Investigations on the lung and kidney function in workers exposed to cadmium

Environ Health Perspect. 1979 Feb:28:137-45. doi: 10.1289/ehp.7928137.


The kidney seems more sensitive to the chronic effect of cadmium than the lung. Only minor impairments of lung function (mild form of obstructive lung disease) were found after long-term occupational exposure (less than 20 yr) to moderate concentration of cadmium oxide dust and fume. This conclusion, cannot, however be extrapolated to acute or subacute inhalational exposure. The nephrotoxicity of cadmium consists in a tubular dysfunction characterized by an increased excretion of beta 2-microglobulin and giving rise to the classical tubular proteinuria and in a glomerular dysfunction evidenced by an increased excretion of high molecular weight proteins and increased levels of beta 2-microglobulin and creatinine in plasma and giving rise to a glomerular type proteinuria. These renal changes were mainly found in workers whose cadmium concentration at time of the survey exceeded 1 microgram Cd/100 ml in blood and 10 microgram Cd/g creatinine in urine. It should, however, be stressed that higher levels of Cd in blood and in urine are not necessarily associated with the presence of excessive proteinuria. In newly exposed workers, the Cd level in blood increases progressively to a plateau after several weeks. Cadmium level in urine fluctuates more. In workers exposed for several months to an airborne concentration exceeding 200 microgram/m3, Cd concentration in urine seems mainly influenced by recent exposure.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Belgium
  • Body Height
  • Cadmium Poisoning / physiopathology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Electrophoresis, Agar Gel
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney / drug effects
  • Lung Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Pregnancy
  • Proteinuria / blood
  • Proteinuria / chemically induced*
  • Rats
  • Smoking
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors