Researchers have called on the government to crack down on the widespread release in China of a chemical listed by the US as one of the most poisonous substances in the world.
The researchers called for large-scale filtration and preventative measures after it found cadmium pollution - released through industrial sewage and waste battery storage - had severe detrimental effects on people.
The award-winning study by Fudan University's School of Public Health found once the heavy metal was absorbed into the body, its harmful effects could last for up to 30 years. Cadmium has been listed as the seventh most poisonous chemical by the toxic substances and disease registry administration of the US.
China discharges about 680 tons of cadmium into the environment, with other industrial waste, which seriously harms people's health, Fudan officials said.
The discovery was awarded second prize by the Chinese Preventive Medicine Association, Fudan officials said.
The study, carried out over a decade, came to the conclusion that people who absorbed cadmium lost their ability to generate metallothionein, a bodily protein.
That made them more vulnerable to diseases affecting kidney, bones, fertility system and immune system, researchers said after they examined about 1,000 people who were exposed to cadmium due to occupational or environmental reasons.
"We suggest the government make use of molecular biological measures to detect the vulnerable group and take actions to prevent possible harm of cadmium pollution harm as soon as possible," said Jin Taiyi, the research team leader.
Cadmium is widely used in modern industries such as metallurgy, plating and cell battery manufacturing.
(Shanghai Daily January 3, 2008)