Determinants of serum cadmium levels in a Northern Italy community: A cross-sectional study

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Cadmium (Cd) is a heavy metal and a serious environmental hazard to humans. Some uncertainties still exist about major sources of Cd exposure in non-occupationally exposed subjects in addition to cigarette smoking, such as diet and outdoor air pollution. We sought to determine the influence of these sources on a biomarker of exposure, serum Cd concentration.


We recruited 51 randomly selected residents from an Italian urban community, from whom we obtained detailed information about dietary habits and smoking habits, and a blood sample for serum Cd determination. We also assessed outdoor air Cd exposure, by modeling outdoor air levels of particulate matter ≤10 μm (PM10) from motorized traffic at geocoded subjects’ residence.


In crude analysis, regression beta coefficients for dietary Cd, smoking and PM10 on serum Cd levels were 0.03 (95% CI -0.83 to 0.88), 6.96 (95% CI -0.02 to 13.95) and 0.62 (95% CI -0.19 to 1.43), respectively. In the adjusted analysis, regression beta coefficients were -0.34 (95% CI -1-40 to 0.71), 5.81 (95% CI -1.43 to 13.04) and 0.47 (95% CI -0.35 to 1.29), respectively.


Cigarette smoking was the most important factor influencing serum Cd in our non-occupationally exposed population, as expected, while dietary Cd was not associated with this biomarker. Outdoor air pollution, as assessed through exposure to particulate matter generated by motorized traffic, was an additional source of Cd exposure.

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