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Identifying Occupational Exposure Risks to Nickel and Other Elements

EMSL Analytical provides industrial hygiene and environmental laboratory testing services, sampling supplies, air monitoring instruments and personal protective equipment to identify exposure hazards.

Cinnaminson, NJ – WEBWIRE

Nickel is a naturally occurring element and millions of tons of it are mined each year across the globe. Pure nickel is a hard, silvery-white metal used to make stainless steel and other metal alloys. These alloys are used to make coins, jewelry, jet engines and many other items. Nickel can also be combined with other elements to form nickel compounds. These compounds are used for nickel plating, to color ceramics, to make some batteries and as catalysts.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), workers may be harmed from exposure to nickel with the level of exposure depending upon the dose, duration and work being done. Some examples of workers NIOSH lists that are potentially at risk include:

  • Refinery workers in nickel processing plants
  • Jewelry, welding and fabrication workers who come in contact with nickel coins or jewelry
  • Factory workers in plants where nickel alloys are used
  • Workers who come in contact with tools and other nickel releasing surfaces

Anyone can be exposed to nickel by dust inhalation, skin contact or by consuming food or water that contains high levels of nickel. A common health effect of nickel exposure is an allergic reaction and approximately 10-20% of the population are sensitive to nickel according to the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR). The most common reaction is a skin rash at the site of contact, but the skin rash may also occur at a site away from the site of contact. Less frequently, some people who are sensitive to nickel have asthma attacks following exposure. ATSDR also shares the fact that workers in nickel refineries or nickel-processing facilities have experienced chronic bronchitis and reduced lung function by breathing elevated levels of nickel containing dust.

“Cancers of the lung and nasal passages have resulted from workers breathing high levels nickel containing dust while working in nickel processing facilities,” said Joe Frasca, Senior Vice President of Marketing at EMSL Analytical, Inc. “The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has determined that nickel metal may reasonably be anticipated to be a carcinogen and that nickel compounds are known human carcinogens. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has determined that some nickel compounds are carcinogenic to humans and that metallic nickel may possibly be carcinogenic. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that nickel refinery dust and nickel sulfide are human carcinogens. Fortunately, in the U.S., there are exposure limits meant to help protect workers and the public from elevated levels of nickel in the air, soil and water.”

With laboratories across North America, the industrial hygiene and environmental testing scientists at EMSL offer laboratory testing services, sampling supplies, air monitoring instruments and personal protective equipment (PPE). They have even sponsored an educational video about nickel and potential exposure risks that can be seen at:

To learn more about this or other industrial hygiene, air quality, environmental, health and safety testing services, sampling supplies and products, please visit, call (800)220-3675 or email .

About EMSL Analytical, Inc.
EMSL Analytical is one of the leading testing laboratories throughout the United States and Canada. EMSL is a nationally recognized and locally focused provider specializing in fast laboratory results for mold, bacteria, Legionella, USP 797, pathogens, asbestos, lead, soot, char & ash from fires, VOC’s, odors, radon, formaldehyde, indoor air quality, microbiology, environmental, industrial hygiene, radiological, food, beverage & consumer products and material testing services for the identification of unknown substances. EMSL services both professionals and the general public. EMSL maintains an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations as well as state and federal regulating bodies including, but not limited to A2LA, AIHA-LAP, LLC (AIHA-LAP, LLC EMLAP, AIHA-LAP, LLC IHLAP, AIHA-LAP, LLC ELLAP), NVLAP, CDC ELITE, CPSC, CA ELAP, NY ELAP, TX DOH, NJDEP and multiple other state accrediting agencies. Please visit our website at for a complete listing of accreditations. In addition, EMSL carries a wide range of Sampling Equipment and Investigative Products for environmental professionals.

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 Occupational Health
 Allergic Reaction
 Nickel Refinery
 Nickel Sulfide

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