Exposure to soluble nickel in electrolytic nickel refining

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Abstract

Past and present exposure to nickel was studied in an electrolytic nickel refinery, where an increased incidence of nasal cancer had been reported, using nickel-analyses in air, blood and urine. Genotoxic effects were studied using analysis of micronuclei from acridine orange-stained smears from the buccal mucosa of the workers. Workers used respirators or masks in tasks where the exposure was expected to be high. Inside the mask, nickel concentrations were 0.9-2.4 μgm-3 in such tasks. In those tasks where masks were not used, nickel concentrations in the breathing zone were 1.3-21 μgm-3. Air-borne nickel concentrations (stationary sampling) varied between 230 and 800 μgm(-3) in 1966-1988 with no systematic change; thereafter lower concentrations (170-460 μgm(-3)) have been observed. After-shift urinary concentrations of nickel were 0.1-2 μmol.-1., they showed no correlation with nickel concentrations in the air. Concentrations of nickel in the urine were still elevated after a 2-4 week vacation. The frequency of micronucleated epithelial cells in the buccal mucosa of nickel refinery workers was not significantly elevated by comparison with referents. No relationship was observed between micronucleus frequencies and levels of nickel in air, urine or blood.

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Kiilunen, M., Utela, J., Rantanen, T., Norppa, H., Tossavainen, A., Koponen, M., … Aitio, A. (1997). Exposure to soluble nickel in electrolytic nickel refining. Annals of Occupational Hygiene, 41(2), 167–173. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0003-4878(96)00032-4

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