HSE Update _ EH60 (Third edition)- Nickel and its inorganic compounds: health hazards and precautionary measures

Metallic nickel is primarily used in the manufacture of a wide range of alloys and consequently is associated with numerous industries and manufacturing processes.  Nickel and its compounds are also used in pigments for paint, pottery, glass and polymers and in the electroplating industry.  Annex 3 of the NHBC/EA/CIEH publication “Guidance for the safe development of housing on land by contamination R & D66: 2008 volume 2 appendices and annexes” provides a readily available quick reference to which industrial land uses may give rise to nickel contamination. The main health concerns relate to breathing in or having skin contact with various forms of nickel. Further information can be found in E60 which can be downloaded from the HSE website here.  It should be noted that this environmental hygiene guidance note draws attention to the possible health hazards which could result from occupational exposure to nickel and its inorganic compounds but does not contain the current workplace exposure limits (WELs) as the reader is directed to refer to EH40/2005 for up to date WELs.

Usefully for the wider environmental fate of nickel compounds this document includes as Table 1 a listing of the commonly used nickel compounds and whether they are considered soluble or insoluble. Whilst this update is very much related to occupational exposure it should be noted that in relation to long term human health the Environment Agency withdrew the SGV and associated reports for nickel in 2015 following in February 2015 the release of new information by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on the health risks from nickel. This led to LQM/CIEH producing an update to their published S4UL values (which is believed to still require manually downloading from the www.lqm.co.uk  website even if your copy of the book was purchased post the update).