1817 Cadmium

The book of science

Tom Sharp

GöttingenKarl Samuel Leberecht Hermann, Friedrich Stromeyer, Johann Christoff Heinrich Roloff elements Cadmium


Three chemists— Karl Samuel Leberecht Hermann, Friedrich Stromeyer, and Johann Christoff Heinrich Roloff —discovered cadmium independently, and at the same time, and they all knew each other. Roloff found a new metal as an impurity in zinc oxide that he thought at first was arsenic. Roloff got his samples from Hermann. Without Roloff telling Hermann or Hermann telling Roloff, Hermann sent his samples to Stromeyer and tested the stuff himself, finding a new metal. Roloff also sent samples to Stromeyer, but Stromeyer had already tested the samples from Hermann and found, also independently, that it contained a new metal. Roloff told Stromeyer that he could name it, but Stromeyer had already named it Kadmium.

Atomic number 48

Cadmium has a low melting point like mercury, the same oxidation state as zinc, and is known as a hazardous substance, toxic to all life except for a few diatoms. It is used in artists’ pigments, steel electroplating, coating on photocopier drums, and rechargeable nickel-cadmium batteries.

Itai-itai disease

“It hurts; it hurts.”

People who ate rice irrigated by water from the Jinzū River reported the problem in 1912. The cause was not confirmed to be cadmium poisoning until 1968.

See also in The book of science:

Readings on wikipedia:

Other readings:

  • Cadmium,” Elementymology & Elements Multidict, by Peter van der Krogt