Nickel is a chemical element with symbol Ni and atomic number 28. It
is a silvery-white lustrous metal with a slight golden tinge. Nickel
belongs to the transition metals and is hard and ductile. Pure nickel,
powdered to maximize the reactive surface area, shows a significant
chemical activity, but larger pieces are slow to react with air under
standard conditions because an oxide layer forms on the surface and
prevents further corrosion (passivation). Even so, pure native nickel
is found in Earth's crust only in tiny amounts, usually in ultramafic
rocks, and in the interiors of larger nickel–iron meteorites
that were not exposed to oxygen when outside Earth's atmosphere.
Meteoric nickel is found in combination with iron, a reflection of the
origin of those elements as major end products of supernova
nucleosynthesis. An iron–nickel mixture is thought to compose
Earth's inner core.
Use of nickel (as a natural meteoric nickel–iron alloy) has been
traced as far back as 3500 BCE.
Nickel was first isolated and
classified as a chemical element in 1751 by Axel Fredrik Cronstedt,
who initially mistook the ore for a copper mineral, in the cobalt
mines of Los, Hälsingland, Sweden. The element's name comes from a
mischievous sprite of German miner mythology,
Nickel (similar to Old
Nick), who personified the fact that copper-nickel ores resisted
refinement into copper. An economically important source of nickel is
the iron ore limonite, which often contains 1–2% nickel. Nickel's
other important ore minerals include pentlandite and a mixture of
Ni-rich natural silicates known as garnierite. Major production sites
include the Sudbury region in
Canada (which is thought to be of
New Caledonia in the Pacific, and
Norilsk in Russia.
Nickel is slowly oxidized by air at room temperature and is considered
corrosion-resistant. Historically, it has been used for plating iron
and brass, coating chemistry equipment, and manufacturing certain
alloys that retain a high silvery polish, such as German silver. About
9% of world nickel production is still used for corrosion-resistant
nickel plating. Nickel-plated objects sometimes provoke nickel
Nickel has been widely used in coins, though its rising price
has led to some replacement with cheaper metals in recent years.
Nickel is one of four elements (the others are iron, cobalt, and
gadolinium) that are ferromagnetic at approximately room
Alnico permanent magnets based partly on nickel are of
intermediate strength between iron-based permanent magnets and
rare-earth magnets. The metal is valuable in modern times chiefly in
alloys; about 68% of world production is used in stainless steel. A
further 10% is used for nickel-based and copper-based alloys, 7% for
alloy steels, 3% in foundries, 9% in plating and 4% in other
applications, including the fast-growing battery sector. As a
compound, nickel has a number of niche chemical manufacturing uses,
such as a catalyst for hydrogenation, cathodes for batteries, pigments
and metal surface treatments.
Nickel is an essential nutrient for
some microorganisms and plants that have enzymes with nickel as an
1.1 Atomic and physical properties
Electron configuration dispute
2.4 Nickel(III) and (IV)
4.3 United Kingdom
4.4 United States
4.5 Current use
5 World production
6 Extraction and purification
6.2 Mond process
8 Biological role
11 External links
Atomic and physical properties
Electron micrograph of a Ni nanocrystal inside a single wall carbon
nanotube; scale bar 5 nm.
Molar volume vs. pressure at room temperature
Nickel is a silvery-white metal with a slight golden tinge that takes
a high polish. It is one of only four elements that are magnetic at or
near room temperature, the others being iron, cobalt and gadolinium.
Curie temperature is 355 °C (671 °F), meaning that
bulk nickel is non-magnetic above this temperature. The unit cell
of nickel is a face-centered cube with the lattice parameter of
0.352 nm, giving an atomic radius of 0.124 nm. This crystal
structure is stable to pressures of at least 70 GPa. Nickel
belongs to the transition metals and is hard and ductile.
Electron configuration dispute
The nickel atom has two electron configurations, [Ar] 3d8 4s2 and [Ar]
3d9 4s1, which are very close in energy – the symbol [Ar] refers to
the argon-like core structure. There is some disagreement on which
configuration has the lowest energy. Chemistry textbooks quote the
electron configuration of nickel as [Ar] 4s2 3d8, which can also
be written [Ar] 3d8 4s2. This configuration agrees with the
Madelung energy ordering rule, which predicts that 4s is filled before
3d. It is supported by the experimental fact that the lowest energy
state of the nickel atom is a 3d8 4s2 energy level, specifically the
3d8(3F) 4s2 3F, J = 4 level.
However, each of these two configurations splits into several energy
levels due to fine structure, and the two sets of energy levels
overlap. The average energy of states with configuration [Ar] 3d9 4s1
is actually lower than the average energy of states with configuration
[Ar] 3d8 4s2. For this reason, the research literature on atomic
calculations quotes the ground state configuration of nickel as [Ar]
Main article: Isotopes of nickel
The isotopes of nickel range in atomic weight from 48 u (48Ni) to
78 u (78Ni).
Naturally occurring nickel is composed of five stable isotopes; 58Ni,
60Ni, 61Ni, 62Ni and 64Ni, with 58Ni being the most abundant (68.077%
natural abundance). Isotopes heavier than 62Ni cannot be formed by
nuclear fusion without losing energy.
Nickel-62 has the highest mean nuclear binding energy per nucleon of
any nuclide, at 8.7946 MeV/nucleon. Its binding energy is
greater than both 56Fe and 58Fe, more abundant elements often
incorrectly cited as having the most tightly-bound nuclides.
Although this would seem to predict nickel-62 as the most abundant
heavy element in the universe, the relatively high rate of
photodisintegration of nickel in stellar interiors causes iron to be
by far the most abundant.
Stable isotope nickel-60 is the daughter product of the extinct
radionuclide 60Fe, which decays with a half-life of 2.6 million years.
Because 60Fe has such a long half-life, its persistence in materials
in the solar system may generate observable variations in the isotopic
composition of 60Ni. Therefore, the abundance of 60Ni present in
extraterrestrial material may provide insight into the origin of the
solar system and its early history.
Some 18 nickel radioisotopes have been characterised, the most stable
being 59Ni with a half-life of 76,000 years, 63Ni with 100 years, and
56Ni with 6 days. All of the remaining radioactive isotopes have
half-lives that are less than 60 hours and the majority of these have
half-lives that are less than 30 seconds. This element also has one
Radioactive nickel-56 is produced by the silicon burning process and
later set free in large quantities during type Ia supernovae. The
shape of the light curve of these supernovae at intermediate to
late-times corresponds to the decay via electron capture of nickel-56
to cobalt-56 and ultimately to iron-56. Nickel-59 is a long-lived
cosmogenic radionuclide with a half-life of 76,000 years. 59Ni has
found many applications in isotope geology. 59Ni has been used to date
the terrestrial age of meteorites and to determine abundances of
extraterrestrial dust in ice and sediment. Nickel-78's half-life was
recently measured at 110 milliseconds, and is believed an important
isotope in supernova nucleosynthesis of elements heavier than
iron. The nuclide 48Ni, discovered in 1999, is the most
proton-rich heavy element isotope known. With 28 protons and 20
neutrons 48Ni is "double magic", as is 78Ni with 28 protons and 50
neutrons. Both are therefore unusually stable for nuclides with so
large a proton-neutron imbalance.
Ore genesis and Category:
Widmanstätten pattern showing the two forms of nickel-iron, kamacite
and taenite, in an octahedrite meteorite
On Earth, nickel occurs most often in combination with sulfur and iron
in pentlandite, with sulfur in millerite, with arsenic in the mineral
nickeline, and with arsenic and sulfur in nickel galena.
commonly found in iron meteorites as the alloys kamacite and taenite.
The bulk of the nickel is mined from two types of ore deposits. The
first is laterite, where the principal ore mineral mixtures are
nickeliferous limonite, (Fe,Ni)O(OH), and garnierite (a mixture of
various hydrous nickel and nickel-rich silicates). The second is
magmatic sulfide deposits, where the principal ore mineral is
New Caledonia have the biggest estimate reserves (45%
Identified land-based resources throughout the world averaging 1%
nickel or greater comprise at least 130 million tons of nickel (about
the double of known reserves). About 60% is in laterites and 40% in
On geophysical evidence, most of the nickel on Earth is believed to be
in the Earth's outer and inner cores.
Kamacite and taenite are
naturally occurring alloys of iron and nickel. For kamacite, the alloy
is usually in the proportion of 90:10 to 95:5, although impurities
(such as cobalt or carbon) may be present, while for taenite the
nickel content is between 20% and 65%.
Kamacite and taenite are also
found in nickel iron meteorites.
See also: Category:
The most common oxidation state of nickel is +2, but compounds of Ni0,
Ni+, and Ni3+ are well known, and the exotic oxidation states Ni2−,
Ni1−, and Ni4+ have been produced and studied.
Nickel tetracarbonyl (Ni(CO)
4), discovered by Ludwig Mond, is a volatile, highly toxic liquid
at room temperature. On heating, the complex decomposes back to nickel
and carbon monoxide:
4 ⇌ Ni + 4 CO
This behavior is exploited in the
Mond process for purifying nickel,
as described above. The related nickel(0) complex
bis(cyclooctadiene)nickel(0) is a useful catalyst in organonickel
chemistry because the cyclooctadiene (or cod) ligands are easily
Nickel(I) complexes are uncommon, but one example is the tetrahedral
complex NiBr(PPh3)3. Many nickel(I) complexes feature Ni-Ni bonding,
such as the dark red diamagnetic K
6] prepared by reduction of K
6] with sodium amalgam. This compound is oxidised in water, liberating
It is thought that the nickel(I) oxidation state is important to
nickel-containing enzymes, such as [NiFe]-hydrogenase, which catalyzes
the reversible reduction of protons to H
Structure of [Ni
Color of various Ni(II) complexes in aqueous solution. From left to
6]2+, [Ni(C2H4(NH2)2)]2+, [NiCl
Crystals of hydrated nickel sulfate.
Nickel(II) forms compounds with all common anions, including sulfide,
sulfate, carbonate, hydroxide, carboxylates, and halides. Nickel(II)
sulfate is produced in large quantities by dissolving nickel metal or
oxides in sulfuric acid, forming both a hexa- and heptahydrates
useful for electroplating nickel. Common salts of nickel, such as the
chloride, nitrate, and sulfate, dissolve in water to give green
solutions of the metal aquo complex [Ni(H
The four halides form nickel compounds, which are solids with
molecules that feature octahedral Ni centres.
Nickel(II) chloride is
most common, and its behavior is illustrative of the other halides.
Nickel(II) chloride is produced by dissolving nickel or its oxide in
hydrochloric acid. It is usually encountered as the green hexahydrate,
the formula of which is usually written NiCl2•6H2O. When dissolved
in water, this salt forms the metal aquo complex [Ni(H
6]2+. Dehydration of NiCl2•6H2O gives the yellow anhydrous NiCl
Some tetracoordinate nickel(II) complexes, e.g.
bis(triphenylphosphine)nickel chloride, exist both in tetrahedral and
square planar geometries. The tetrahedral complexes are paramagnetic,
whereas the square planar complexes are diamagnetic. In having
properties of magnetic equilibrium and formation of octahedral
complexes, they contrast with the divalent complexes of the heavier
group 10 metals, palladium(II) and platinum(II), which form only
Nickelocene is known; it has an electron count of 20, making it
Nickel(III) and (IV)
Numerous Ni(III) compounds are known, with the first such examples
being Nickel(III) trihalophosphines (NiIII(PPh3)X3). Further,
Ni(III) forms simple salts with fluoride or oxide ions. Ni(III)
can be stabilized by σ-donor ligands such as thiols and
Ni(IV) is present in the mixed oxide BaNiO
3, while Ni(III) is present in nickel oxide hydroxide, which is used
as the cathode in many rechargeable batteries, including
nickel-cadmium, nickel-iron, nickel hydrogen, and nickel-metal
hydride, and used by certain manufacturers in
Ni(IV) remains a rare oxidation state of nickel and very few compounds
are known to date.
Because the ores of nickel are easily mistaken for ores of silver,
understanding of this metal and its use dates to relatively recent
times. However, the unintentional use of nickel is ancient, and can be
traced back as far as 3500 BCE. Bronzes from what is now Syria have
been found to contain as much as 2% nickel. Some ancient Chinese
manuscripts suggest that "white copper" (cupronickel, known as
baitong) was used there between 1700 and 1400 BCE. This Paktong white
copper was exported to Britain as early as the 17th century, but the
nickel content of this alloy was not discovered until 1822. Coins
of nickel-copper alloy were minted by the Bactrian kings Agathocles,
Euthydemus II and
Pantaleon in the 2nd Century BCE, possibly out of
the Chinese cupronickel.
In medieval Germany, a red mineral was found in the
Mountains) that resembled copper ore. However, when miners were unable
to extract any copper from it, they blamed a mischievous sprite of
Nickel (similar to Old Nick), for besetting the
copper. They called this ore Kupfernickel from the German Kupfer for
copper. This ore is now known to be nickeline (aka
niccolite), a nickel arsenide. In 1751, Baron Axel Fredrik Cronstedt
tried to extract copper from kupfernickel at a cobalt mine in the
Swedish village of Los, and instead produced a white metal that he
named after the spirit that had given its name to the mineral,
nickel. In modern German, Kupfernickel or Kupfer-
the alloy cupronickel.
Originally, the only source for nickel was the rare Kupfernickel.
Beginning in 1824, nickel was obtained as a byproduct of cobalt blue
production. The first large-scale smelting of nickel began in Norway
in 1848 from nickel-rich pyrrhotite. The introduction of nickel in
steel production in 1889 increased the demand for nickel, and the
nickel deposits of New Caledonia, discovered in 1865, provided most of
the world's supply between 1875 and 1915. The discovery of the large
deposits in the Sudbury Basin,
Canada in 1883, in Norilsk-Talnakh,
Russia in 1920, and in the Merensky Reef, South Africa in 1924, made
large-scale production of nickel possible.
Dutch coins made of pure nickel
Aside from the aforementioned Bactrian coins, nickel was not a
component of coins until the mid-19th century.
99.9% nickel five-cent coins were struck in
Canada (the world's
largest nickel producer at the time) during non-war years from
1922–1981; the metal content made these coins magnetic. During
the wartime period 1942–45, most or all nickel was removed from
Canadian and U.S. coins to save it for manufacturing armor.
Canada used 99.9% nickel from 1968 in its higher-value coins until
Coins of nearly pure nickel were first used in 1881 in
Birmingham forged nickel coins in about 1833 for trading in
In the United States, the term "nickel" or "nick" originally applied
to the copper-nickel Flying Eagle cent, which replaced copper with 12%
nickel 1857–58, then the
Indian Head cent
Indian Head cent of the same alloy from
1859–1864. Still later, in 1865, the term designated the three-cent
nickel, with nickel increased to 25%. In 1866, the five-cent shield
nickel (25% nickel, 75% copper) appropriated the designation. Along
with the alloy proportion, this term has been used to the present in
the United States.
In the 21st century, the high price of nickel has led to some
replacement of the metal in coins around the world.
Coins still made
with nickel alloys include one- and two-euro coins, 5¢, 10¢, 25¢
and 50¢ U.S. coins, and 20p, 50p, £1 and £2 UK coins. Nickel-alloy
in 5p and 10p UK coins was replaced with nickel-plated steel began in
2012, causing allergy problems for some people and public
Time trend of nickel production
Nickel ores grade evolution in some leading nickel producing
Around 2 million tonnes of nickel are produced annually worldwide.
The Philippines, Indonesia, Russia,
Australia are the
world's largest producers of nickel, as reported by the US Geological
Survey. The largest deposits of nickel in non-Russian Europe are
Finland and Greece. Identified land-based resources
averaging 1% nickel or greater contain at least 130 million tons of
nickel. About 60% is in laterites and 40% is in sulfide deposits. In
addition, extensive deep-sea resources of nickel are in manganese
crusts and nodules covering large areas of the ocean floor,
particularly in the Pacific Ocean.
The one locality in the United States where nickel has been profitably
mined is Riddle, Oregon, where several square miles of nickel-bearing
garnierite surface deposits are located. The mine closed in
Eagle mine project
Eagle mine project is a new nickel mine in
Michigan's upper peninsula. Construction was completed in 2013, and
operations began in the third quarter of 2014. In the first full
year of operation, Eagle Mine produced 18,000 tonnes.
Mine production and reserves (in metric tons)
World total (rounded)
Extraction and purification
Evolution of the annual nickel extraction, according to ores.
Nickel is obtained through extractive metallurgy: it is extracted from
the ore by conventional roasting and reduction processes that yield a
metal of greater than 75% purity. In many stainless steel
applications, 75% pure nickel can be used without further
purification, depending on the impurities.
Traditionally, most sulfide ores have been processed using
pyrometallurgical techniques to produce a matte for further refining.
Recent advances in hydrometallurgical techniques resulted in
significantly purer metallic nickel product. Most sulfide deposits
have traditionally been processed by concentration through a froth
flotation process followed by pyrometallurgical extraction. In
hydrometallurgical processes, nickel sulfide ores are concentrated
with flotation (differential flotation if Ni/Fe ratio is too low) and
then smelted. The nickel matte is further processed with the
Sherritt-Gordon process. First, copper is removed by adding hydrogen
sulfide, leaving a concentrate of cobalt and nickel. Then, solvent
extraction is used to separate the cobalt and nickel, with the final
nickel content greater than 99%.
Electrolytically refined nickel nodule, with green, crystallized
nickel-electrolyte salts visible in the pores.
A second common refining process is leaching the metal matte into a
nickel salt solution, followed by the electro-winning of the nickel
from solution by plating it onto a cathode as electrolytic nickel.
Highly purified nickel spheres made by the Mond process.
Main article: Mond process
The purest metal is obtained from nickel oxide by the Mond process,
which achieves a purity of greater than 99.99%. The process was
Ludwig Mond and has been in industrial use since before
the beginning of the 20th century. In this process, nickel is reacted
with carbon monoxide in the presence of a sulfur catalyst at around
40–80 °C to form nickel carbonyl.
Iron gives iron
pentacarbonyl, too, but this reaction is slow. If necessary, the
nickel may be separated by distillation.
Dicobalt octacarbonyl is also
formed in nickel distillation as a by-product, but it decomposes to
tetracobalt dodecacarbonyl at the reaction temperature to give a
Nickel is obtained from nickel carbonyl by one of two processes. It
may be passed through a large chamber at high temperatures in which
tens of thousands of nickel spheres, called pellets, are constantly
stirred. The carbonyl decomposes and deposits pure nickel onto the
nickel spheres. In the alternate process, nickel carbonyl is
decomposed in a smaller chamber at 230 °C to create a fine
nickel powder. The byproduct carbon monoxide is recirculated and
reused. The highly pure nickel product is known as "carbonyl
The market price of nickel surged throughout 2006 and the early months
of 2007; as of April 5, 2007, the metal was trading at US$52,300/tonne
or $1.47/oz. The price subsequently fell dramatically, and as of
September 2017, the metal was trading at $11,000/tonne, or
The US nickel coin contains 0.04 ounces (1.1 g) of nickel, which
at the April 2007 price was worth 6.5 cents, along with
3.75 grams of copper worth about 3 cents, with a total metal
value of more than 9 cents. Since the face value of a nickel is 5
cents, this made it an attractive target for melting by people wanting
to sell the metals at a profit. However, the United States Mint, in
anticipation of this practice, implemented new interim rules on
December 14, 2006, subject to public comment for 30 days, which
criminalized the melting and export of cents and nickels.
Violators can be punished with a fine of up to $10,000 and/or
imprisoned for a maximum of five years.
As of September 19, 2013, the melt value of a U.S. nickel (copper and
nickel included) is $0.045, which is 90% of the face value.
Nickel superalloy jet engine (RB199) turbine blade
The global production of nickel is presently used as follows: 68% in
stainless steel; 10% in nonferrous alloys; 9% in electroplating; 7% in
alloy steel; 3% in foundries; and 4% other uses (including
Nickel is used in many specific and recognizable industrial and
consumer products, including stainless steel, alnico magnets, coinage,
rechargeable batteries, electric guitar strings, microphone capsules,
plating on plumbing fixtures, and special alloys such as
permalloy, elinvar, and invar. It is used for plating and as a green
tint in glass.
Nickel is preeminently an alloy metal, and its chief
use is in nickel steels and nickel cast irons, in which it typically
increases the tensile strength, toughness, and elastic limit. It is
widely used in many other alloys, including nickel brasses and bronzes
and alloys with copper, chromium, aluminium, lead, cobalt, silver, and
gold (Inconel, Incoloy, Monel, Nimonic).
A "horseshoe magnet" made of alnico nickel alloy.
Because it is resistant to corrosion, nickel was occasionally used as
a substitute for decorative silver.
Nickel was also occasionally used
in some countries after 1859 as a cheap coinage metal (see above), but
in the later years of the 20th century was replaced by cheaper
stainless steel (i.e., iron) alloys, except in the United States and
Nickel is an excellent alloying agent for certain precious metals and
is used in the fire assay as a collector of platinum group elements
(PGE). As such, nickel is capable of fully collecting all 6 PGE
elements from ores, and of partially collecting gold. High-throughput
nickel mines may also engage in PGE recovery (primarily platinum and
palladium); examples are
Russia and the
Sudbury Basin in
Nickel foam or nickel mesh is used in gas diffusion electrodes for
alkaline fuel cells.
Nickel and its alloys are frequently used as catalysts for
hydrogenation reactions. Raney nickel, a finely divided
nickel-aluminium alloy, is one common form, though related catalysts
are also used, including Raney-type catalysts.
Nickel is a naturally magnetostrictive material, meaning that, in the
presence of a magnetic field, the material undergoes a small change in
length. The magnetostriction of nickel is on the order of
50 ppm and is negative, indicating that it contracts.
Nickel is used as a binder in the cemented tungsten carbide or
hardmetal industry and used in proportions of 6% to 12% by weight.
Nickel makes the tungsten carbide magnetic and adds
corrosion-resistance to the cemented parts, although the hardness is
less than those with a cobalt binder.
63Ni, with its half-life of 100.1 years, is useful in krytron devices
as a beta particle (high-speed electron) emitter to make ionization by
the keep-alive electrode more reliable.
Around 27% of all nickel production is destined for engineering, 10%
for building and construction, 14% for tubular products, 20% for metal
goods, 14% for transport, 11% for electronic goods, and 5% for other
Although not recognized until the 1970s, nickel is known to play an
important role in the biology of some plants, eubacteria,
archaebacteria, and fungi.
Nickel enzymes such as urease
are considered virulence factors in some organisms. Urease
catalyzes the hydrolysis of urea to form ammonia and
carbamate. The NiFe hydrogenases can catalyze the oxidation of
2 to form protons and electrons, and can also catalyze the reverse
reaction, the reduction of protons to form hydrogen gas. A
nickel-tetrapyrrole coenzyme, cofactor F430, is present in methyl
coenzyme M reductase, which can catalyze the formation of methane, or
the reverse reaction, in methanogenic archaea. One of the carbon
monoxide dehydrogenase enzymes consists of an Fe-Ni-S cluster.
Other nickel-bearing enzymes include a rare bacterial class of
superoxide dismutase and glyoxalase I enzymes in bacteria and
several parasitic eukaryotic trypanosomal parasites (in higher
organisms, including yeast and mammals, this enzyme contains divalent
Dietary nickel may affect human health through infections by
nickel-dependent bacteria, but it is also possible that nickel is an
essential nutrient for bacteria residing in the large intestine, in
effect functioning as a prebiotic. The U.S. Institute of Medicine
has not confirmed that nickel is an essential nutrient for humans, so
Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) nor an Adequate Intake
have been established. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level of dietary
nickel is 1000 µg/day as soluble nickel salts. Dietary intake is
estimated at 70 to 100 µg/day, with less than 10% absorbed. What
is absorbed is excreted in urine. Relatively large amounts of
nickel – comparable to the estimated average ingestion above –
leach into food cooked in stainless steel. For example, the amount of
nickel leached after 10 cooking cycles into one serving of tomato
sauce averages 88 µg.
Nickel released from
Siberian Traps volcanic eruptions is suspected of
assisting the growth of Methanosarcina, a genus of euryarchaeote
archaea that produced methane during the Permian–Triassic extinction
event, the biggest extinction event on record.
Oxidized nickel surface
The major source of nickel exposure is oral consumption, as nickel is
essential to plants.
Nickel is found naturally in both food and
water, and may be increased by human pollution. For example,
nickel-plated faucets may contaminate water and soil; mining and
smelting may dump nickel into waste-water; nickel–steel alloy
cookware and nickel-pigmented dishes may release nickel into food. The
atmosphere may be polluted by nickel ore refining and fossil fuel
combustion. Humans may absorb nickel directly from tobacco smoke and
skin contact with jewelry, shampoos, detergents, and coins. A
less-common form of chronic exposure is through hemodialysis as traces
of nickel ions may be absorbed into the plasma from the chelating
action of albumin.
The average daily exposure does not pose a threat to human health.
Most of the nickel absorbed every day by humans is removed by the
kidneys and passed out of the body through urine or is eliminated
through the gastrointestinal tract without being absorbed.
not a cumulative poison, but larger doses or chronic inhalation
exposure may be toxic, even carcinogenic, and constitute an
Nickel compounds are classified as human carcinogens
based on increased respiratory cancer risks observed in
epidemiological studies of sulfidic ore refinery workers. This is
supported by the positive results of the NTP bioassays with Ni
sub-sulfide and Ni oxide in rats and mice. The human and
animal data consistently indicate a lack of carcinogenicity via the
oral route of exposure and limit the carcinogenicity of nickel
compounds to respiratory tumours after inhalation. Nickel
metal is classified as a suspect carcinogen; there is
consistency between the absence of increased respiratory cancer risks
in workers predominantly exposed to metallic nickel and the lack
of respiratory tumours in a rat lifetime inhalation carcinogenicity
study with nickel metal powder. In the rodent inhalation studies
with various nickel compounds and nickel metal, increased lung
inflammations with and without bronchial lymph node hyperplasia or
fibrosis were observed. In rat studies, oral
ingestion of water-soluble nickel salts can trigger perinatal
mortality effects in pregnant animals. Whether these effects are
relevant to humans is unclear as epidemiological studies of highly
exposed female workers have not shown adverse developmental toxicity
People can be exposed to nickel in the workplace by inhalation,
ingestion, and contact with skin or eye. The Occupational Safety and
Health Administration (OSHA) has set the legal limit (permissible
exposure limit) for the workplace at 1 mg/m3 per 8-hour workday,
excluding nickel carbonyl. The National Institute for Occupational
Safety and Health (NIOSH) specifies the recommended exposure limit
(REL) of 0.015 mg/m3 per 8-hour workday. At 10 mg/m3, nickel
is immediately dangerous to life and health.
4] is an extremely toxic gas. The toxicity of metal carbonyls is a
function of both the toxicity of the metal and the off-gassing of
carbon monoxide from the carbonyl functional groups; nickel carbonyl
is also explosive in air.
Sensitized individuals may show a skin contact allergy to nickel known
as a contact dermatitis. Highly sensitized individuals may also react
to foods with high nickel content. Sensitivity to nickel may also
be present in patients with pompholyx.
Nickel is the top confirmed
contact allergen worldwide, partly due to its use in jewelry for
Nickel allergies affecting pierced ears are often
marked by itchy, red skin. Many earrings are now made without nickel
or low-release nickel to address this problem. The amount allowed
in products that contact human skin is now regulated by the European
Union. In 2002, researchers found that the nickel released by 1 and 2
Euro coins was far in excess of those standards. This is believed to
be the result of a galvanic reaction.
Nickel was voted Allergen
of the Year in 2008 by the American Contact
In August 2015, the American Academy of Dermatology adopted a position
statement on the safety of nickel: "Estimates suggest that contact
dermatitis, which includes nickel sensitization, accounts for
approximately $1.918 billion and affects nearly 72.29 million
Reports show that both the nickel-induced activation of
hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF-1) and the up-regulation of
hypoxia-inducible genes are caused by depletion of intracellular
ascorbate. The addition of ascorbate to the culture medium increased
the intracellular ascorbate level and reversed both the metal-induced
stabilization of HIF-1- and HIF-1α-dependent gene
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