Heavy Metal Pollution

What Is Heavy Metal Poisoning?
Heavy metal poisoning is caused by the accumulation of certain metals in the body due to exposure through food, water, industrial chemicals, or other sources. While our body needs small amount of some heavy metals — such as zinc, copper, cadmium, chromium, iron, and manganese — toxic amounts are harmful. If your body’s soft tissues accumulate too much of heavy metals, the resulting poisoning can cause serious damage. Lead, mercury, arsenic, and cadmium are the metals most commonly associated with heavy metal poisoning in the United States.
Causes of Heavy Metal Poisoning
Industrial exposure
Air or water pollution
Improperly coated food containers, plates, and cookware
Ingestion of lead-based paints

What is Cadmium and where is it?
Cadmium is a naturally occurring metal found in the earth’s crust. It is always found combined with other substances such as oxygen (cadmium oxide), sulphur (cadmium sulphate, or sulphide) and chlorine (cadmium chloride). Cadmium compounds are often found in or attached to small particles in the air. Soil and rocks contain varying amounts – generally very small – but sometimes in larger amounts e.g. fossil fuels or fertilisers). Cadmium is extracted as a by-product during the production of other metals such as zinc, lead and copper. It has many uses in industry and consumer products mainly in batteries, pigments, metal coatings, plastics and some metal alloys

Where does the cadmium found in humans?
Cadmium compounds are found naturally in zinc, lead and copper ores and where these ores are processed cadmium finds its way into the air, water or soil in the surrounding areas. In addition, the use of certain fertilisers can increase the cadmium concentration in the local soil. Smoking cigarettes is another common way cadmium enters in our bodies. Smokers take in cadmium every time they smoke a cigarette as cadmium is contained in every cigarette and is easily absorbed through the lungs. Cadmium cannot enter your body through the skin so touching contaminated water or soil doesn’t increase the amount of cadmium in your body.

Other things contain cadmium including • Some fungicides and fertilisers • Batteries ( Nickel- cadmium batteries) • Fabric dyes, ceramic (pottery) and glass glazes • Welding or electroplating metals

Cadmium Poisoning
Cadmium is used for many items, including electroplating, storage batteries, vapour lamps and in some solders. The onset of symptoms may be delayed for two to four hours after exposure. Overexposure may cause fatigue, headaches, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and fever. In addition, progressive loss of lung function (emphysema), abnormal buildup of fluid within the lungs (pulmonary edema), and breathlessness (dyspnea) may also be present. In some cases, affected individuals may exhibit increased salivation, yellowing of the teeth an unusually rapid heartbeat (tachycardia) low levels of iron within the red blood cells (anemia), bluish discoloration (cyanosis) of the skin and mucous membranes due to insufficient oxygen supply to these tissues; and/or an impaired sense of smell (anosmia). Individuals with cadmium poisoning may also experience improper functioning of the canals with the kidney (renal tubular dysfunction) characterized by excretion of abnormally high levels of protein in the urine (proteinuria), minor changes in liver function, and/or softening of certain bones (osteomalacia).

By – Assistant Professor – Deeksha Semwal
Department of Agriculture
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