Ni is a chemical element.



Synonyms/Trade Names:

C.I. 77775, Ni 270, Nickel 270, Nickel Particles, Nickel Sponge, Ni 0901-S, Ni 4303T, NP 2, Raney Alloy, Raney Nickel.


Nickel is a member of the iron group.


Cubic face centered.

Crystallographic Constants:

3.5238 3.5328 3.5328 90.000 90.000 90.000.

Crystal Group:




Optical Properties:




Powder Diagram:

2.03 1.76 1.25 1.06 (4-850).

Natural Sources:

Mined in Canada (Ontario), Cuba, Norway, and Russia.

Medical Importance:

Key Hazards:

Fibrogenic, carcinogenic.

Involved Organs:

Lung, upper respiratory tract.


Exposure may occur in mining, metallurgy, and in chemical industry. It is used in electrical batteries, pigments, as a catalyst, and electroplating. World production of nickel was 778×103 tons in 1977.


mg/m3 mg/m3
Australia 1
Belgium 1
Czechoslovakia 0.05 0.25
Denmark 0.5
Finland 1
France 1 1 to 4
Germany (TRK) dust 0.5, aerosol 0.05
Great Britain 1
Russia 0.05
Hungary 0.005
Japan 1
Sweden 0.5
Switzerland 0.5
United States: ACGIH 1
United States: NIOSH/OSHA 1
Germany:EKA: Ni in air Ni in urine
µg/m3 µg/l
1003 15
3003 30
5003 45


Ni is an essential element. The normal daily intake measures 300-600 µg/day. After gastrointestinal absorption, about 95% of Ni are eliminated via the feces. Sweating may decrease the Ni serum level. Its biologic half-time is up to 11 hours. If inhaled and absorbed, it is eliminated up to 90% via the urine with a half-time of 1.5 days. The secretion time increases if the Ni containing molecules are not or weakly water-soluble. Type I and type III hypersensitivity reactions have been described.

Lung Diseases:

Ni can induce lung cancer, interstitial fibrosis, nasal cancer, and possibly laryngeal cancer, as well as pneumonia, dermatitis, and an acute intoxication. Occasionally, bronchial asthma has been described. Lung cancer resembles a latency period of 20 to 30 years.

Clinical Presentation:

Ni can induce irritation of nasal mucosa, anosmia, and septum perforation. Symptoms include chronic cough, shortness of breath, and attacks of dyspnea; however, most patients have no complaints until the development of cancer. In acute intoxication with Ni-carbonylmolecules, headache, nausea, vomiting, and dyspnea occur.


Chest radiographs display findings related to size and localization of lung cancer, or mild interstitial densities.

Lung Function:

Usually normal findings until the development of cancer.

Bronchoalveolar Lavage:

Usually normal findings; in cancer patients, atypical cells and an increased number of inflammatory cells.



The lungs are of normal color and consistency, or display findings related to lung cancer.


The alveoli can contain an increased number of macrophages, the interalveolar septae can be widened and fibrotic; in addition, malignant cells of all bronchial carcinoma cell types with preference to epidermoid carcinoma may be present.


Fair, as patients have an increased risk for lung cancer and nasal cancer.

Additional Diseases:

Upper Respiratory Tract:

Cancer of the nose.


Intraperitoneal application of nickel can induce mesothelioma in animal experiments (rats).


Chronic exposure can induce a Ni-associated dermatitis.


search Pubmed for Nickel

Anderssen I, Stevens KB: Determination of nickel in lung specimens of thirty-nine autopsied nickel workers. Int Arch Occup Health 61 (1989) 289-295
Angerer J, Lehnert G: Occupational chronic exposure to metals. Int Arch Occup Health 62 (1990) 7-10
Arndt R, Fröhlich N, Lehmann E: Nickelbelastungen beim Schleifen nickelhaltiger Legierungen. Zbl Arbeitsmed 34 (1984) 138-143
Block GT, Yeung M: Asthma induced by nickel. JAMA 247 (1982) 1600-1602
Blot WJ: Lung cancer and occupational exposures. In: M Mizell, P Correa (Eds): Lung cancer: causes and prevention. Verlag Chemie Int, Weinheim (1984) 47-64
Brakhnova IT: Studies in soviet science: Environmental hazards of metals. Consultants Bureau, New York (1975)
Dolovich J, Evans SL, Nieboer E: Occupational asthma from nickel sensitivity: human serum albumin in the antigenic determinant. Br J Ind Med 41 (1984) 51-63
Edelman DA, Roggli VL: The accumulation of nickel in human lungs. Environ Health Perspect 81 (1989) 221-224
Gibbs AR: Role of asbestos and other fibers in the development of diffuse malignant mesothelioma. Thorax 45 (1990) 649-654
Goldberg M, Goldberg P, Leclerc A, Chastang JF, Brodeur JM, Segnan N, Floch JJ, Michel G: Epidemiology of respiratory cancers related to nickel mining and refining in New Caledonia (1978-1984). Int J Cancer 40 (1987) 300-304
IARC: Cancer: causes, occurrence and control. IARC Sci Publ 100 (1990)
IARC: Overall evaluations of carcinogenicity: an updating of IARC monographs volumes 1 to 42. IARC Mono Eval Carcinog Risk Human Suppl 7 (1987)
International Committee on Nickel Carcinogenesis in Man: Report of the international committee on nickel carcinogenesis in man. Scand J Work Environ Health 16 (1990) 1-82
Kaldor J, Peto J, Easton D, Doll R, Hermon C, Morgan L: Models for respiratory cancer in nickel refinery workers. JNCI 77 (1986) 841-848
Kayser K: Analytical Lung Pathology. Springer, Heidelberg, New York (1992)
Kittle CF: Mesothelioma: diagnosis and management. Year Book Medical Publishers, Chicago, London (1987)
Kollmeier H, Seemann J, Müller KM, Schejbal V, Rothe G, Wittig P, Hummelsheim G: Assoziation zwischen lungengeweblichen Chromund Nickelgehalten und Karzinomen der Lunge. Prax Klin Pneumol 42 (1988) 142-148
Lewis RJ: Carcinogenically active chemicals. Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York (1991)
Malo JL, Cartier A, Gagnon G, Evans S, Dolovich J: Isolated late asthmatic reaction due to nickel sulphate without antibodies to nickel. Clin Allergy 15 (1985) 95-99
Muir DCF, Julian J, Jadon N, Roberts R, Roos J, Chan J, Maehle W, Morgan WKC: Prevalence of small opacities in chest radiographs of nickel sinter plant workers. Br J Ind Med 50 (1993) 428-431
Nierboer E, Evans SL, J Dolovich: Occupational asthma from nickel sensitivity. Br J Ind Med 41 (1984) 51-63
Norseth T: Nickel. In: L Friberg, GN Nordberg, VB Vouk (Eds): Handbook on the toxicology of metals. Elsevier, Amsterdam, New York (1990)
O’Hollaren MT: Asthma due to metals and metal salts. In: EJ Bardana, A Montanaro, MT O’Hollaren (Eds): Occupational asthma. Hanley & Belfus, Philadelphia (1992)
Pedersen E, Hoggetveit AC, Andersen A: Cancer of respiratory organs among workers at a nickel refinery in Norway. Int J Cancer 12 (1973) 32-41
Raithel HJ: Nickel und seine Verbindungen arbeitsmedizinisch -toxikologische Aspekte. Arbeitsmed Sozialmed Präventivmed 22 (1987) 286-274, 301-310
Reger RB, Morgan WKC: Respiratory cancers in mining. Occup Med 8(1) (1993) 185-204
Reichel G: Auf anorganische Stäube mit geringem oder fehlendem Quarzgehalt zurückgehende Lungenveränderungen. In: WT Ulmer (Ed): Handbuch der inneren Medizin, Bd IV: Pneumokoniosen. Springer, Heidelberg (1978) 468-508
Roberts RS, Julian JA, Muir DC, Shannon HS: A study of mortality in workers engaged in the mining, smelting, and refining of nickel. Toxicol Ind Health 5 (1989) 975-993
Rom WN (Ed): Occupational and environmental medicine. Little, Brown and Comp, Boston (1983) Shannon HS, Julian JA, Roberts RS: A mortality study of 11,500 nickel workers. J Natl Cancer Inst 73 (1984) 1251-1258
Shannon HS, Walsh C, Jadon N, Julian JA, Weglo JK, Thornhill PG, Cecutti AG: Mortality of 11,500 nickel workers-extended follow up and relationship to environmental conditions. Toxicol Ind Health 7 (1991) 277-294
Sunderman FW Jr, Morgan LG, Andersen A, Ashley D, Forouhar FA: HistoPathology of sinunasal and lung cancers in nickel refinery workers. Ann Clin Lab Sci 19 (1989) 44-50
Verma DK, Julian JA, Roberts RS, Muir DC, Jadon N, Shaw DS: Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs): a possible cause of lung cancer mortality among nickel/copper smelter and refinery workers. Am Ind Hyg Assoc J 53 (1992) 317-324
Wirth W, Gloxhuber C: Toxikologie. Thieme, Stuttgart (1985)