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CADMIUM

1) Why is this pollutant bad / a problem? (or is it?)

Because its high toxicity and carcinogenicity, and the associated health and
environmental concerns.

Health effects: cadmium will enter the body if we breathe in contaminated air, eat
contaminated foods, or drink contaminated water. It provokes:
Kidney cancer
Lung damage
Bones damage
Death

Enviromental effects: plants take up cadmium from the soil, fish and shellfish take
up cadmium from the water, etc. Problems:
It is highly persistent in the environment; bioaccumulation in organisms and
ecosystems.
Toxicity to aquatic life, and to some animals and plants in general

2) What are the sources of the pollutant and how is it introduced into
the environment?

Industry sources

Cadmium is obtained as a by-product from the treatment of zinc, copper,


lead, and iron ores, therefore facilities that treat these ores may emit
cadmium compounds to the environment (mainly water). Coal and oil burning
power plants may emit cadmium compounds to air. One use of cadmium is as
coating of steel and copper alloys to prevent corrosion.

Natural sources

Cadmium is a naturally occurring element in the crust of the earth. Coal and
other fossil fuels contain cadmium and their combustion releases the element
into the atmosphere. Cadmium is found naturally in various ores: lead and
copper containing zinc, some iron ores, and in sulfide ore. These can result in
emissions to water. For instance, mining operations can release cadmium to
the water.

Transport sources

The combustion of motor fuels (petrol) in cars, trucks, and planes result in
emissions to air, and particles from tire wear may result in emissions to air,
land and water.
Consumer products that may contain cadmium and compounds

Cadmium is found in many domestic products, e.g. tobacco products,


phosphate fertilizers, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) products, petrol, batteries, etc.

3) How (e.g., in solution, in suspension, other) and via what flow paths
(e.g., surface runoff, groundwater, other) does the pollutant get
transported to the stream?

In water some of the compounds will be quite soluble (cadmium chloride) and
others will be insoluble (cadmium oxide).
Its also typical find cadmium as colloidal cadmium.
Cadmium acts like other particles when in the atmosphere and will be subject to
deposition caused by rain or wind.
Some cadmium compounds are able to leach through soils into ground water.
Cadmium compounds sometimes bind to the sediments in water (rivers, lakes, bore
water).

4) What properties of the pollutant can be used to control it? Can it be


vaporized, sorbed to soil, taken-up by plants/microbes, or somehow
trapped in the landscape?

Unlike organic pollutants, heavy metals do not decay and thus pose a different kind
of challenge for remediation
The method for controlling cadmium pollutants so far is to reduce the use and
production of cadmium compounds.
Vaporization is not a solution, since it releases very toxic fume into the air.
Currently, plants or microorganisms are tentatively used to remove cadmium. Plants
which exhibit hyper accumulation can be used to remove heavy metals from soils
by concentrating them in their bio matter.
Phyto-remediation of cadmium from soils can be accomplished by the use of such
hyperaccumulator plants as Alpine pennycress. Similar aquatic plants have been
shown effective in removal of other heavy metals from water.

5) Suggest a strategy for controlling the pollutant you may propose a


recognized BMP, an alteration of how the landscape is
used/managed/developed or something new.

We could incorporate detention basins to the stream, including biofilters, to reduce


the concentration of cadmium in the water.

6) Do you foresee any difficulties / problems with your proposed


solution?
Very expensive. Difficult to control every single stream. Feasibility.

We should go to the source, not to the final drain.