CAW National Council 4000
Occupational Health and Safety

Hazardous Substances:  Nickel

Nickel can create ill-health effects when it comes in contact with the eyes or skin and if it is inhaled or swallowed.

Short-Term Effects

Nickel fumes are respiratory irritants and may cause pneumonitis. Skin contact may cause an allergic skin rash. Nickel itself is not
very toxic if swallowed, but its soluble salts are quite toxic and, if swallowed, may cause giddiness and nausea. Exposure to nickel
carbonyl (by inhalation or skin absorption) may cause both initial and delayed symptoms. Initial symptoms include headache,
dizziness, shortness of breath, and vomiting. These symptoms generally disappear when the worker is exposed to fresh air. The
delayed symptoms may develop 12 to 36 hours after exposure. The shortness of breath returns, a blue colour of the skin may
appear, and a fever may develop. The exposed person may become delirious. In some cases the symptoms may run together.
Death may occur.

Long-Term Effects

Nickel sensitivity has long-term effects in as much as the worker can never be exposed to nickel again without the dermatitis (skin
irritation) recurring. This can have an effect on his/her social life since nickel is contained in many metallic compounds such as
watches and watch straps, buckles, pins, coins and various metals around the house.

Nickel is an occupational carcinogen causing cancer of the paranasal sinuses and lung cancer.


All carcinogens should be eliminated from the workplace wherever possible as even minute amounts can initiate the uncontrollable
growth of abnormal cells.

Enclose process
Local exhaust ventilation
Personal protective equipment


ACGIH TLV 1mg/m3, to be changed to 0.05 mg/m3
U.S. NIOSH recommendation 0.015mg/m3.

Source:  CAW Health, Safety & Environment Department