Nickel is a potential cause of occupational asthma, where it can be inhaled. This happens when electroplating and welding stainless steel.
Several studies report positive specific inhalation challenge tests using nebulised nickel chloride at 0.1-10 mg/ml and nickel sulphate at 10 mg/ml.
Several studies report the use of skin prick tests using Nickel Sulphate at 10 mg/ml in patients with confirmed occupational asthma to Nickel. These are positive in some patients and negative in others.
Specific IgE tests are also possible using nickel-conjugated human serum albumin (Ni-HSA), and nickel-conjugated exchange resin (Ni-resin) and NiSO4-human serum albumin. These are positive in some patients with confirmed occupational asthma to Nickel but negative in others, suggestive that in at least some cases the asthma is IgE mediated.
Occupational asthma to Nickel can occur within the current exposure standards and there may be cross reactivity with chrome and cobalt.
Preventative measures include extraction and respiratory protective equipment (RPE). Workers not directly exposed can be protected by enclosing areas where the Nickel fume is produced.
Nickel Carbonyl can cause acute pneumonitis, nickel and nickel alloys are possible human carcinogens; nickel compounds are known human carcinogens.
The Oasys Audit scheme started midway through 2010 and collects agents typed in through the Oasys program. The years before 2010 show old data entered during 2010 or later and are likely to have many fewer notifications. We expect Oasys to become more widely adopted as time goes by so increasing notifications does not necessarily mean an increasing problem.