Ni, Nickel och nickelföreningar, som Ni
Nickel and compounds
Nickel is a silver coloured transition metal with magnetic properties that is a solid at room temperature and that has very strong anti-corrosion properties. This description refers to nickel and nickel compounds.
Because of its anti-corrosion properties, nickel is foremost used as an alloying agent.1 The majority of nickel is used in production of stainless steel, but also in production of alloys that are able to resist high temperatures and that are used in jet engines, rockets or gas turbines. Other application areas include rechargeable batteries, catalysts, jewellery and coins.2 3 4
Sources and transportation pathways
Nickel occurs naturally in the bedrock, ground and water. In the ground, it is often bound to organic material. Nickel is extracted from minerals, and workable nickel ores are spread throughout the earth’s surface. Nickel may also be recycled by extraction from scrap metal and used products.
The largest source of nickel emissions to water in Sweden are wastewater treatment plants and pulp and paper plants. Emissions to air is lower and arise primarily from production of pulp and paper and production and processing of metals. Emissions in Sweden constitute only a small part of the European emissions. Deposition from long-range transport is low. Measurements in moss show that the average nickel concentration has decreased since 1975.5
Effects on environment and health
Small amounts of nickel are needed for normal growth and development in certain plants and animals. High concentrations in the ground is poisonous and may affect the microbial activity and lead to reduced growth and production.6
The general population is exposed to nickel via the respiratory tract, through food and through direct contact with nickel-containing objects. A common reaction to nickel is contact dermatitis, which is more common in women than in men. Symptoms of nickel allergy includes rashes or eczema. Long-term exposure may cause rhinitis, asthma or cancer of the sinuses and lungs.7 8
International agreements and regulations
Nickel is regulated by the UN Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP) and the EU Nickel Directive (2004/96/EC), EU Air Quality Directive (2008/50/EC), the EU Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC), the EU Drinking Water Directive (98/83/EC), the EU Sewage Sludge Directive (86/278/EEC) and the EU Regulation on setting maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs (EC 1881/2006). Limit values for nickel in drinking water is also regulated in the provision of the Swedish National Food Agency. 9 In addition, the presence of nickel in products is regulated in different EU directives and regulations, such as REACH. The UN Protocol on PRTRs and the EU E-PRTR regulation regulate how data on nickel emissions is made available.
6 Ahmad, M. S. A. och Ashraf, M. 2011. Essential roles and hazardous effects of nickel in plants. Review Environmental Contamination and Toxicology.214: 125-167.
8Estlander, T. Kanervo, L., Tupasela, O. Keskiner, H. och Jolank, R. 1993. Immediate and delayed allergy to nickel with contact urticaria, rhinitis, asthma and contact dermatitis. Clinical and experimental allergy, 23(4): 306-310.