Cadmium in human lung tissue

Research paper by H. Kollmeier, J. Seemann, P. Wittig, G. Rothe, K. -M. Müller

Indexed on: 01 Sep '90Published on: 01 Sep '90Published in: International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health


In 101 unselected autopsies, cadmium (Cd) in lung tissue was analyzed by means of flameless atomic absorption spectrometry (AAS). The subjects originated from Bochum (BO), Dortmund (DO), and neighbouring cities in the Ruhr District (BO/DO) as well as from Muenster (MS) and vicinity. The sample included eight persons who had died from bronchial carcinoma. The Cd concentration in lung tissue (CdL) did not show a significant age-dependency. There was only a slight increase of CdL in the age around 50. For males, the median CdL value was found to be 1.32 μg/g dry wt in the age group from 20–45, 1.48 μg/g dry wt from 45–65, and 0.64 μg/g dry wt > 65 (the corresponding means and standard deviations were 1.48 ± 1.22, 1.73 ± 1.42, and 1.18 ± 1.27 μg/g dry wt). CdL in men was twice that in women. There were no differences between the two regions (BO/DO : MS) examined. CdL of the bronchial carcinoma cases were mostly clearly above the expected level, often similar to the Cr and Ni concentration of the same specimens. Besides the amount of inhaled metal aerosols, insufficient lung clearance may play a leading role for their retention in lung parenchyma. However, with regard to the determination of causality between uptake and disease the data are difficult to interpret, in our study due to a lack of enough consistent and reliable data on occupation, environment, and smoking habits, and in general due to a lot of variables which, until now, cannot be sufficiently quantified.