Nickel Poisoning


The Facts

Nickel belongs to the ferromagnetic elements, and it is naturally present in the Earth crust usually in combination with oxygen and sulfur as oxides and sulfides.

Nickel is an element extensively found in the environment, air, water, and soil. It may derive from natural sources and anthropogenic activity. Environmental pollution from nickel may be due to industry, the use of liquid and solid fuels, as well as municipal and industrial waste.

About eight billion tons of nickel are in the sea.

Sources of Nickel

Interestingly, vegetables usually contain more nickel than do other food items; high levels of nickel have been found in legumes, spinach, lettuce and nuts. Certain products, such as baking powder and cocoa powder, have also been found to contain excessive amounts of nickel, perhaps related to nickel leaching during the manufacturing process. Soft drinking-water and acid beverages may dissolve nickel from pipes and containers. More specifically:

  • Some eye cosmetics
  • Canned foods such as tuna (the nickel leaches from the can into the food)
  • Broccoli and chocolate, nickel-rich foods
  • Alkaline batteries
  • Jewellery
  • Cell phones
  • Bra clasps, snaps, zippers and metal buttons
  • Paper clips
  • Eyeglass frames

Health effects of exposure to nickel

Nickel generates multiple reactions in the human immune system in a diverse fashion [i]. Experimental works have proven that nickel is an immunomodulatory and immunotoxic agent. It has been reported that nickel contact caused allergic dermatitis and immunologic urticarial; hence, nickel can be marked as both immune sensitive as well as an allergen.

Nickel contact can cause a variety of side effects on human health, such as

  • allergy
  • cardiovascular diseases
  • kidney diseases,
  • lung fibrosis,
  • lung and nasal cancer

Although the molecular mechanisms of nickel-induced toxicity are not yet clear, mitochondrial dysfunctions and oxidative stress are thought to have a primary and crucial role in the toxicity of this metal.

Testing and treatment

Contact us today to find out more on how to test for nickel exposure and the treatment available for removing nickel and other heavy metals from your body.

[i] Nielsen FH. Possible future implications of nickel, arsenic, silicon, vanadium and other ultra trace elements in human nutrition. In: Prasad AS, editor. Clinical and biochemical nutritional aspects of trace elements. New York, NY, USA: Alan R. Liss Inc, 1982:379–404