Optimal Result: 0 - 28 ug/L.

Nickel is a highly abundant element with a silvery-white appearance. Nickel is frequently combined with other metals to form alloys and is essential for the catalytic activity of some plant and bacterial enzymes but has no known role in humans.

Nickel and its compounds have no characteristic odor or taste. Nickel compounds are used for Nickel plating, to color ceramics, to make some batteries, and as substances known as catalysts that increase the rate of chemical reactions. One of the most toxic Nickel compounds is nickel carbonyl, Ni(CO)4, which is used as a catalyst in petroleum refining and in the plastics industry, is frequently employed in the production of metal alloys (which are popular for their anticorrosive and hardness properties), in nickel-cadmium rechargeable batteries, and is used as a catalyst in hydrogenation of oils. Ni(CO)4 is very toxic.

Occupational exposure to Nickel occurs primarily via inhalation of Nickel compounds. Inhalation of dust high in Nickel content has been associated with development of lung and nasal cancer.

Food is the major source of exposure to Ni.

Foods naturally high in Nickel include chocolate, soybeans, nuts, and oatmeal. Individuals may also be exposed to nickel by breathing air, drinking water, or smoking tobacco containing Nickel. Stainless steel and coins contain Nickel. Some jewelry is plated with Nickel or made from Nickel alloys. Patients may be exposed to Nickel in artificial body parts made from Nickel-containing alloys.

The most common harmful health effect of Nickel in humans is an allergic reaction. Approximately 10% to 20% of the population is sensitive to Nickel. The most serious harmful health effects from exposure to Nickel, such as chronic bronchitis, reduced lung function, and cancer of the lung and nasal sinus, have occurred in people who have breathed dust containing certain Nickel compounds while working in Nickel refineries or nickel-processing plants.

Patients undergoing dialysis are exposed to Nickel and accumulate Nickel in blood and other organs; there appear to be no adverse health effects from this exposure. Hypernickelemia has been observed in patients undergoing renal dialysis. At the present time, this is considered to be an incidental finding as no correlation with toxic events has been identified. Routine monitoring of patients undergoing dialysis is currently not recommended.

What does it mean if your Nickel result is too high?

Food is the major source of exposure to Ni.

Foods naturally high in Nickel include chocolate, soybeans, nuts, and oatmeal. Individuals may also be exposed to nickel by breathing air, drinking water, or smoking tobacco containing Nickel. Stainless steel and coins contain Nickel. Some jewelry is plated with Nickel or made from Nickel alloys. Patients may be exposed to Nickel in artificial body parts made from Nickel-containing alloys.

The most common harmful health effect of Nickel in humans is an allergic reaction. Approximately 10% to 20% of the population is sensitive to Nickel. The most serious harmful health effects from exposure to Nickel, such as chronic bronchitis, reduced lung function, and cancer of the lung and nasal sinus, have occurred in people who have breathed dust containing certain Nickel compounds while working in Nickel refineries or nickel-processing plants.

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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.

Routes of exposure:

The main routes of nickel intake for humans are inhalation, ingestion and absorption through the skin.

Air:

About 0.04–0.58 µg of nickel is released with the mainstream smoke of one cigarette. Smoking 40 cigarettes per day may thus lead to inhalation of 2–23 µg of nickel.

Drinking-water:

Nickel may be leached from nickel-containing plumbing fittings, and levels of up to 500 µg/litre have been recorded in water left overnight in such fittings. In areas with nickel mining, levels of up to 200 µg/litre have been recorded in drinking-water. The average level of nickel in drinking-water in public water supply systems in the United States was 4.8 µg/litre in 1969.

Food:

In most food products, the nickel content is less than 0.5 mg/kg fresh weight. Cacao products and nuts may, however, contain as much as 10 and 3 mg/kg, respectively.

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References:

https://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0014/123080/AQG2ndEd_6_10Nickel.pdf

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