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Cadmium

General Description

  • Synonyms: Cadmium metal; Cadmium dust; Other synonyms vary depending upon the specific cadmium compound
  • OSHA IMIS Code Number: C141
  • Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) Registry Number: 7440-43-9 (elemental)
  • NIOSH Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances (RTECS) Identification Number: EU9800000 (elemental)
  • Department of Transportation Regulation Number (49 CFR 172.101) and Emergency Response Guidebook: 2570 154 (cadmium compound)
  • NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards, Cadmium dust (as Cd): Physical description, chemical properties, potentially hazardous incompatibilities, and more
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Hazard Summary, Cadmium: Uses, sources and potential exposure, acute and chronic health hazard information, and more

Exposure Limits and Health Effects

Exposure Limit Limit Values HE Codes Health Factors and Target Organs
OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) - General Industry*
See 29 CFR 1910.1027
  • 5 µg/m3
  • TWA
  •  
  • 2.5 µg/m3 
  • Action Level
HE1 Increased risk of lung and prostate cancer
HE3 Kidney damage
HE11 Acute pulmonary edema
HE16 Mild irritation of the upper respiratory tract, a sensation of throat constriction, a metallic taste and/or cough
HE17 Asphyxia
OSHA PEL - Construction Industry
See 29 CFR 1926.1127
  • 5 µg/m3
  • TWA
  •  
  • 2.5 µg/m
  • Action Level
HE1 Increased risk of lung and prostate cancer
HE3 Kidney damage
HE11 Acute pulmonary edema
HE16 Mild irritation of the upper respiratory tract, a sensation of throat constriction, a metallic taste and/or cough
HE17 Asphyxia
OSHA PEL - Shipyard Employment
See 29 CFR 1915.1027
  • 5 µg/m3
  • TWA
  •  
  • 2.5 µg/m
  • Action Level
HE1 Increased risk of lung and prostate cancer
HE3 Kidney damage
HE11 Acute pulmonary edema
HE16 Mild irritation of the upper respiratory tract, a sensation of throat constriction, a metallic taste and/or cough
HE17 Asphyxia
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Recommended Exposure Limit (REL)
See Appendix A
  • Not established (lowest feasible concentration)
  •  
  • Note: The REL applies to all cadmium compounds (as Cd)
  •  
  • Ca
HE1 Prostate cancer
HE3 Kidney dysfunction
HE10 Pulmonary changes, including emphysema
HE12 Anemia
American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) Threshold Limit Value (TLV) (2001)
  • 0.01 mg/m3 TWA
  • (total particulate)
HE3 Preclinical kidney dysfunction
HE4 Metal fume fever*
  • 0.002 mg/m3
  • TWA
  • (respirable particulate fraction)
HE1 Lung cancer
HE4 Metal fume fever**
A2; BEI  
CAL/OSHA PEL 0.005 mg/m3    

* The cadmium fume PELs of 0.1 mg/m3 TWA and 0.3 mg/m3 Ceiling and the cadmium dust PELs of 0.2 mg/m3 TWA and 0.6 mg/m3 Ceiling (see 29 CFR 1910.1000 Table Z-2) apply to any operations or sectors for which the Cadmium standard, 1910.1027, is stayed or otherwise not in effect. ** Metal fume fever is a temporary condition caused by inhaling cadmium fumes. Symptoms typically include chills, fever, upset stomach, vomiting, dryness of the throat, cough, weakness, and achiness.

Separate Engineering Control Airborne Limits (SECALs) for Processes in Selected Industries
Industry Process SECAL (µg/m3)
Nickel Cadmium Battery Plate making, plate preparation All other processes 50 15
Zinc/Cadmium Refining* Cadmium refining, casting, melting, oxide production, sinter plant 50
Pigment Manufacture Calcine, crushing, milling, blending All other processes 50 15
Stabilizers* Cadmium oxide charging, crushing, drying, blending 50
Lead Smelting* Sinter plant, blast furnace, baghouse, yard area 50
Plating* Mechanical plating 15

*Processes in these industries that are not specified in this table must achieve the PEL using engineering controls and work practices as required in f(1)(i).

National Toxicology Program (NTP) carcinogenic classification: Known to be a human carcinogen  (PDF)

International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) carcinogenic classification : Group 1, (carcinogenic to humans) (PDF) 

EPA carcinogenic classification: Probable human carcinogen - based on limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans

EPA Inhalation Reference Concentration (RfC): Not established

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) Inhalation Minimal Risk Levels (MRLs): 0.00003 mg/m3 (acute); 0.00001 mg/m3 (chronic)

NIOSH Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health (IDLH) concentration: 9 mg Cd/m3

Notes on Other Potential Health Effects and Hazards

  1. Cadmium is flammable in its powder form and is spontaneously combustible in its pyrophoric form (NIOSH/ICPS 2005).
  2. Occupational exposure to cadmium may increase the risk of high blood pressure, low bone mineral density, and osteoporosis (Poreba et al. 2010; Nawrot et al. 2010).
  3. Cadmium may be a teratogen (NIOSH 1976).

Date Last Revised: 12/11/2012

Literature Basis:

  • ACGIH: Documentation of the Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) and Biological Exposure Indices (BEIs) ­ Cadmium and Compounds. 2001.
  • Nawrot T, Geusens P, Nulens TS, Nemery B: Occupational cadmium exposure and calcium excretion, bone density, and osteoporosis in men. J Bone Miner Res. 25(6):1441-5, June 2010.
  • NIOSH: Criteria for a Recommended Standard: Occupational Exposure to Cadmium. 1976.
  • NIOSH: Occupational Health Guideline for Cadmium Dust (as Cadmium). 1978.
  • NIOSH/IPCS: International Chemical Safety Cards - Cadmium. April 22, 2005.
  • NTP Report on Carcinogens Cadmium and Cadmium Compounds
  • OSHA: Occupational Safety and Health Standards, Substance Safety Data Sheet - Cadmium. 1910.1027 App A
  • Poreba R, Gac P, Poreba M, Derkacz A, Pilecki W, Antonowicz-Juchniewicz J, Andrzejak R: Relationship between chronic exposure to lead, cadmium and manganese, blood pressure values and incidence of arterial hypertension. Med Pr. 61(1):5-14, 2010.

Monitoring Methods used by OSHA

Laboratory Sampling/Analytical Method:
  • Mixed Cellulose Ester Filter (MCEF) 0.8 microns
  • maximum volume: 960 Liters  minimum volume: 480 Liters
  • maximum flow rate: 2.0 L/min TWA
  • current analytical method: Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy; AAS/GF
  • method reference: OSHA Analytical Method (OSHA ID-189)
  • method classification: Fully Validated
  • alternate analytical method: Inductively Coupled Plasma; ICP-AES/MS, AAS
  • method reference: OSHA Analytical Methods (OSHA ID-125G, OSHA ID-206, OSHA ID-105, OSHA ID-121), & OSHA 1006
  • method classification: Fully Validated
  • note: If the filter is not overloaded, samples should be collected up to an 8-hour period or for the duration of the cadmium exposure.

** All Trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

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