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New Online Tool from OSHA Helps Workers Exposed to Cadmium

Today the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released a new interactive tool that is aimed at helping to protect workers who are exposed to cadmium.

A press release from OSHA describes cadmium as a soft, silver-white metal used in many industries, including metal machining, plastics, ceramics, painting, and welding operations. Workers can also be exposed to cadmium through smelting and refining of metals, as well as air in industrial plants that manufacture batteries, coatings, or plastics.

According to the Agency for Toxic Susbstances and Disease Registry, about 300,000 workers in the U.S. are exposed to cadmium each year. Short-term exposure includes weakness, fever, headache, chills, sweating, and muscular pain. Long-term exposure can lead to cadmium poisoning which can cause kidney damage and cancer of the lung or prostate. It is also thought that cadmium can cause pulmonary emphysema and bone disease.

OSHA’s Cadmium Biological Monitoring Advisor is meant primarily for use by medical professionals who assess workers’ cadmium exposure. But it may also be useful as an educational tool for workers and the general public to provide information on what constitutes overexposure to cadmium and how to prevent exposure on the job.

The Cadmium Biological Monitoring Advisor is one of a series of elaws (Employment Laws Assistance for Workers and Small Businesses) developed by the Department of Labor to help employers and employees understand federal employment laws. The tools can be found at www.dol.gov/elaws.