Exposure Limits

If proper precautions are taken, occupational exposures to nickel, its compounds, and alloys can be adequately controlled.

Information on current workplace exposures suggests that, in general, they are significantly below the levels that were predominantly observed to be associated with excess respiratory cancers in the past – namely >10 mg Ni/m3 for less soluble nickel compounds (notably, sulfidic and oxidic nickel) and >1 mg Ni/m3 for soluble compounds (ICNCM, 1990).

Although the mechanism of nickel carcinogenicity is still unknown and the precise health risks, if any, of exposures to low levels of nickel are uncertain, governmental authorities have adopted recommended or mandated maximum exposure levels designed to protect the worker adequately.

These Occupational Exposure Limits (OELs) apply to a typical worker whose shift operates eight hours per day, five days per week. In addition to the eight-hour, time-weighted average (TWA), several countries have limits or guidelines for short-term exposures as well. Some countries allow exposures up to a specified concentration for a short time period; others specify “ceiling” concentrations that should never be exceeded. A number of standards apply to specialized operations. Some OELs are strictly health- based; others may take both health and feasibility into consideration. Occupational exposure limits for selected countries are provided in Table 9-1. Employers operating in jurisdictions which have not adopted an OEL for nickel may wish to consider the OELs that have been adopted elsewhere.

  1. Exposure Limits: Australia
  2. Exposure Limits: Canada
  3. Exposure Limits: The European Union (EU)
  4. Exposure Limits: Japan
  5. Exposure Limits: United States (U.S.)
  6. Biological Limit Values