The relationship of measured or modelled Cd concentrations in soil, house dust and available to plants with human urinary Cd concentrations were assessed in a population living around a Cd/Pb/Zn smelter in the UK. Modelled air concentrations explained 35% of soil Cd variation indicating the smelter contributed to soil Cd loads. Multi-variate analysis confirmed a significant role of biological and life-style factors in determining urinary Cd levels. Significant correlations of urinary Cd with soil, house dust and modelled plant available Cd concentrations were not, however, found. Potential reasons for the absence of clear relationships include limited environmental contact in urban populations; the role of undefined factors in determining exposure; and the limited spatial scope of the survey which did not sample from the full pollution gradient. Further, the absence of any significant relationship indicates that environmental measures provide limited advantage over atmospheric model outputs for first stage human exposure assessment. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.