levels of cadmium.
The Department of Health and Human Services has determined that cadmium compounds are known human carcinogens. The EPA maintains that low-level exposure does not increase the risk of cancer, although by definition carcinogens have no threshold level. Breathing high levels of cadmium can cause severe pulmonary damage. Exposure through food can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and kidney disease.
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