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Cadmium occurs naturally in the environment, but its presence in the environment is mostly the result of human activities, particularly metal production, fuel burning, transportation, solid waste disposal, and sewage sludge application. Canadians are mostly exposed via food, but also drinking water, air, consumer product releases, occupational exposures, and smoking. Cadmium from body and hair creams can also be absorbed into the human body through dermal contact. This heavy metal is known to cause lung and prostate cancer, and is toxic to the gastrointestinal tract, the kidneys, and the respiratory, cardiovascular and hormonal systems.
Cadmium and cadmium compounds are considered to be “carcinogenic to humans” by the IARC and are considered “toxic” in Canada because of their carcinogenicity and environmental effects. It and its compounds are also classified as known human carcinogens by the United States Department of Health and Human Services.