Neuropsychological effects of occupational exposure to cadmium

J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 1989 Dec;11(6):933-43. doi: 10.1080/01688638908400946.


Neuropsychological functioning was measured in 31 male workers exposed to cadmium in a refrigerator coil manufacturing plant. Workers with high urinary cadmium levels performed less well than did those with low urinary cadmium levels on measures of attention, psychomotor speed, and memory. There were modest correlations between one of two biologic measures of cadmium exposure and neuropsychological performance. The neuropsychological impairments cannot readily be attributed to exposure to other neurotoxins, alcohol intake, CNS effects of renal dysfunction, or psychological distress. Cadmium body burden has previously been related to intelligence and school achievement of children; this study would appear to be the first to suggest that occupational exposure to cadmium is associated with cognitive impairment in adults. Cadmium interferes with several important nervous system functions, but the mechanisms of neurotoxicity remain uncertain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cadmium / pharmacokinetics
  • Cadmium Poisoning / diagnosis
  • Cadmium Poisoning / psychology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Processes / drug effects
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurocognitive Disorders / diagnosis
  • Neuropsychological Tests*
  • Occupational Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Occupational Diseases / diagnosis
  • Occupational Diseases / psychology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology*


  • Cadmium