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Environmental Effects of Cadmium

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Introduction
Cadmium (Cd) toxicity is one of the most harmful heavy metal contaminations which could severely affect the environment in a number of ways and in turn affect the living population within that environment. This however can be due to a variety of issues such as environmental disruption or human activity. Cadmium is classed as a Class D heavy metal, meaning, “It does not have a known biological function and can be toxic even when in low amounts”. This very toxic water-soluble heavy metal is a by-product during mining, extraction or removing impurities from ores with Copper, Lead and Zinc.
One of the well-known disasters in history is Thailand’s cadmium contamination due to zinc mining by humans. It has been a topic talked about due to its significant impact on the land it has affected and its influence on human health. There have been a number of treatment/removal plans introduced for Cadmium contamination such as Phytoremediation (using plants to remove heavy metal contamination from soil). “However, effective treatment depends on using an appropriate cadmium hyperaccumulator plant that is suitable for growth within the local environmental condition” (Phaenark et al., 2009).

Environmental Effects of Cadmium
The Mae Sot District in the Tak Province situated in North-western part of Thailand is famous for their rice-based crop cultivations. Unfortunately, due to its neighboring zinc mines, the soils within these areas have resulted with Cd contamination affecting the rice grains and other food products grown in the area. The crops planted within these soils can potentially result with Cd accumulation and eventually killing the plant due to Cd poisoning. According to the food safety standards in Thailand, “an appropr...

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...a. Diseases like chronic renal failure, tubular dysfunction and lung diseases can be very fatal but unfortunately are one of the few consequences of exposure to Cd. The zinc mines not only contaminated the cultivation but also the waters downstream from these mines. The Marine life therefore as a result accumulates elements of this very toxic heavy metal poisoning the rest of the food chain. Measures to control Cd contamination can be taken in order to reduce exposure to Cd but however, only up to a certain limit as most approaches towards clean up can be quite expensive. Banning of fishing by the government within these waters was one of the first approaches taken in order to reduce exposure. Other measure for example, Phytoremediation can be a solution, however, a very expensive solution. A number of plant species have been discovered to be Cd hyperaccumulators.
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