Cadmium Exposure and Nephropathy in a 28-Year-Old Female Metals Worker

Wittman, Richard; Hu, Howard
December 2002
Environmental Health Perspectives;Dec2002, Vol. 110 Issue 12, p1261
Academic Journal
A 28-year-old female presented for evaluation of left flank pain and polyuria after having been exposed to cadmium in the jewelry manufacturing industry for approximately 3 years. This patient possessed both elevated 24-hr urinary β[sub 2]-microglobulin and elevated blood cadmium levels. Approximately 6 months after initial presentation, the patient resigned from her job due to shortness of breath, chest pain, and anxiety. Exposure to cadmium in the jewelry industry is a significant source of occupational cadmium exposure. Other occupational sources include the manufacture of nickel-cadmium batteries, metal plating, zinc and lead refining, smelting of cadmium and lead, and production of plastics. Cadmium is also an environmental pollutant that accumulates in leafy vegetables and plants, including tobacco. Major toxicities anticipated from cadmium exposure involve the renal, pulmonary, and, to a lesser extent, gastrointestinal systems. These include the development of renal proximal tubular dysfunction, glomerutar damage with progressive renal disease, and respiratory symptoms including pneumonitis and emphysema. Low-level cadmium exposure has also been associated with increased urinary calcium excretion and direct bone toxicity, effects that recent research suggests may result in the development of osteoporosis. The body burden of cadmium, over half of which may reside in the kidneys, is most often measured through the use of urinary cadmium levels. Blood cadmium measurements generally reflect current or recent exposure and are especially useful in cases with a short exposure period and only minimal accumulation of cadmium in the kidneys. Both β[sub 2]-microglobulin and α[sub 1]-microglobulin serve as organ-specific, early-effect biomarkers of tubular proteinuria and thus play a role in identifying early signs of cadmium-induced renal damage in those with potential exposures. In addition to ensuring workplace compliance with Occupational Safety...


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