Trace Elements in West Virginia Coals

CADMIUM (Cd)Dividing Line

Cadmium Stratigraphic DistributionCadmium Geographic DistributionCadmium Summary Statistics

Cadmium is one of the Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs) as outlined in Title III of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 in West Virginia coals and is of environmental concern.

Geologic Occurrence:  Cadmium is present in very low abundance (0.10 ppm) in West Virginia coals.  Cadmium is primarily associated with minerals in coal, primarily in solid solution with Zn in the mineral sphalerite (ZnS) 1.  Cadmium has also been  noted in clay minerals and some carbonate minerals in coal 2.  Lowest Cd values are in coals below the middle of the Kanawha Formation with higher and more variable values in coals above the middle Kanawha Formation. Whole coal Cd showed no statistical correlation with ash yield, total sulfur or pyritic sulfur, but a moderate correlation with zinc and lead, representing a long known relationship between these elements in the mineral sphalerite.

Economic Impact: Very low cadmium in West Virginia coals should have no economic impact. The primary use of cadmium is in electroplating, also in solder, Ni-Cd batteries, television phosphors and a yellow pigment in paint 3.

Environmental Impact:  Cadmium is a toxic trace element in coal.  Coal combustion contributes one tenth of the Cd to the atmosphere, the same as volcanoes and is considered to be a minor source of atmospheric cadmium 2.

    1.  Gluskoter, H.J. and Lindahl, P.C., (1973)
    2.  Swaine, D.J., (1990)
    3.  CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics

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