Cadmium is a chemical element with symbol Cd and atomic number 48. This soft, bluish-white metal is chemically similar to the two other stable metals in group 12, zinc and mercury. Like zinc, it prefers oxidation state +2 in most of its compounds and like mercury it shows a low melting point compared to transition metals. Cadmium and its congeners are not always considered transition metals, in that they do not have partly filled d or f electron shells in the elemental or common oxidation states. The average concentration of cadmium in Earth's crust is between 0.1 and 0.5 parts per million (ppm). It was discovered in 1817 simultaneously by Stromeyer and Hermann, both in Germany, as an impurity in zinc carbonate.
Cadmium occurs as a minor component in most zinc ores and therefore is a byproduct of zinc production. It was used for a long time as a pigment and for corrosion-resistant plating on steel, whereas cadmium compounds were used to stabilize plastic. The use of cadmium is generally decreasing due to its toxicity (it is specifically listed in the European Restriction of Hazardous Substances) and the replacement of nickel-cadmium batteries with nickel-metal hydride and lithium-ion batteries. One of its few new uses is in cadmium telluride solar panels. Although cadmium has no known biological function in higher organisms, a cadmium-dependent carbonic anhydrase has been found in marine diatoms.