This paper provides guidance on the assessment, evaluation and control of occupational exposure to nickel and its commonly encountered compounds.
This paper was compiled to give guidance on the assessment, evaluation and control of occupational exposure to nickel and its commonly encountered compounds, with an emphasis on recommending a health‐based occupational exposure limit (OEL). The current Safe Work Australia (SWA) workplace exposure standards (WES) and current international OELs are discussed and the possible health effects examined.
Nickel compounds have long been recognised as causing cancers of the lung, nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses, and of being a sensitiser. In 2012, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified nickel compounds as being carcinogenic to humans (Group 1) and metallic nickel as possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B).
The AIOH regards respiratory cancer (lung and nasal) as the main adverse health effect to derive an OEL recommendation. The TWA OEL for nickel (including both readily soluble and sparingly soluble (insoluble) compounds) recommended by the AIOH is 0.1 mg/m3, to be measured as the inhalable aerosol fraction according to AS 3640. This standard is set to minimise the incidence of lung and nasal cancer.
Recent research undertaken by the UK HSE has demonstrated the value of using urinary nickel as a measure of control effectiveness for workplaces where skin contamination, hence inadvertent hand mouth contact and ingestion, may be an issue (i.e. electroplating).
AIOH Exposure Standards Committee
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