Nickel is a silvery-white lustrous metal that belongs to the transition metals. It is a hard, ductile metal that can be shaped into useful shapes.
It is used in alloys, lubricants, and as a pigment in ceramic glazes. It is also used in high-speed cutting tools, aircraft parts, and forged automobile parts.
In the chemical industry, nickel is used to make fuel cells and other chemicals. It is also a common element in glass to give it a green color.
The most important nickel ores are molybdenite (molybdenum disulfide) and wulfenite (a lead molybdate). Other useful compounds of nickel include ammonium molybdate, which is used in chemical analysis for phosphates; lead molybdate, which is used as a pigment in ceramic glazes; and molybdenum tungstate, a dry lubricant for space vehicles.
Nickel can be made by heating nickel sulfide in air or with a chemical process. The reaction is accompanied by the formation of nickel oxide, which is commonly used as a corrosion preventive in nickel-based alloys.
Exposure to nickel in the workplace can cause skin irritation and asthma-like allergies. It can also lead to health problems such as heart disease, kidney damage, and neurological disorders.
Occupational nickel exposures can be associated with chromosomal aberrations and sister chromatid exchanges in peripheral lymphocytes of workers. These effects may be mediated by DNA methylation and chromatin condensation.
We evaluated the effects of nickel subsulfide and nickel oxide on chromosomal aberrations and genetic mutations in peripheral lymphocytes of retired nickel refinery workers 4-15 years after retirement. We compared these effects with controls with no previous occupational exposure to nickel.