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)
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)
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.
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.
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.
Rom WN. Environmental and Occupational Medicine, 4th Edition. Chapter 68. Nickel Compounds. Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, 2007.
Salnikow K, Zhitkovich. Genetic and epigenetic mechanisms in metal carcinogenesis and cocarcinogenesis: nickel, arsenic and chromium. Chem Res Toxicol, 2008; 21:28-44.
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.
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