Cadmium in Water – What is it & How to Protect Yourself

Cadmium in Water – What is it & How to Protect Yourself

Long term exposure to trace amounts of cadmium in drinking water can harm your health. In this article, you’ll learn what cadmium is, what makes it a threatening contaminant for human consumption in drinking water, and what you can do to remove cadmium from your drinking water. 

The Facts About Cadmium

Cadmium is a transition metal that is typically silver and white-colored. It’s a solid metal at room temperature and is present in alloys, semiconductors, electroplating, television components and other electronics, paints, plastic stabilizers, and solar cells. It is also commonly used in nuclear reactors

because cadmium has the ability to absorb neutrons, which is a useful stabilizer during nuclear fission reactions.

When dissolved in water, microscopic cadmium particles have no smell or taste. For this reason, the presence of cadmium in water can go undetected without further analysis. 

Where is cadmium found?

Traces of this soft chemical element are found in the earth’s crust, soil, and most rocks. Since cadmium occurs naturally as an impurity in phosphate rock, it shows up in many commercial fertilizers that use phosphate rock. 

According to a report from the European Union, cadmium is the source of more than half of the heavy metal found in commercial soils. It’s also found in tobacco smoke and used commonly in industrial facilities and factories. 

How does cadmium get into water?

Like many other metals, cadmium seeps into groundwater through fertilizers, industrial runoff and landfill runoff. When people dispose of products that contain cadmium, the chemical leaks into the environment and then the water table absorbs it. 

Luckily, there have been no records of inordinately high levels of cadmium in municipal water supplies in over a decade. That does not mean the chemical is not a threat, however. Exposure to even low levels of cadmium over time can build up in the human body, particularly in the kidneys. 

How do you remove cadmium from drinking water?

The best water filters use a blend of media, including activated carbon and ion exchange to remove many contaminants, including cadmium. The result is cleaner, purer water that’s also better tasting.

Aquagear’s filter is BPA-free and third-party tested to filter out 20 times more contaminants than leading competitors. These contaminants include lead, chlorine, microplastics, PFOA/PFOS, and more. Reverse osmosis filtration systems can remove a large percentage of trace cadmium from drinking water (up to 98%) but can be expensive and require plumber installation. 

How does cadmium affect the body?

According to one study published by the National Institute of Health, “long-term exposure to cadmium through air, water, soil, and food leads to cancer and organ system toxicity such as skeletal, urinary, reproductive, cardiovascular, center and peripheral nervous, and respiratory systems.” Let’s dig into what cadmium poisoning is all about. 

Cadmium Poisoning and Treatment

In the short term, victims of acute cadmium poisoning may experience body aches, chills, vomiting, and diarrhea. There are drugs that sufferers can take to limit these symptoms. This process is chelation, and causes a reaction whereby chemicals attach to the contaminant metals in the bloodstream. The body then expels cadmium molecules via urination.

Long-term exposure to cadmium in drinking water at very high levels can lead to kidney disease, bone deterioration, and even death. Luckily, the human body naturally takes measures to decrease the level of cadmium after  ingestion.  The body also expels cadmium via urine. Zinc has also been proven to lower cadmium levels in the bodies of U.S. adults. 

How do you test for cadmium in drinking water?

There are cadmium home test kits available online, but not all of them are reliable. A third party, ISO 17025 accredited lab can test drinking water for the presence of even trace amounts of cadmium. If you use a filter that has been independently tested for cadmium removal, regular water quality testing is not necessary.

If you are concerned about your cadmium exposure, a clinical professional can test for your urine. After using test strips in a solution of the liquid you want to test, you will most likely need to mail the samples off to a lab and wait for results. Testing water for cadmium is especially important for homeowners who get their water from a well, since municipal authorities do not regulate this water. 

Standards for Cadmium in Water

National organizations like the EPA and OSHA set limits for the amount of cadmium that is safe in public drinking water, topsoil, and so forth. Let’s take a look at what standards different organizations set for cadmium in the environment.

What is a safe level of cadmium in drinking water?

According to the EPA, a safe level of cadmium in drinking water is 5 ppb. The Environmental Working Group, another respected authority on contaminants, has a public health drinking water standard of 0.04 ppb for cadmium. Exposure to cadmium at very small levels is inevitable, as this chemical is all around us in soil and air. But if cadmium is present at too high of a level, it can bring down water quality precipitously. 

The Best Water Filter for Cadmium

The Aquagear filter has been third-party tested to effectively remove many contaminants from water, including:

  • Cadmium
  • Chlorine
  • Copper
  • Asbestos
  • Lead
  • Benzene

Aquagear is third-party tested to remove 96% of cadmium by using a proprietary blend of activated carbon and ion exchange media.

Aquagear filters provide you with peace of mind for you and your family. They’re even guaranteed for life. Sign up for Aquagear’s replacement filter subscription to save money and ensure your pitcher provides the freshest, contaminant-free water at all times. Get Aquagear and feel good about what you’re drinking. 


Does boiling water remove cadmium?

Boiling water never removes cadmium. This is true for other heavy metals as well, like lead, mercury, chromium, and arsenic.

Bringing water to a boil is a great way to eliminate germs and microorganisms, but it does nothing to remove heavy metals and other chemicals. In fact, it makes contamination levels worse, as water boils off and the cadmium-contaminated solution becomes more concentrated. 

The best way to remove cadmium from water is with a quality water filter. 

Is cadmium in bottled water?

Researchers have detected a very small amount of cadmium in some bottled water samples. 

According to one study, the results ranged from non-detected (ND) to .0180 mg/L and ND-0.0013 mg/L respectively. This was slightly less than concentrations of the chemical element in tap water. 

Is cadmium safe to drink?

Cadmium is not safe to drink, particularly at trace levels higher than the EPA-recommended 5 ppb. 

Even at low levels of exposure over a long period of time, people can experience decreased bone density or problems with bone composition.  

What are the symptoms caused by too much cadmium?

Excess levels of cadmium in drinking water can lead to flu-like symptoms and other health-related problems. Acute cadmium poisoning can bring about feelings of nausea and vomiting and stomach cramps.