Acute cadmium fume poisoning. Five cases with one death from renal necrosis

Br J Ind Med. 1966 Oct;23(4):292-301. doi: 10.1136/oem.23.4.292.


This paper describes the accidental poisoning of five workers by cadmium fume. The men were dismantling a frame of girders in a confined space by cutting bolts with an oxyacetylene burner. They were unaware at the time that the bolts were cadmium-plated or that this presented a serious industrial hazard.

The paper sets out to give an appreciation of acute cadmium poisoning, the characteristics and uses of cadmium, and a review of the literature. The clinical picture of these cases is described, with the pathology of the fatal case which showed severe pulmonary oedema, alveolar metaplasia of the lung, and bilateral cortical necrosis of the kidneys. The lungs contained 0·25 g. cadmium oxide (CdO) per 100 g. wet specimen.

An attempted estimation of the fatal dose of CdO fume is made. From the post-mortem findings, using an assumption that 11% of inhaled CdO will be retained in the lungs, approximately 51·7 mg. CdO fume must have been inhaled by the fatal case. As he worked for five hours with a probable ventilatory rate of 20 l./min. the concentration of CdO in the air breathed would be of the order of 8·6 mg./m.3. An estimation of the dose from a study of the working conditions proved unsatisfactory due to certain variables listed in the text.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollution
  • Cadmium Poisoning* / complications*
  • Cadmium Poisoning* / pathology
  • Humans
  • Kidney Cortex Necrosis / chemically induced*
  • Kidney Tubules / pathology
  • Male
  • Metaplasia / chemically induced*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Alveoli / pathology*
  • Pulmonary Edema / chemically induced*
  • Pulmonary Edema / diagnostic imaging
  • Radiography
  • Welding