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Epidemiological studies on workers in the past are complicated by the lack of good exposure measurements of total nickel in the workplace, by the lack of speciation, and by the lack of information on co-exposures to other carcinogens, including tobacco smoking. Nevertheless, these studies have shown a connection between specific nickel compounds (and their concentrations inhaled) and the formation of respiratory tumours. No other forms of cancer have been consistently linked to "nickel" exposure
1) the excess respiratory cancer risk in certain nickel-refining operations was associated with exposure to a mixture of nickel subsulphide and nickel oxide (high temperature form) at relatively high concentrations (>= 10 mg Ni/m3). (This high exposure should be compared with the current TLV of 0.1 mg Ni, as inhalable Ni3S2/m3 and 0.2 mg Ni, as inhalable NiO(h.t.)/m3).
(2) excess lung and nasal/sinus cancers at Canadian "sinter" operations** and at Clydach prior to 1930 were associated with high cumulative exposures to nickel subsulphide.
(3) excess lung and nasal/sinus cancers at Clydach (Wales) and Kristiansand (Norway) nickel refineries were associated with exposures to high concentrations of oxidic nickel (copper-nickel oxides as well as forms of nickel monoxide).
(4) exposure to elemental nickel and/or to nickel oxides free of copper, in the absence of nickel subsulphide exposure, showed no elevated risk of respiratory cancer.
(5) workers exposed to lateritic (nickel silicates and complex nickel oxides containing virtually no Cu) processing showed no excess cancer risk
Many chemical agents, including nickel, can cause allergic contact dermatitis (ACD) which results in inflammation of areas of the skin in sensitized individuals.
Elemental nickel and sweat-soluble nickel salts both cause ACD by sweat solubilization (corrosion) of nickel and the formation of nickel ions, during intimate and prolonged contact with the skin. The rate of nickel ion release to the skin is dependent primarily on the specific substance having contact with the skin. Non-occupational contact with nickel in Europe, primarily through nickel-plated clothing fasteners and jewellery in pierced ears, has reportedly sensitized about 5-15% of females and about 0.5-1% of males.
the human body contains about 1o mg of niccolum, it is important for the activation of several enzymes and hormones and for the metabolism of carbohydrates.
Once in the body, nickel can replace metals in metallo-enzymes and cause disruption of metabolic pathways .
High levels of nickel have adverse effects on the heart, blood and kidneys. If it is inhaled the metal is also carcinogenic. Chronic skin exposure causes skin allergy reactions, and may also be carcinogenic.
Nickel is likely to be a lung and a nasal carcinogen. Studies have shown that occupational inhalation of poorly water-soluble nickel compounds, such as nickel subsulphide and nickel oxide is associated with an increased risk of lung cancer. Lifelong exposure to nickel in the air is carcinogenic; it has been estimated that if there is 1 microgram of nickel refinery dust per cubic metre of air, in a population of 1000 people there would be 2.4 additional cases of cancer.
The most toxic of nickel compounds is nickel carbonyl, a very volatile liquid at room temperature, which is known to be a lung carcinogen when inhaled. Sunderman and Sunderman Jr., in a study quoted in reference, studied cigarette smoke, and express the opinion that there is sufficient nickel in cigarettes to produce nickel carbonyl in quantities which could be responsible for the production of lung cancer in smokers. However, this conjecture has not yet been proven.