Hair is a reasonable tissue for monitoring exposure to Nickel (Ni). However, hair is commonly contaminated with Nickel from hair treatments and dyes. When hair Nickel is measured at more than .6 ppm, the possible use of hair dyes or colorings should be investigated before concluding that excessive Nickel is present. Nickel is present in a surprisingly large number of foods and food products, including: black tea, nuts and seeds, soy milk and chocolate milk, chocolate and cocoa powders, certain canned and processed foods, including meat and fish, certain grains, including: oats, buckwheat, whole wheat and wheat germ.
There is substantial evidence that Nickel is an essential element which is required in extremely low amounts. However, excess Nickel has been well established to be nephrotoxic, and carcinogenic. Elevated Nickel is often found in individuals who work in the electronic and plating, mining, and steel manufacture industries. A cigarette typically contains from 2 to 6 mcg of Nickel; Nickel is absorbed more efficiently in the lungs than in the gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms of chronic Nickel exposure include dermatitis, chronic rhinitis, and hypersensitivity reactions. Nickel can hypersensitize the immune system, subsequently causing hyper allergenic responses to many different substances.
Symptoms of Nickel toxicity are dermatitis and pulmonary inflammation (following exposure to Nickel dust, smoke). Long term or chronic Nickel toxicity may lead to liver necrosis and carcinoma.
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