US Dept Health Human Sciences Public Health Science
Research Triangle Park
[en] Environmental exposure ; cadmium
[en] Cadmium is a cumulative environmental pollutant. For the general population mainly exposed by the oral route and through tobacco smoke inhalation, the kidney is the critical organ. Belgium is the principal producer of cadmium in Europe, and certain areas of the country are polluted by cadmium mainly because of past emissions from nonferrous industries. Preliminary studies carried out in one polluted area have suggested that environmental pollution might lead to an increased uptake of cadmium by the human body and possibly to health effects. Thus, a large-scale morbidity study has been initiated to assess the validity of this hypothesis. The present paper describes the protocol of this study. Its main objectives are to determine to what extent environmental exposure to cadmium resulting from industrial emissions may lead to accumulation of the metal in the human organism; to establish whether or not environmental exposure may induce renal changes and/or influence blood pressure; and to assess the acceptable internal dose of cadmium for the genral population. The study design takes advantage of the fact that biological indicators of exposure, body burden, and early nephrotoxic effects of cadmium ar available, which increase the likelihood of detecting a cause-effect relationship.