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Toxic Substances and Health
Section Contents
Key Concepts
Continuing Education
Case Contents
Table of Contents
How to Use This Course
Initial Check
Where Found
Exposure Pathways
Safety Standards
Who is at Risk
Biological Fate
Pathogenic Changes
Acute Effects
Chronic Effects
Risk Factors
Clinical Assessment
Laboratory Evaluation
Patient Instructions
More Information
Literature Cited
Case Studies (CSEM)
Continuing Education
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ATSDR Resources
Case Studies (CSEM)
Exposure Pathways
Health Assessments
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Managing Incidents
Medical Guidelines
Minimal Risk Levels
Priority List
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Toxicology Curriculum
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Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Case Studies in Environmental Medicine (CSEM) 

Cadmium Toxicity
Cover Page

Course: WB 1096
CE Original Date: May 12, 2008
CE Expiration Date: May 12, 2011

Key Concepts

  • Prevention is the key to managing cadmium exposure. No effective treatment for cadmium toxicity exists.
  • For the general public, the primary source of exposure to cadmium is dietary.
  • Smoking tobacco adds an additional burden of cadmium.
  • Nutritional deficiencies can increase the risk of cadmium toxicity.
  • Chronic cadmium exposure primarily affects the kidneys and secondarily the bones.
  • Acute inhalation of fumes containing cadmium affects the lungs.

About This and Other Case Studies in Environmental Medicine

This educational case study document is one in a series of self-instructional publications designed to increase the primary care provider’s knowledge of hazardous substances in the environment and to promote the adoption of medical practices that aid in the evaluation and care of potentially exposed patients. The complete series of Case Studies in Environmental Medicine is located on the ATSDR Web site at www.atsdr.cdc.gov/csem/. In addition, the downloadable PDF version of this educational series and other environmental medicine materials provides content in an electronic, printable format, especially for those who may lack adequate Internet service.

How to Apply for and Receive Continuing Education Credit

See Internet address www2.cdc.gov/atsdrce/ for more information about continuing medical education credits, continuing nursing education credits, and other continuing education units.


We gratefully acknowledge the work that the medical writers, editors, and reviewers have provided to produce this educational resource. Listed below are those who have contributed to development of this version of the Case Study in Environmental Medicine.

ATSDR Author: Pamela G. Tucker, MD

ATSDR Planners: Valerie J. Curry, MS; John Doyle, MPA; Bruce J. Fowler, Ph.D.; Kimberly Gehle, MD; Sharon L. Hall, Ph.D.; Michael Hatcher, DrPH; Kimberly Jenkins, BA; Ronald T. Jolly; Delene Roberts, MSA; Oscar Tarrago, MD, MPH, CHES; Brian Tencza, MS; Pamela Tucker, MD

ATSDR Commenters: Jessilyn Taylor, MS; Pamela Tucker, MD

Peer Reviewers: Jonathan Benjamin Borak, MD; Kenneth D. Rosenman, M.D., F.A.C.P.M., F.A.C.E.


The state of knowledge regarding the treatment of patients potentially exposed to hazardous substances in the environment is constantly evolving and is often uncertain. In this educational monograph, ATSDR has made diligent effort to ensure the accuracy and currency of the information presented, but makes no claim that the document comprehensively addresses all possible situations related to this substance. This monograph is intended as an educational resource for physicians and other health professionals in assessing the condition and managing the treatment of patients potentially exposed to hazardous substances. It is not, however, a substitute for the professional judgment of a health care provider. The document must be interpreted in light of specific information regarding the patient and in conjunction with other sources of authority.

Use of trade names and commercial sources is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Department of Health and Human Services

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Division of Toxicology and Environmental Medicine
Environmental Medicine and Educational Services Branch

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Revised 2008-05-12