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Chemical Sampling Information (CSI)
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General Description

Synonyms: Nickel metal: Elemental nickel, Nickel catalyst; Nickel subsulfide; Other synonyms vary depending upon the specific nickel compound

OSHA IMIS Code Number: 1842

Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) Registry Number: 7440-02-0

NIOSH Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances (RTECS) Identification Number: QR5950000

NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards, Nickel metal and other compounds (as Ni): chemical description, physical properties, potentially hazardous incompatibilities, and more

Exposure Limits

OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL):
General Industry: 29 CFR 1910.1000 Z-1 Table -- 1 mg/m3 TWA (Does not apply to Nickel Carbonyl)

Construction Industry: 29 CFR 1926.55 Appendix A -- 1 mg/m3 TWA (Does not apply to Nickel Carbonyl)

Maritime: 29 CFR 1915.1000 Table Z-Shipyards -- 1 mg/m3 TWA (Does not apply to Nickel Carbonyl)
American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) Threshold Limit Value (TLV): Soluble inorganic compounds (NOS) - 0.1 mg/m3 TWA, Inhalable fraction*, Appendix A4 - Not Classifiable as a Human Carcinogen* - see Appendix C, paragraph A. [TLVs listed under Nickel, as Ni]

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Recommended Exposure Limit (REL): 0.015 mg/m3 TWA; Appendix A - NIOSH Potential Occupational Carcinogens; (Does not apply to Nickel Carbonyl)

Health Factors

Carcinogenic Classification:
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): EPA4 has not evaluated carcinogenicity of soluble nickel compounds; however, nickel refinery dust and nickel subsulfide are classified as Class A (human carcinogen)

International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC): Group 2B, possibly carcinogenic to humans (Metallic Nickel); Group 1, carcinogenic to humans (Nickel Compounds) [13 MB PDF, 189 pages]

National Toxicology Program (NTP): Known to be a human carcinogen [136 KB PDF, 4 pages]
NIOSH Immediately Dangerous To Life or Health Concentration (IDLH): 10 mg/m3 (as Ni)

Potential Symptoms: Acute/chronic skin exposure: urticaria, contact dermatitis.
Acute ingestion: nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, headache, dizziness, fatigue, cough, shortness of breath, proteinuria, hematologic abnormalities.
Acute airborne exposure: eye, nose, throat irritation; cough, wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, headache; pulmonary edema (severe exposure).
Chronic airborne exposure: asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis, rhinitis, pulmonary fibrosis, lung cancer, nasal/sinus cancer.

Health Effects: carcinogen (HE2), contact dermatitis (HE3), possible reproductive toxin (see Notes), asthma (HE9), pulmonary fibrosis (HE10), pulmonary edema with high airborne exposure (HE11), eye/nose/throat/skin irritation (HE15).

Affected Organs: Lung, Skin, Upper Respiratory Tract (nose, sinuses), Gastrointestinal (oral exposure), Immune system (allergy).

  1. Reproductive and teratogenic effects have been found in multiple animal studies, including low birth weights, stillbirths, birth defects, neonatal deaths, testicular and sperm damage 1, 3, 4, 6. There are few human studies. A Russian study 2 found an increase in spontaneous abortions and birth defects in nickel refinery workers compared to a control group. However, a case-control study of refinery workers in Norway 8 did not find an increased risk of spontaneous abortion. More studies are needed.
  2. Nickel and nickel compounds are being used in nanotechnology. Nickel-containing nanoparticles may have adverse health effects, particularly to the lung. A study of metal oxide nanoparticles 5 significant inflammation when rat lungs were exposed to nanosize nickel oxide particles.
Date Last Revised: 07/01/2009

Literature Basis:
  1. ATSDR Toxicological Profiles - Nickel. Updated August, 2005. (accessed 7/1/09)
  2. Chashschin VP, Artunina GP, Norseth T. Congential defects, abortion and other health effects in nickel refinery workers. Science Total Environ, 1994; 148:287-91.
  3. Das KK, Das SN, Dhundasi SA. Nickel, its adverse health effects & oxidative stress. Indian J Med Res, 2008; 128:412-25. (good review)
  4. EPA IRIS, Nickel, soluble salts (CASRN Various). Last updated 1/10/08. (accessed 6/9/09)
  5. Lu S, Duffin R, Poland C, Daly P, Murphy F, Drost E, MacNee W, Stone V, Donaldson K. Efficacy of simple short-term in vitro assays for predicting the potential of metal oxide nanoparticles to cause pulmonary inflammation. Environ Health Persp, 2009; 117:241-7.
  6. Rom WN. Environmental and Occupational Medicine, 4th Edition. Chapter 68. Nickel Compounds. Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, 2007.
  7. Salnikow K, Zhitkovich. Genetic and epigenetic mechanisms in metal carcinogenesis and cocarcinogenesis: nickel, arsenic and chromium. Chem Res Toxicol, 2008; 21:28-44.
  8. Vaktskjold A, Talykova LV, Chashehin VP, Odland JO, Nieboer E. Spontaneous abortions among nickel-exposed female refinery workers. Int J Environ Health Res, 2008; 18:99-115.
Monitoring Methods used by OSHA

Laboratory Sampling/Analytical Method:
  • sampling media: Mixed Cellulose Ester Filter (MCEF) 0.8 microns
    analytical solvent: Deionized water
    maximum volume: 960 Liters
    minimum volume: 480
    maximum flow rate: 2.0 L/min
    current analytical method: Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy; AAS
    method reference: OSHA Analytical Method (OSHA ID-121)
    method classification: Fully Validated
    alternate analytical method: Inductively Coupled Argon Plasma; ICP-AES/MS
    method reference: OSHA Analytical Method (OSHA ID-125G, OSHA 1006)
    method classification: Fully Validated
    note: If the filter is not overloaded, samples may be collected up to an 8-hour period.
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Page last updated: 09/01/2009

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