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Environ Res. 1988 Jun;46(1):1-14.

Unusually high intake and fecal output of cadmium, and fecal output of other trace elements in New Zealand adults consuming dredge oysters.

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Department of Nutrition, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.


The concentration of cadmium in the New Zealand dredge oyster Tiostrea lutaria (commonly known as a Bluff oyster) is sufficiently high so that the ingestion of just one oyster can more than double a normal daily dietary intake of cadmium for a New Zealand adult. A survey of 75 adults (18-76 years old) associated with the oyster fishing industry in Bluff, Southland, New Zealand, was carried out before and at the end of the oyster season. Preseason intakes (from dietary history questionnaires and from 3-day fecal collections) of cadmium, selenium, zinc, copper, and manganese were normal for a New Zealand adult not consuming Bluff oysters. The subjects were classified according to their reported average oyster consumption during the 6 months of the oyster fishing season; the subjects who consumed more oysters were more likely to smoke cigarettes. The end-season fecal output of cadmium confirmed the reported average oyster intakes: Category I (0-5 oysters/week): 15 +/- 8 (mean +/- SD) micrograms Cd/day; Category II (6-23 oysters/week): 84 +/- 134 micrograms Cd/day; Category III (24-71 oysters/week): 129 +/- 144 micrograms Cd/day; Category IV (72+ oysters/week): 233 +/- 185 micrograms Cd/day. The fecal output of selenium as well was increased by the consumption of many oysters but the fecal outputs of zinc, copper, and manganese were not. Using fecal cadmium excretion to predict dietary cadmium intake, 8-15% of the subjects in this study were identified as having an intake of cadmium which has been associated with an increased prevalence of tubular proteinuria. The highest individual daily fecal excretion of cadmium at the end of the season was 580 micrograms Cd/day, i.e., a daily excretion equivalent to more than 10 times above the weekly intake provisionally considered tolerable (400-500 micrograms Cd/week; WHO, 1972). Continued investigations on this population group will determine whether there are any health consequences of these extremely high cadmium intakes.

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