National Drinking Water Database
National Drinking Water Database - Chemical Contaminants
Status: Regulated - EPA has established a maximum legal limit in tapwater for this contaminant.
Cadmium is a metal used in the steel and plastic industries; it is released from corrosion of galvanized pipes, runoff from metal refineries, waste batteries and paints; contamination from fertilizers; and erosion of natural deposits. [read more]
Cadmium is a naturally occurring metal that is found in rocks and soil, typically in association with zinc, lead and copper ores. Most of the cadmium released into the environment is due to mining and smelting, fuel combustion, disposal of metal-containing products, and agricultural application of cadmium-containing phosphate fertilizers and sewage sludge. Cadmium is used in industry and consumer products, including batteries, pigments, metal coatings, plastics and some metal alloys.
Cadmium does not break down in the environment, but can change forms. Cadmium particles emitted from industrial sources into air can travel long distances before falling to the ground or water. Cadmium binds strongly to soil particles, often leading to long-lasting soil contamination (Lukin 2000). Fish, plants and animals take up cadmium from the environment (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) 2008a).
In addition to occupational exposures, people are exposed to cadmium via food, drinking water and inhalation of cadmium-containing particles in the air. Cadmium is also found in cigarettes and both smokers and people exposed to secondhand smoke have higher urinary levels of cadmium. For non-smokers, most cadmium exposure comes from food. Cadmium can be released into water by natural processes, discharges from industry (including landfills) and sewage treatment plants, or by leaching from pipes that supply drinking water (ATSDR 1999d, 2008a).
The National Toxicology Program classifies cadmium as a known human carcinogen because it causes lung cancer in workers. Other studies in non-workers find associations between cadmium and cancers of the prostate, renal system (kidney) and bladder (National Toxicology Program (NTP 2002a). In animal models, cadmium causes leukemia and lymphoma in addition to tumors of the lung, testes, prostate, adrenal gland and liver (NTP 2002a). The kidney is generally considered to be the most sensitive target for cadmium toxicity following exposure in food or water (ATSDR 1999d, 2008a). Increased urinary levels of cadmium have been linked with impaired glucose metabolism and diabetes in the general population (Schwartz 2003). In animal studies, cadmium causes toxicity to the pancreas, which plays an important role in regulating blood glucose (Kacew 1976, Konishi 1990, Poirier 1983, Schwartz and Reis 2000, Waalkes 1992). Other systems affected by cadmium in humans include the gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract and cardiovascular system. In laboratory animals, cadmium causes mortality at high doses, lung cancer, and toxicity to the liver, kidney, immune, skeletal, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal tract, reproductive and nervous systems. Cadmium also causes developmental toxicity (ATSDR 1999d).
The U.S. EPA's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) reported that 742,721 pounds of cadmium were released in 2002, 91 percent of which was released by the solvent recovery industry (USEPA 2009i).
Cadmium (total) Exposure by State
Water utilities in 38 states have reported detecting Cadmium (total) in treated tap water since 2004, according to EWG's analysis of water quality data supplied by state water agencies.
|State||Water Suppliers with Cadmium (total) contamination||Water suppliers reporting Cadmium (total) above health-based limits|
The Most Polluted Communities
1,247 water utilities reported detecting Cadmium (total) in tap water since 2004, according to EWG's analysis of water quality data supplied by state water agencies
Ranked by highest average Cadmium (total) level
|Rank||System||Population Served||Positive test results of total reported tests||Average Level|
|1||Vista Del Toro Ws|
|87||1 of 1||12 ppb|
|2||Las Cumbres Mutual Water Co|
Los Gatos, CA
|337||1 of 1||12 ppb|
|3||Walnut Grove Mobile Home Park|
Mount Vernon, IN
|41||1 of 1||10 ppb|
|4||Calvert Mobile Home Park|
|80||1 of 2||5.5 ppb|
(0 to 11 ppb)
|5||Orchard Crossing Subdivision|
|360||1 of 1||5.5 ppb|
|6||Aberdeen Pate Water Company, Inc.|
|4,525||1 of 1||4.8 ppb|
|7||South Dunnellon Water Assoc|
|300||1 of 1||4.1 ppb|
|8||Castleberry Water System|
|963||1 of 1||4 ppb|
|9||Chester College of NE /Douglas|
|70||1 of 1||4 ppb|
|10||Sitgreaves Water Co|
Show Low, AZ
|150||10 of 11||3.87 ppb|
(0 to 7.4 ppb)
Health Based Limits for Cadmium (total)
|California Public Health Goals||Defined by the State of California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) as the level of contaminant that is allowed in drinking water. For acutely toxic substances, levels are set at which scientific evidence indicates that no known or anticipated adverse effects on health will occur, plus an adequate margin-of safety. PHGs for carcinogens or other substances which can cause chronic disease shall be based solely on health effects without regard to cost impacts and shall be set at levels which OEHHA has determined do not pose any significant risk to health.||0.04 ppb|
|Maximum Contaminant Limit (MCL)||The enforceable standard which defines the highest level of a contaminant that is allowed in drinking water. MCLs are set as close to health-based limits (Maximum Contaminant Level Goals, or MCLGs) as feasible using the best available analytical and treatment technologies and taking cost into consideration. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.||5 ppb|
|Maximum Contaminant Limit Goal (MCLG)||A non-enforceable health goal that is set at a level at which no known or anticipated adverse effect on the health of persons occurs and which allows an adequate margin of safety. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.||5 ppb|
|Lifetime health-based limit, non-cancer risk||Concentration of a chemical in drinking water that is not expected to cause any adverse, noncarcinogenic health effects for a lifetime of exposure. The Lifetime health-based limit (or Health Advisory, HA) is based on exposure for a a 70-kg adult consuming 2 liters of water per day. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.||5 ppb|
|Drinking Water Equivalent Level||A lifetime exposure concentration protective of adverse, noncarcinogenic health effects, that assumes all of the exposure to a contaminant is from drinking water. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.||20 ppb|
|Children's health-based limit for 1-day exposure||Concentration of a chemical in drinking water that is not expected to cause any adverse, noncarcinogenic health effects for up to one day of exposure. The One-Day health-based limit (or Health Advisory, HA) is typically set to protect a 10-kg child consuming 1 liter of water per day. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.||40 ppb|
|Children's health-based limit for 10-day exposure||Concentration of a chemical in drinking water that is not expected to cause any adverse, noncarcinogenic effects for up to ten days of exposure. The Ten-Day health-based limit (or Health Advisory, HA) is typically set to protect a 10-kg child consuming 1 liter of water per day. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.||40 ppb|
Testing Summary for Cadmium (total)
|Are tests routinely required for Cadmium (total) by federal law?||Yes|
|Water suppliers reporting tests for Cadmium (total) (2004-2009):||29,294 of 47,576|
|Average testing rate for water supplier reporting tests (2004-2009):||0.3 per year|
Violation Summary for Cadmium (total)
Data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency includes the following violations of federal standards for Cadmium (total) since 2004
|Maximum Contaminant Level Exceedance Violations||1|