Agent Name


Alternative Name

Cadmium and compounds

CAS Number

7440-43-9; varies


Cd, varies

Major Category



Cadmium and compounds, as Cd; [ACGIH] Cadmium metal; Cadmium dust (as Cd); [NIOSH]


Cadmium Compounds, Inorganic


Metal: Silver-white, blue-tinged lustrous, odorless solid; [NIOSH]


Sources of cadmium exposure include: emissions from fossil fuel burning (>40 ng/m3 in polluted urban areas); cigarettes (1-3 ug/pack); drinking water (usually <1 ppb); and food (2-40 ppb); [ATSDR ToxProfiles] MINING, SMELTING, OR METALLURGY: Smelt & refine zinc, lead or copper ores; alloy production; reclaim scrap metal; MANUFACTURING: Nickel-cadmium batteries; pigments for plastics, glass, ceramics & paints; printing & dyeing textiles; fungicides; USING OR DISPOSING: Weld, cut, or burn; braze using cadmium-based solder; spray paint; electroplate; remove coatings;


Inhaling high concentrations of cadmium fume can cause acute pneumonitis. At levels common in factories in the past, cadmium accumulated in the kidneys of workers and caused chronic renal injury with elevated urine cadmium and protein levels. Cadmium levels in adult nonsmokers, not occupationally exposed are <0.5 ug/100 ml whole blood and <2 ug/g creatinine in urine. [Zenz, p. 482] In animal studies, high doses increase fetal loss and birth defects. [ATSDR Case Studies #29] Cadmium fume is associated with airway obstruction and emphysema. [Hendrick, p. 82] "The proximal tubule is the primary target of cadmium-induced kidney injury, but at higher exposures, the glomeruli can also be affected. . . . Measurement of cadmium in urine is the most widely used biological measure of chronic exposure to cadmium. However, it may provide no information on integrated exposure during the first year of exposure." [ACGIH]


OSHA standard 1910.1027 defines exposure monitoring, respiratory protection and medical surveillance for workers exposed above the action level of 2.5 ug/m3.

Reference Link

OSHA Technical Links: Cadmium

Exposure Assessment

Cd in urine = 5 ug/g creatinine; Cd in blood = 5 ug/L; sampling time not critical; "Blood monitoring should be preferred during the initial year of exposure and whenever changes in the degree of exposure are suspected." [ACGIH]

Skin Designation (ACGIH)

Insufficient data




0.01 mg/m3, as Cd ( 0.002 mg/m3, as Cd, respirable fraction)


0.005 mg/m3, as Cd, see 29 CFR 1910.1027


9 mg/m3, as Cd

Excerpts from Documentation for IDLHs

Human data: It has been reported that exposure to 9 mg/m3 of cadmium fume for 5 hours is a lethal dose [Beton et al. 1966]. Fatalities have resulted from exposures to concentrations estimated to be 40 to 50 mg/m3 for 1 hour [Barrett and Card 1947; Bulmer et al. 1938; Reinl 1961]. The lethal dose of thermally generated cadmium oxide fume of not more than 2,900 mgmin/m3 has been reported [Barrett and Card 1947], which is equivalent to about 85 mg Cd/m3 for 30 minutes. It has been reported that 39 mg Cd/m3 was a fatal exposure after 20 minutes [Zavon and Meadows 1970].

Lethal Concentration

LC50 (rat) = 25 mg/m3/30 min

Explanatory Notes

Melting Point = 610 degrees F; Boiling Point = 1409 degrees F;

Half Life

Blood: 1-3 months; whole body: 10-100 years; [TDR, p. 233] Whole body half-life exceeds 15 years; [Zenz, p. 482] "The half-life of cadmium is long (10-30 years) due to accumulation of Cd in kidneys." [ACGIH]

Reference Link

ATSDR - ToxFAQs - Cadmium

Adverse Effects
Toxic Pneumonitis




Reproductive Toxin


IARC Carcinogen

Known Carcinogen

NTP Carcinogen

Human Carcinogen

ACGIH Carcinogen

Suspected Human

Links to Other NLM Databases
Health Studies

Human Health Effects from Hazardous Substances Data Bank:

Toxicity Information


Chemical Information

Search ChemIDplus

Biomedical References

Search PubMed

Related Information in HazMap

Occupational diseases associated with exposure to this agent:


Industrial Processes with risk of exposure:


Activities with risk of exposure: