International Cadmium Association

Working towards a sustainable future.


The International Cadmium Association (ICdA) is supporting the cadmium industry on the Environmental, Health and Sustainability fronts with programs aiming at assessing and reducing cadmium exposure of workers and risks to the environment. Uses of cadmium and its compounds are very strictly regulated, managed and controlled. Providing correct information and demonstrating adequate Risk Management Measures are effectively implemented, is of utmost importance to justify the activities of the cadmium industry and the continued uses of cadmium and its compounds in essential and well-defined applications. Several of these applications are critical for the success of the clean energy and digital transition or have no substitute.

ICdA is pro-active in collecting from industry and providing to regulators information on health and environmental effects related to the intended processing and use of cadmium. The ICdA and its members exchange best practices towards protection of the environment and workers health and safety. Members of ICdA are actively participating in workplace air monitoring and bio-monitoring programs which demonstrate regular progress in worker protection.


Cadmium is a naturally occurring element with an average concentration of 0.3mg/kg in EU topsoil. The natural source of airborne cadmium is mainly from volcanic emissions and is estimated at 14.7 t/a in the EU. After a more than 10-fold reduction over the past decades, the atmospheric emissions from anthropogenic sources in the EU are today of the same magnitude as emissions from natural sources. Due to relatively high cadmium concentrations in tobacco, smoking behaviour has become the single largest source of cadmium exposure for both the general population and most of the occupational exposed workers.



Cadmium is a relatively rare element and is not found as pure metal in nature. It occurs mainly in association with sulphide ores of zinc, lead and copper. Cadmium has only been produced commercially in the twentieth century as a by-product of the zinc refining industry. Annual production and consumption has been rather flat over the past 20 years at approximately 25,000 tonnes. To minimize risk of exposure to cadmium, its applications have gradually been restricted to a limited number of professional and industrial uses, where appropriate measures are in place to minimize exposure. In these applications, cadmium provides unique physico-chemical properties linked to its atomic structure (both nucleus and electronic) which other elements do not display. While this shift has been completed in the EU and most of the Western World, it is still in progress elsewhere.


(*) Pigments manufacturing is located in the UK


(*) application not authorised in the EU

NiCd batteries


When it comes to use life, reliability, sturdiness and operational temperature range, industrial NiCd batteries outperform the standard battery technology. NiCd batteries are the preferred choice of equipment manufacturers and operators to supply critical back-up power functionalities which ensure the safety of passengers in case of main power failure in underground metros systems, high-speed trains and commercial aircrafts.

In industry, NiCd batteries supply back-up power to mission-critical industrial assets. These include nuclear power plants, steel mills, off-shore platforms, refineries, emergency lighting and alarm systems in hospitals, as well as navigation assets such as lighthouses and buoys.


Owing to their unique combination of benefits, yellow, orange and red cadmium pigments are used in a range of demanding, high performance applications and market segments where no colourants exist that can match their properties and value. The high temperature resistance of cadmium pigments enables them to be used in applications such as thermoplastic, thermosetting powder coatings, enamels and glazes, while their excellent light and weather fastness makes them a preferred choice for artist paints and road markings.



The unequalled properties of cadmium coatings provide the ultimate performance for those applications that require high safety standards in the aeronautical, aerospace, mining, offshore and nuclear sectors where cadmium coatings are applied to bolts, fasteners, connectors, landing gear and electrical connectors.


Copper-cadmium alloys containing 0.8-1.2% cadmium exhibit almost double the mechanical strength and wear resistance of pure copper, while retaining 90% of its conductivity. That is why they are found in applications like railway overhead electrification.

Infrared Detection

Cadmium is a key and irreplaceable ingredient in infrared detection technology for terrestrial and space applications including gas leak detection, medical imaging, meteorological observations and global warming studies, environmental and agricultural monitoring and surveillance, pharmaceutical formulation development, art restoration and plastics recycling.


Over 30 GW of CdTe Thin-film PV modules have been safely deployed throughout the world over the past two decades. They are the most energy- and eco-efficient solar panels currently available. Current thin-film PV module recycling processes recover more than 90% of a CdTe PV module at the end of its useful life for reuse in new solar, glass and rubber products.
About Cadmium

Cadmium recycling

To ensure that cadmium is recovered at the end of live stage of the product in which it is used, some of the specific applications of cadmium have developed a dedicated collection and recycling.


April 27, 2023

ICdA & IZA/REACH Cadmium Consortium publish on the effectiveness of the implementation of a combination of air- and biomonitoring at the workplace.

"Cadmium monitoring at the workplace: effectiveness of a combination of air-and biomonitoring” Lombaert N, Gilles M and Verougstraete V (2023) Toxics 11(4), 354; download link:
September 26, 2022

ICdA position on setting an occupational exposure limit value in air (OEL) together with a biologic limit value (BLV) for cadmium in urine.

June 1, 2022

ICdA position on the inclusion of cadmium biomonitoring at the workplace, and on the RAC recommendation for an OEL and BLV.

In its RAC recommendations for OEL and BLV values, RAC did not respond to the Commission request. Indeed, in its latest opinion, the RAC recommended the setting of a BLV without reassessing the OEL originally set at 0.001 mg/m3 (inhalable fraction), a value which was derived precisely under the assumption that no biomonitoring was conducted at the workplace and no BLV was set.


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