Nickel - Ni
Nickel is silvery-white. hard, malleable, and ductile metal. It is of the iron group and it takes on a high polish. It is a fairly good conductor of heat and electricity. In its familiar compounds nickel is bivalent, although it assumes other valences. It also forms a number of complex compounds. Most nickel compounds are blue or green. Nickel dissolves slowly in dilute acids but, like iron, becomes passive when treated with nitric acid. Finely divided nickel adsorbs hydrogen.
The major use of nickel is in the preparation of alloys. Nickel alloys are characterized by strength, ductility, and resistance to corrosion and heat. About 65 % of the nickel consumed in the Western World is used to make stainless steel, whose composition can vary but is typically iron with around 18% chromium and 8% nickel. 12 % of all the nickel consumed goes into super alloys. The remaining 23% of consumption is divided between alloy steels, rechargeable batteries, catalysts and other chemicals, coinage, foundry products, and plating.
Nickel in the environment
Most nickel on Earth is inaccessible because it is locked away in the planet's iron-nickel molten core, which is 10 % nickel. The total amount of nickel dissolved in the sea has been calculated to be around 8 billion tons. Organic matter has a strong ability to absorb the metal which is why coal and oil contain considerable amounts. The nickel content in soil can be as low as 0.2 ppm or as high as 450 ppm in some clay and loamy soils. The average is around 20 ppm. Nickel occurs in some beans where it is an essential component of some enzymes. Another relatively rich source of nickel is tea which has 7.6 mg/kg of dried leaves.
Nickel is a compound that occurs in the environment only at very low levels. Humans use nickel for many different applications. The most common application of nickel is the use as an ingredient of steal and other metal products. It can be found in common metal products such as jewelry.
Foodstuffs naturally contain small amounts of nickel. Chocolate and fats are known to contain severely high quantities. Nickel uptake will boost when people eat large quantities of vegetables from polluted soils. Plants are known to accumulate nickel and as a result the nickel uptake from vegetables will be eminent. Smokers have a higher nickel uptake through their lungs. Finally, nickel can be found in detergents.
Nickel fumes are respiratory irritants and may cause pneumonitis. Exposure to nickel and its compounds may result in the development of a dermatitis known as “nickel itch” in sensitized individuals. The first symptom is usually itching, which occurs up to 7 days before skin eruption occurs. The primary skin eruption is erythematous, or follicular, which may be followed by skin ulceration. Nickel sensitivity, once acquired, appears to persist indefinitely.
Nickel is released into the air by power plants and trash incinerators. It will than settle to the ground or fall down after reactions with raindrops. It usually takes a long time for nickel to be removed from air. Nickel can also end up in surface water when it is a part of wastewater streams.
Now check out our page on nickel and water
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