Cadmium has captured the headlines quite a bit recently. In a recent Spend Matters examination of this toxic metal that is making its way into Chinese-made products we note that the US government has been “taking a proactive stance to keep dangerous products off American shelves, as well as a reactive and punitive stance towards the importers.” But what is cadmium and why do Chinese manufacturers use it in the first place?
For one, cadmium is an inexpensive byproduct of the mining of another metal: zinc. Lisa Reisman, Co-Editor of the Spend Matters sister-site MetalMiner suggests, “cadmium is mined with zinc. It is produced in Zinc ore. As zinc is produced, cadmium is mined with it. It is a byproduct that is abundant. Cadmium’s main property is that it is a good plating metal (e.g., for steel plate) but it also poses health risks. In the EU, cadmium is actually a RoHS restricted substance and its use is banned for products that fall under these guidelines (like lead). It is both toxic and carcinogenic.”