I’ve been struggling for the past couple years with an illness
that’s recently been diagnosed as MS. I recently had a hair analysis
that indicated my Cadmium levels to be quite high. I looked into my
solders and they’re all “Cad Free”. I don’t smoke, and a hair
analysis I did about 1 1/2 years ago from a different lab didn’t
indicate that my Cadmium was high.
So I’m fairly confused. Is there another place I could have gotten
the Cadmium in the jewelry industry? I don’t do any plating although
I did plate something once before the first analysis.
Anyways, my uncle, who paid for this recent hair analysis is asking
me if the makers of the solder are being honest when they say “Cad
Free”. I purchased the low melting point “Cad Free” solder from
Stuller, and my hard solder came from Rio Grande. I know these are
just jewelry supply companies but I highly doubt that they’re
carrying solder with a false claim. Actually, the previously
mentioned companies very well may alloy the solder themselves since
they fabricate metals. In my opinion, I highly doubt there is any
dishonesty in labeling going on due to the extremely high legal risk
of labeling something “Cad Free” when it’s really not.
Andy, first of all, I am so sorry that you have been diagnosed with
MS, and I do hope that yours is a mild case that can be treated.
I don’t know about cadmium free solder actually being cadmium free.
I would imagine that anyone as reputable as Reo and Stuller would not
However, regarding cadmium and other harmful metals and elements, I
recently attended a lecture on the environment and the speaker spoke
about the concern about these elements getting into the soil, as well
as our water supply, and from there into the food chain, so that we
are all subject to these harmful effects. The speaker mentioned
specifically the increase of various neurological diseases
particularly among the young, such as Parkinsons, MS, and Lou
Gehrig’s disease. There is growing concern that use of pesticides,
and herbicides, are contributing factors, and of course dumping
hazardous waste on the ground…
Of course this does not answer your specific questions, about
solder, and I bring it up only to point out that you could have been
exposed to cadmium from sources other than your solder.
I’m sorry to hear about your ailment, and I wish you the very best
in treatment /recovery. I can only speak directly for one company
that makes a lot of solder.
Never in the history of the company Precious Metals West was cadmium
ever even acquired. No one would ever deliberately mis mark solder
product. The odd accident could happen at a place that makes both.
Way back it was decided to go with indium, tin or perhaps other
metals. I am wondering if you were exposed via jewelry made by
someone else, or repaired somewhere else. Then you did your work and
got exposed. Maybe. Did your test look for other typical jewelry
alloy metals? Copper, zinc, nickel,… Maybe its not the jewelry work
at all. I have no medical/biology expertise but my hunch is these
would be elevated too. There is a web page cadmium.org that lists
natural and man made sources. (http://www.cadmium.org/env_emi.html)
I think you will be surprised at the variety of cadmium exposure
sources including as pigments.
As a more general comment- In any case get a good ventilation system.
They are available in very small versions that pull air from a
specific place on the bench. We make our guys wear respirator masks
for /all smelting/alloying /at the refinery, and we never have lead
or cadmium or any of those particularly hazardous metals in
production. I happen to be the guy in charge of compliance at Fine
Gold, our refining facility. I am a believer in keeping exposures to
all metal fumes down to trace amounts. We strive for zero second hand
You would have to look at your total environment. I and many of my
mechanics worked exclusively with cadmium baring solders industrially
before the mid 70’s. I have about 400 oz left I haven’t seemed to
develop any heavy metal toxicity,or any other one after exposure to
most every industry or years.
I have not been aware of anyone of my old mechanics being effected .
If you have any operation in your area that reprocesses steel scrap
or does any cad plating I would suspect that first.
Where do you live? If it is really in your hair now the exposure
should be reasonably current and probably ?? continuing.
I did some quick searches – cadmium-heavy metal toxicity does not
appear to be involved in ms but??
I’m so sorry about your diagnosis. I hope some of the new research on
MS will be helpful to you.
I heard a conversation a few months ago in an art supply store about
purchasing oil paints vs acrilic paints for studio art classes. I
didn’t pay much attention but I remember the sales person said for
one of the colors, artists are using acrylic rather than oil because
the oil contains cadmium. Have you been involved in oil painting?
Sorry I don’t remember any other details.
Greetings, I read Andros post regarding his illness with hair
analysis and how they indicated his high levels of cadmium. I passed
this on to my husband, a doctor. He indicated to me that hair
analysis is general very accurate. He posed a question to me. “Where
was the solder manufactured?” Our first thoughts he and I both had
were China. They do not have the same regulations that we do here in
I would suggest taking the solder and test it for cadmium to
determine if it falls within the regulations.
You would not only be doing yourself a service but the whole
industry. There have been times that gold was stamped a certain
karat only to be discovered by the news media that it was not
regulated and was being sold under karat.
I wish you well.
I don’t have MS, but I do have essential tremors and heavy metals and
continually get checked for MS, and Parkinson’s Disease. Heavy metals
are everywhere as Alma pointed out in our environment and once you
are saturated with any type, you are a sponge to all. Your body has a
very difficult time getting rid of them. Arsenic is in the treated
woods you stand barefoot on while bbq’ all summer, aluminum is
released in your food when you cook on it. Old paint has cadmium(had
a job as a teenager as a commercial painter), etc, etc. My guess is
it is not just cadmium in your system, you have an elevated level of
other metals as well from the environment like Alma says. I know it
may sound hokey, but what helped me and my tremers and my level of
lead, arsenic, and other heavy metals was chelation therapy at a
place called the Born Clinic in Grand Rapids, MI. It is a method
developed by the government when they overexposed a bunch of soldiers
to lead and needed a method to try and extract the lead from them.
The hokey part is that the therapy is not toted as a cure for
everything. Anyway, feel free to contact me direct if you have any
I heard a conversation a few months ago in an art supply store
about purchasing oil paints vs acrilic paints for studio art
classes. I didn't pay much attention but I remember the sales
person said for one of the colors, artists are using acrylic rather
than oil because the oil contains cadmium.
Why does one pass on half overheard conversation such as this?
There is a cadmium yellow but does that mean it contains cadmium? Or
is this the start of an urban legend?
I am sure the solder is cadmium free. The problem is once the
cadmium is in the body it cannot be processed. As the message before
mentioned cadmium is in our everyday life. Batteries and thus cell
phones are major contributors. I would recommend reading the book
Detox outside the box. I use a product called Detoxamin for
chelating. It is working, I do even better when a eat a raw food diet
and take zinc. I purchase these items from needs.com. They are very
helpful on the phone and knowlegable. Good Luck.
If people are worried about cadmium solder, they should also think
long and hard about if they are smokers also!!! Do the research and
you’ll see what I mean!
Why does one pass on half overheard conversation such as this?
Sometimes even half heard advice can be true…
There is a cadmium yellow but does that mean it contains cadmium?
Or is this the start of an urban legend?
Cadmium yellow as a paint color is named because cadmium salts were
the colorant. Cadmium is capable of producing some of the most
intense yellow pigments out there. Used in some of the reds, too.
Especially in oil colors. It’s still sold that way in some brands,
but other synthetic colors that are somewhat similar (but not
identical) are sometimes marketed as (cadmium free) cadmium yellow
because that is what they’re meant to replace, though the non-cadmium
paints are not exact replacements for color, or in the way they mix.
It’s a case of needing to read the label carefully. The real cadmium
yellows are intense and somewhat unique, so some artists still use
it, when they feel the substitutes don’t work as well. And those real
cad yellows are more common with oil colors than with acrylics. I
don’t know if you can still buy acrylic cad yellows with cadmium, but
I know I did in the 70s in art school, as well as the oil color
versions. And I know you can still find “real” cadmium yellows in
some oil color lines, though now usually sold with warnings on the
labels. I know that simply because I just looked at the labels of
some tubes I’ve still got in the basement, purchased perhaps 8 years
ago. Those were part of a fairly cheap oil colors set made in
china… (toxic stuff sold maybe for kids, from china. What a
surprise.) And for what it’s worth, just because the paint may use
cadmium doesn’t automatically mean it’s too dangerous to use. It may
mean it’s not good for children or students who don’t know enough
not to put brushes in their mouths, or how to keep paint off their
skin. Cadmium pigment locked in an oil paint binder isn’t going
anywhere once it’s on the canvas unless you dislike your work so much
you burn it… Unlike solders, there are no invisible cadmium fumes
emitted from paint used normally. Don’t eat it. Don’t dry it and then
grind it up to dust. Don’t lick your brushes, or paint your face with
I’m sorry for the person who has to deal with this cadmium stuff.
I’ve been reading more info about cadmium on wikipedia.com…cadmium
can be nasty !!
However, if I’m not mistaking, the question posed was if cadmium
free solder is realy cadmium free? By all means, are we not getting
far away from this subject?
Nice greetings -)
Why is it that threads such as this start off nicely but then very
quickly drift off into realms of fantasy and pseudo-science? The
sooner people realise and accept that our planet is a homogeneous
lump and not a set of small compartments the better. Cadmium exists
everywhere if you look for it as do all the other heavy metals,
radioactive isotopes, pathogenic bacteria etc. etc. All these
materials exist in or on rocks which erode and are either washed off
into our water or blow about our planet. This has been going on
since the earth formed and so these things are in all our soils and
are absorbed by plants which are then eaten by us and the animals we
also eat…(some places do concentrate more than others). Also, until
the last few decades, no attempts were made to clean up emissions
from factories and I can well remember brightly coloured smoke from
our local steel works colouring all the sky - the orange/red smoke,
while very pretty, was most likely heavily laced with cadmium and
other potentially toxic fumes from the making of stainless steel…
These finely divided particles would both drop over a large local
swathe of land and also be entrapped by water droplets at higher
levels and carried maybe hundreds of miles before falling as rain.
However, all this pollution has very little effect on our lives and
doesn’t prevent people living to a ripe old age - one of my fellow
countrymen has just died at the age of 113! He put his longevity
down to smoking and drinking whisky for all his life when interviewed
recently !!! You can take sensible steps to not deliberately expose
yourself to excesses of any known harmful agents but there is no
point in getting paranoid. As to artists pigments, Cadmium yellow is
indeed based on cadmium - as cadmium sulphide but this is bound up
in the oil / acrylic medium and is unlikely to ever affect you.
Similarly, Flake white is lead based, pale yellows are barium or
strontium chromates (barium, strontium and chromium are all toxic
metals in raw form…), chrome yellow is lead chromate, greens are
often oxides of chromium or contain arsenic, prussian blue is
ferro-cyanide of iron, and cerulean blue is stannate of cobalt. All
these substances are potentially harmful in their raw state if
ingested in quantity but, so long as I don’t suck my paint brush
every day, I don’t think I am going to worry about continuing to use
them… I will, however, attempt to avoid obesity which is a far
greater killer than any environmental pollutants!
Ian W. Wright
We do baseline blood tests on new employees. We have seen
surprisingly high results for various metals, from young urban (east
L.A.) men. For whatever reason the results for one Idaho raised man
and one Filipino man were"normal".
This is a good time to mention the art paint pigment would be an
oxide, all locked up in the oils, etc. Short of eating or inhaling
smoke from it, I would expect the solvents in the paint to be a far
larger threat. The painter would not be exposed. Infamously we know
small kids will eat house paint chips but I’d imagine (hope) not your
average oil painting.
Jewelers face it because we /melt /this stuff and some of it becomes
a vapor or gas. There are safe places for metals that are a threat
under other industrial circumstances. Pigments are a fine example.
Call me crazy but I’d feel very safe owning (not making) cadmium
oxide pigment enamel jewelry, cadmium pigmented tile, or oil
paintings. If I were to use cadmium pigments in heat, Id sure
ventilate /and/ or mask properly. I’ts worth repeating-We are not
supposed to inhale /any/ of these metals, let alone whatever comes
off flux etc. Take care of that and you can concern yourself a bit
less with materials.
Solder that is labeled as cadmium free, should absolutely be cadmium
It is against the law to mark something made in the United States,
cadmium free if it is not cadmium free.
So, when buying solder, please inquire of the supplier if that
solder you are buying does indeed contain cadmium. It should be
clearly marked. There are still manufacturers adding the cadmium as
some do like solder that contains cadmium; can not understand that,
but to each their own. I do wish you the best in your quest for
managing your MS. There are so many medications coming to market that
can help. It is so important that people make donations for more
research and keep the dollars flowing into research to find a cure
for so many diseases.
Unique Solutions, Inc
Paste, Powder and Wire Solder for Jewelers and Metalsmiths