Cadmium Pollution and Anthropology

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CADMIUM POLLUTION AND ANTHROPOLOGY by Courtney Van Gemert Cadmium toxixicity is of great concern to the world anthropologically. Cadmium is an element existing naturally in minute concentrations across terrestrial and marine environments, but greater excess levels observed are almost entirely anthropogenically introduced. Though cadmium has favorable chemical and physical properties conducive to wide use in special alloys, stabilizers, in rechargeable nickel-cadmium batteries, and as a control rod material in nuclear reactors, it is a toxic heavy metal of increasing environmental concern due to its wide variety of adverse effects [1]. Cadmium is harmful to various organs, from kidneys to the central nervous system in vertebrates, including humans. In fish, neurological functions, intermediary metabolism, antioxidant activity, epithelial transport, and other physiological and biochemical systems are damaged by cadmium [2].All of these harmful bioinorganic effects are largely due to occupational or environmental exposure to in-excess levels of cadmium through inhalation or ingestion of fine air particulates and consumption of cadmium-exposed plants, animals, or water. Cadmium is harmfully introduced into the environment as carcinogens through processes of fossil fuel combustion and waste incineration, and as in-excess terrestrial deposition through metal mining processes, phosphate fertilizer and pesticides containing cadmium usage in agriculture, and improper chemical waste (such as old batteries) and sewage sludge disposal. Even seemingly small introductions of cadmium to the environment can cause contamination at a large scale, particularly when a contamination process is repetitive [2]. Pollution from surface runoffs and subsurface flow can leach into river systems and ground water, affecting surrounding ecology, crops and livestock. Drinking any affected
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