A crystal cadmium bar. Source:

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Cadmium is a bluish-white metal. It is soft and malleable, and it is easily cut with a knife. It is resistant to corrosion and attack by chemicals. It is also an excellent electrical conductor. Cadmium reacts with acids, and it reacts with air when heated. It is similar in many ways to zinc in its chemical properties.


Cadmium is used in bearings, NiCad batteries, control rods for nuclear reactors, standard E.M.F. cells, and many types of solder. It is also used extensively in electroplating, and electroplating accounts for 60% of its use. Cadmium sulfide is used as a yellow pigment.


The only mineral that contains significant amounts of cadmium is greenockite. However, small amounts of cadmium occur associated with zinc ores. Almost all cadmium is obtained as a by-product of the refinement of zinc, copper, and lead ores.

Harmful Effects

Cadmium and its compounds are highly toxic, more toxic than lead or mercury. Cadmium exposure contributes to many health conditions, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Long term exposure to cadmium can cause serious health issues with the kidneys and lungs.


Half of all absorbed cadmium is stored in the liver and kidneys. Cadmium is also stored in the pancreas and salivary glands. The excretion rate of cadmium is usually very low, and it can take many years for cadmium to leave the body.

Sources of Cadmium Exposure(chart)


Chinese Factory Directors Detained After Cadmium Deaths(video)


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