Cadmium in food production systems: a health risk for sensitive population groups

Ambio. 2005 Jun;34(4-5):344-51. doi: 10.1639/0044-7447(2005)034[0344:cifpsa];2.


This paper gives an overview of the cadmium (Cd) situation in agricultural systems and human exposure in Sweden. Cadmium levels in agricultural soils (the plow layer) increase by 0.03% to 0.05% per year. Feed can give substantial contributions of Cd to local agricultural systems. Effects on human kidney function are indicated by some measurements already at today's exposure levels. If food products reach the maximum permissible levels given by the European Union, 10% to 25% of the Swedish population will be exposed to Cd levels above the provisional tolerable weekly intake (PTWI 7 microg Cd kg(-1) body weight). Sensitive groups in the population are individuals with low iron status (mainly women) and kidney disorders. Recent studies indicate that Cd plays a role in osteoporosis and that further research is needed to clarify if Cd is neurotoxic in early developmental stages. Firm actions have to be taken in order to stop a further increase of Cd in agricultural soils. Suggestions for prevention and measures are given in this paper.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture / methods
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / prevention & control
  • Animals
  • Cadmium / analysis*
  • Cattle
  • Crops, Agricultural
  • Environmental Exposure / prevention & control
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods
  • Food Chain
  • Food Contamination / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Maximum Allowable Concentration
  • Rats
  • Renal Insufficiency / prevention & control
  • Soil Pollutants / analysis*
  • Sweden
  • Swine


  • Soil Pollutants
  • Cadmium