A Regional Perspective of Medical Geology – Cadmium in Jamaica

  • Paul R. D. WrightEmail author
  • Robin Rattray
  • Gerald Lalor
Part of the International Year of Planet Earth book series (IYPE)


High levels of geogenic cadmium (Cd) have been found in some soils of Jamaica, particularly in the central part of the island. The potential health impact on residents who consumed foods grown on these soils was determined. The foods which have shown the greatest affinity for Cd uptake are mainly green leafy vegetables, tubers and root vegetables. Diet studies showed that some residents are at risk of ingesting Cd in excess of the 7 μg/kg body weight PTWI established by the WHO. Cd exposure and proximal tubular dysfunction were measured as urine Cd (U-Cd) and β2-microglobulin (β2-MG) in urine, respectively. Mean U-Cd and β2-MG concentrations of 4.6 μg Cd/g_cr and 290 μg/g_cr confirm that the population is being exposed to elevated Cd levels and there is evidence of very mild tubular proteinuria. The proteinuria detected in the population was related to Cd exposure, evidenced by the relationship between U-Cd and β2-MG. While positive results were obtained for the identification of Cd-related renal biomarkers in the study population and there was a clear association between U-Cd and β2-MG, the absolute concentrations obtained were well below critical limits for the onset of acute or chronic renal effects. Women typically ingested less Cd than men but absorbed greater amounts than males in the same cohort groups.


Jamaica Cadmium Diet Uptake Proteinuria Biomarkers 



Thanks are due to the entire staff of ICENS who contributed in many ways to this work. Kameaka Duncan and Richard Hanson, who coordinated the field component of the urine sampling programme. Richard also contributed significantly to the analyses, the results of which are also being used in the pursuit of his masters of sciences degree. The International Development Research Centre (IDRC) who provided the major funding for this project. We would also acknowledge the following agencies and persons:

Dr. Pauline Samuda, Dr. Beverley Lawrence and Pauline Johnson, Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute;

Dr. Peta-Anne Baker and Horace Levy, Social Work Unit;

Dr. Leslie Simpson, Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute;

Dr. Nadia Williams, Department of Pathology, University Hospital of the West Indies;

Dr. Blossom Anglin-Brown, Director, University Health Centre;

Professor Everard Barton, Head and Consultant Nephrologist, Department of Medicine (UWI);

Dr. Robert G. Garrett, Geological Survey of Canada;

Dr. Edna Massae Yokoo, Federal University of Mato Grosso, Brazil;

The Environmental Foundation of Jamaica;

The Government of Jamaica;

The Organisation of American States;

The University of the West Indies, Mona.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul R. D. Wright
    • 1
    Email author
  • Robin Rattray
    • 2
  • Gerald Lalor
    • 2
  1. 1.International Centre for Environmental and Nuclear Sciences, UWIMonaJamaica
  2. 2.International Centre for Environmental and Nuclear Sciences, UWIMonaJamaica

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