Blood cadmium levels and sources of exposure in an adult urban population in southern Brazil

Airton C. Martins, Mariana R. Urbano, Ana Carolina B. Almeida Lopes, Maria de Fatima H. Carvalho, Marcia L. Buzzo, Anca O. Docea, Arthur E. Mesas, Michael Aschner, Ana Maria R. Silva, Ellen K. Silbergeld, Monica M.B. Paoliello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Background: Cadmium (Cd) is a toxic metal that is widely present in the environment due to geologic and anthropogenic sources. Exposures to high Cd levels may cause nephrotoxicity, carcinogenicity, pulmonary and cardiovascular disease, among others. The goal of this study was to investigate in an adult urban population whether an association exists between sources and levels of Cd exposure and blood Cd concentrations. Methods: Using a census-based design, a total of 959 adults, aged 40 years or older, were randomly selected. Information on socio-demographics, dietary, and lifestyle background was obtained by household interviews. Blood Cd levels were measured by inductively coupled-plasma mass spectrometry. Geometric means (GM) (95% CI) and the 50th percentile were determined, stratified by sex, age, race, education, income class, smoking status, consumption of vegetables, red meat and milk, occupation and blood pressure. To assess the association between Cd exposure and the aforementioned variables, we estimated the geometric mean ratio (GMR) (95%CI) of blood Cd concentrations. Results and conclusion: The geometric mean (95%CI) of blood Cd levels in the total population was 0.25 (0.22, 0.27) ug/dL. In a univariate analysis, significantly higher blood Cd levels were found in men (p < 0.001), current and former smokers (p < 0.001), alcohol drinkers (p < 0.001), those who never or almost never consumed milk (p < 0.001), and in subjects with higher diastolic blood pressure (p = 0.03). Significant correlations were found between the number of cigarettes consumed daily and blood Cd levels. Multivariate analysis confirmed higher blood Cd concentrations were associated with alcohol consumption (GMR 95%CI = 1.28, 1.04–1.59) and in former and current smokers (GMR 95% IC = 1.33, 1.06–1.67 and 4.23, 3.24–5.52, respectively). Our results shed novel information on variables associated with blood Cd levels in an urban Brazilian population, and should encourage additional research to prevent environmental Cd exposure, both in Brazil and globally.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109618
JournalEnvironmental Research
StatePublished - Aug 2020


  • Adults
  • Blood cadmium
  • General population

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • General Environmental Science


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