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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Exposure assessment of dietary cadmium: findings from shanghainese over 40 years, China

Ping He1, Yinhao Lu1, Yihuai Liang2, Bo Chen1, Min Wu1, Shuguang Li1, Gengsheng He1* and Taiyi Jin2*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Nutrition and Food Hygiene, School of Public Health, Key Laboratory of Public Health Safety. Ministry of Education, Fudan University, 138 Yi Xue Yuan Road, Shanghai 200032, China

2 Department of Occupational Health and Toxicology, School of Public Health, Key Laboratory of Public Health Safety, Ministry of Education, Fudan University, 138 Yi Xue Yuan Road, Shanghai 200032, China

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:590  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-590

Published: 18 June 2013



Environmental exposure to cadmium causes renal dysfunction and bone damage. Cadmium contamination in food is regarded as the main environmental source of non-occupational exposure. The aim of this study was to assess the contribution of dietary cadmium exposure in environmental cadmium exposure and its health risk among adults in Shanghai, China.


A cross-sectional survey about food consumption was conducted in 2008 among 207 citizens aged over 40 years in Shanghai, China. The food frequency questionnaire was combined with food, tobacco and water cadmium exposure to estimate the daily environmental cadmium exposure in both point and probabilistic estimations. Urine and blood samples of the participants were analyzed for internal exposure to total cadmium. Correlation analysis was conducted between the internal cadmium exposure and environmental cadmium exposure.


According to the point estimation, average daily environmental cadmium exposure of the participants was 16.7 μg/day and approached 33.8% of the provisional tolerable daily intake (PTDI). Dietary and tobacco cadmium exposure approached 25.8% and 7.9% of the PTDI, respectively. Males had higher levels of dietary cadmium exposure than females (p?=?0.002). The probabilistic model showed that 93.4% of the population did not have any health risks from dietary cadmium exposure. By sensitivity analysis, tobacco consumption, tobacco cadmium level, cadmium in vegetables and cadmium in rice accounted for 27.5%, 24.9%, 20.2% and 14.6% of the total cadmium exposure, respectively. The mean values of urinary and blood cadmium among the study population were 0.5 μg/L and 1.9 μg/L, respectively. Positive correlations were observed between environmental cadmium exposure and blood cadmium (R?=?0.52, P<0.01), tobacco cadmium intake and blood cadmium excluding non-smokers (R?=?0.26, P?=?0.049<0.05), and urine cadmium and age (R?=?0.15, P?=?0.037).


It has been suggested that there is no increased health risk among adult residents in Shanghai, China because of recent total cadmium exposure. Vegetables and rice were the main sources of dietary cadmium intake. Tobacco cadmium exposure, which accounted for approximately 25% of the total dietary cadmium exposure, was another important source of non-occupational cadmium exposure.

Cadmium; Non-occupational exposure; Food intake; Exposure assessment