Cadmium poisoning is a recognised hazard in certain industrial processes, such as the manufacture of alloys, cadmium plating and glass blowing. Sewage sludge, which is used as fertiliser, may be contaminated by cadmium from industrial sources; such cadmium could be taken up into vegetable crops and cadmium levels in sewage are carefully monitored.
A tin-like metal, cadmium accumulates in the body. Long-term exposure can lead to EMPHYSEMA, renal failure (see KIDNEYS, DISEASES OF) and urinary-tract CALCULI. Acute exposure causes GASTROENTERITIS and PNEUMONITIS. Cadmium contamination of food is the most likely source of poisoning. The EU Directive on the Quality of Water for Human Consumption lays down 5 milligrams per litre as the upper safe level.