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TOXICOLOGY OF NICKEL
Lyndsey Overlin
Basic Chemical Properties of Nickel
 This metal doesn’t
oxidize very quickly
 There are a few
common oxidation
states
 +2 Ni, +1 Ni, and +3 Ni
 The most common:+2
Ni
Basic Physical Properties of Nickel
 It conducts heat and
electricity fairly well
 It’s magnetic
 There are 14 known
isotopes, 5 naturally
occurring of Nickel
 Ni 58 (68.27%)
 Ni 60 (26.10%)
 Ni 61 (1.1%)
 Ni 62(3.6%)
 Ni 64 (0.9%)
Chemical Properties (cont.)
 There are also 6 major
radioactive isotopes of
which Ni 59 and Ni 63
have the most
prevalent half-life
 Ni 59: 75 000 years
(captures electrons)
 Ni 63: 96 years (emits
beta particle)
Origin and History of Nickel Use
 Nickel was used as an alloying metal almost 2000 years





before is it officially discovered
200 B.C.E the Chinese used Copper ore for manufacturing
It was from this copper ore that Nickel was eventually
isolated
Discovered in 1751 by Axel Fredrik Cronstedt
By 1844 the demand for Nickel had significantly increased
It is thought that Nickel came from an ancient meteor
impact creating Ore
 Estimated Crustal Abundance: 8.4×101 milligrams per
kilogram
 Estimated Oceanic Abundance: 5.6×10-4 milligrams per liter
Uses and Applications
 Nickel is manufactured
for use in products
such as:
 Alloys
 Steel Manufacturing
 Electroplating
 Batteries
 Electronics
 Other chemical uses
How does it get into the Aquatic Environment?
 Sediment
 Insoluble forms with silicates and sulfides as well as
soluble forms (run-off )
 Atmosphere
 Mainly from the burning of fossil fuels which emits oxides,
sulfides, silicates, as well as many soluble forms
(particulates in rain water)
 Water
 Leaching from rocks
Once Nickel is in the Aquatic Environment…
 Deep water concentrations




range from 0.1 to 0.5 ppb Ni,
whereas surface water
contains 15–20 ppb
Divalent Nickel is the most
common form within this
environment
How Ni toxicity and water
chemistry interact is not well
understood.
Enhances microbial growth at
LOW concentrations
It typically occurs as soluble
salts absorbed in sediments,
organic matter, or by biota
Van Baalen and O’Donnell, 1978
Toxicity to Aquatic Life?
 Some suggest it is
essential in some
concentrations
 Higher concentrations
result in variable effects
on marine life
 Life expectancy is
significantly altered for
Daphnia at 40 ppb
 LD50 for marine lobsters
is between 150-300 ppm
 Variable in fish species
Toxic Effects
 Humans:
 Lung and nasal cancers when inhaled
 Nickel dermatitis
 Carcinogenic
 Animals:
 Lung tumors
 Impaired immune systems
 Decreased number of live pups, increased pup mortality
 Sperm abnormalities
 STUDIES OF EFFECTS ON AQUATIC BIOTA ARE
LIMITED TO PHYTOPLANKTON AND
CYANOBACTERIA!!
Mode of Entry
 The majority of cyanobacteria and phytoplankton studied within the
aquatic environments require Nickel for:
 Urease ((NH2)2CO +2H20 →H2CO3 + 2NH3)
 Hydrogenase ((2H+ 2e-
H+ + H- H2)
 However, comparison of BCF’s (bioconcentration factor) and BSAF’s
(biosediment accumulation factors) in various aquatic organisms
shows a different story
 Also, the higher the solubility of Nickel, the higher the nickel uptake of
various organisms
 Based on this it is more likely that Nickel is taken up through pore water
within sediments instead of ingestion
 Nickel that is onsiluble enter cells through phagocytosis and enter into
the cell in vacuoles. These vacuoles are acidified which causes the
nickel to become soluble.
 Once in the nucleus, heterochromatin areas in the long arm of the X
chromosome is damaged as Ni 2+ replaces Mg 2+.
Molecular Mode of Toxic Interaction
 It has been shown that a low levels, Nickel is actually a
requirement for many organisms
 However, once a threshold is reached, Ni can cause
variable damage in organisms
 In plants: Increase levels of Nickel can result in decreasing
chlorophyll contents and leaf photosynthetic activities
through impairing permeability of membranes to other
essential elements such as Iron.
 In other organisms: Suppression of the uptake of Zn,
Cu, Fe, Mn, Ca, Mg, and S
 As these are suppressed by Nickel, parts of DNA can
be silenced (not mutated) leading to cancer
Biochemical Metabolism and Breakdown
 In order to better understand these processes, much
research has been done on tissue accumulation of
Nickel on various organisms
 Crayfish tend to have higher concentrations in the gills and
the digestive gut when exposed to high levels of Nickel. It
was discovered that they go through a 2 week active uptake
process and then a 2 week active excretion process (which
isn’t correlated with the organs)
 When looking at Catfish, concentrations of Nickel were as
follows: kidney>liver>gill>intestine. From this it was
inferred that fish are actively breaking down nickel
through chloride cells in the kidney
Sediments
5X
blank
1A
1B
1C
2
3
Ni
2333
28592
37262
34858
34739
16901
Rh
530789
547591
516052
531160
590330
548859
Internal Standard
Correction
2686
31901
44115
40096
35953
18813
4
5
6
7
8
47760
86965
43011
40653
37027
542499
510420
524010
545112
551353
53788
104097
50149
45565
41031
15.87066663990
30.78916366557
14.79129708028
13.43208193486
12.08755090761
468952
138.98426199890
Concentration
16.00494434
0.400588745
0.685692165
1.372948467
0.545107968
2.93543875
0.888736356
1.208402351
CRM 5x
Ni
396677.4 516807.6
Concentration
0.71651374180
9.38024335397
13.00222645608
11.81025521444
10.58184573468
5.49899272880
Blank Correction
Ratio
Dilution
8.66372961217
12.28571271428
11.09374147264
9.86533199288
4.78247898700
0.47555
0.554367
0.430928
0.513765
0.443503
4.554587
5.540421
6.435965
4.800512
2.695854
15.15415289810
30.07264992377
14.07478333848
12.71556819306
11.37103716581
0.341452
0.40096
0.50839
0.467183
0.604947
11.09537
18.75042
6.921253
6.804379
4.699189
Blank Correction
Ratio
0.069482
Dilution
115.1736
0.053638
0.052547
0.051819
0.057541
0.06097
0.062778
6.391807
13.06404
5.259712
25.50721
7.288281
9.62435
Tissues
10X
1
2
Ni
49936
1552
Rh
562479
585311
Internal Standard Curve
Correction
54241.1833
1620.175367
4
5
6
7
7
8
2525
4707
2024
9701
3030
4178
597484
587049
586822
582876
566838
587588
2581.601117
4899.166822
2107.52309
10168.19655
3266.306739
4344.284408
Colorado Lagoon
Our values we obtained for Nickel in the Colorado Lagoon
were nowhere near the thresholds that have been set forth
by the EPA
2. Hydrology and Water Quality reports on the Lagoon do
not define Nickel to be one of the primary metals for
concern
ERL ERM BPTCP CL-West CL-East CL-1 CL-2 Cl-3
Nickel 21 51.6
34
36
32
18 14 8.9
1.
mg/kg (dry)
Concentrations that are underlined indicate ERM exceedences
References
Argonne National Laboratory. (2005). “Nickel: Human Health Fact Sheet”. Environmental
Science Division. 1-2
Alikhan, M.A., Bagatto, G., and Zia, S. 1990. The crayfish as a “biological indicator” of
aquatic contamination by heavy metals. Water Res. 24: 1069–1076.
Azeez, P.A., and Banerjee, D.K. 1991. Nickel uptake and toxicity in cyanobacteria. Toxicol.
Environmental Chemistry 30: 43–50.
Costa, Max; Davidson, Todd L.; Chen, Haobin; Ke, Quingdong; Zhang, Ping; Yan,
Yan; Huang, Chuanshu; and Kluz, Thomas. (2005). “Nickel carcinogenesis:
Epigenetics and hypoxia signaling”. Mutation Research/Fundamental and
Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis. 592(1-2) 79-88.
Denkhaus, E. and Salnikow, K. (2002). “Nickel essentiality, toxicity, and carcinogenicity”.
Critical Reviews in Oncology/Hematology. V42:35-56
Eco-SSL. (2007). “Ecological Soil Screening Levels for Nickel”. U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency. OSWER Directive 92857.7-76. 1-133.
Eskew, D.L., Welch, R.M., and Cary, E.E. 1983. Nickel, an essential element for legumes and
possibly all higher plants. Science (Washington), 222: 621–623.
Gikas, Petros. (2008). “Single and combined effects of nickel (Ni(II)) and cobalt
(Co(II)) on activated sludge and on other aerobic microorganisms”. Journal
of Hazardous Materials. 159:187-203.
References (continued)
Kozlova, Tatianna; Wood, Chris M.; and McGeer, James C. (2009). “The effect of water
chemistry on the acute toxicity of nickel to the cladoceran Daphnia pulex and the
development of a biotic ligand model”. Aquatic Toxicology. 91:221-228.
Munzinger, Armin. (1990). “Effect of nickel on daphnia magna during chronic exposure and
alterations in the toxicity to generations pre-exposed to nickel”. Water Research. 24: 845-852.
Muyssen, B.T.A; Brix, K.V.; DeForest, D.K.; and Janssen, C.R. (2004). “Nickel essentiality and
homeostasis in aquatic organisms”. Environmental Reviews. 12:113-131.
Oller, Adriana R. (2002). “Respiratory Carcinogenicity Assessment of Soluble Nickel Compounds”.
Environmental Heal Perspectives Supplements. 110 (5).
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (1999). Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) on
Nickel, Soluble Salts. National Center for Environmental Assessment, Office of Research and
Development, Washington, DC.
Van Baalen, C. and O’Donnell, R. (1978). “Isolation of a nickel dependent blue-green alga”. Journal
of General Microbiology. 105:351-353
Yang, X.; Baligar, V.C.; Martens, D.C., and Clark, R.B. (1996). “Plant Tolerance to Nickel Toxicity: II
Nickel Effect on Influx and Transport of Mineral Nutrients in Four Plant Species”. Journal of
Plant Nutrition. 19:265-279.

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