Understanding the Poisonous Qualities of Cadmium

Although cadmium is not a precious metal, there is money to be made recycling cadmium silver contacts.  (See “Recycling Silver Cadmium Contacts Can Give You a Big Payday,” a post we published on this blog in 2016.) 

But have you heard that cadmium is poisonous? In fact, it is. If it gets into your bloodstream, it will damage your brain, kidneys and other organs. But does that mean that you are going to harm yourself if you handle silver cadmium contacts? The good news is that no, you won’t. When you handle items made of cadmium metal or an alloy of cadmium and silver, the cadmium won’t be absorbed through your skin or enter your bloodstream.

So, how do people get poisoned by contact with cadmium? To quote information from the National Cancer Institute, “Exposure to cadmium occurs mostly in workplaces where cadmium products are made. The major routes of occupational exposure are inhalation of dust and fumes and incidental ingestion of dust from contaminated hands, cigarettes, or food.”

So, where can you be exposed to cadmium?

  • From nickel-cadmium (NiCd) batteries. Don’t burn them, hit them with a hammer, grind them up, or do anything else that will expose you to the chemicals they contain.

  • From smoking. Cigarette smoke contains small quantities of cadmium. Probably not enough to poison you, but since cigarette smoke also contains tar and other unhealthy substances, why smoke?

  • From exposure to certain paints. Cadmium is used as a pigment in yellow and gold-color paints. Although it is difficult to poison yourself by being exposed to them, long-term exposure to spray paints that contain cadmium is probably not a good idea.

  • From eating plants that have been exposed to cadmium. The chances of this happening are slim. How many people eat plants that were grown inside a factory that makes nickel-cadmium batteries? But now that batteries are being more widely used, it could be something to think about in the future.

Have Cadmium Silver Scrap to Recycle? Call Us Today

We recycle cadmium silver scrap safely in our state-of-the-art facilities. If you have contacts and want to know what they are worth, give us a call at 800-426-2344.

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