Nickel Dust Collection

Reducing the Risk of Nickel Dust Exposure

Nickel is widely used in manufacturing and appears in many common products. The silvery metal is a key component of many alloys, including stainless steel. Its resistance to corrosion makes it an ideal addition to alloys, as well as a plating substance. Nickel is also used in many batteries. In 2015, 148,000 tons of nickel were consumed as primary metal in the United States, and almost 102,000 tons were recovered from scrap. That is a lot of nickel changing hands and being worked with. Hopefully it was done safely, since researchers have determined that exposure to nickel carries risks for workers.


Exposure Risks for Nickel Dust

Nickel produces a string of harmful health effects, even at low exposures. When inhaled, initial symptoms include cough and shortness of breath. Effects from physical contact are particularly common, since 10-20% of the population has proven to be sensitive to nickel. The most common of these effects is skin rash.

Nickel’s most serious risks come from inhaling dusts of certain nickel compounds. Nickel refineries and processing plants have seen the worst of these cases. Exposure can lead to chronic bronchitis and reduced lung function. Other documented effects are cancers of the lung and of the nasal sinus.

In addition to these serious health risks, nickel dust is also combustible. Combined with oxygen in the right proportion, nickel dust can explode if it comes into contact with an ignition source. Dust explosions cause many injuries and deaths every year, in addition to property damage.

Regulations for Nickel Dust

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published around 500 permissible exposure limits (PEL) for different substances, and nickel is on that list. A PEL limits the amount of a substance a worker can be exposed to as averaged over an 8-hour shift. OSHA’s PEL for nickel is 1.0 mg/m3.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), an agency of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommends a tighter standard: a PEL of 0.015 mg/m3 as averaged over a 10-hour shift. The agency also recommends that nickel be considered an occupational carcinogen. These are merely recommendations, at this point, and have no legal power. They do, however, serve as extra warnings about worker safety.

Compliance with OSHA standards is sometimes challenging, but methods exist to make it affordable. Workers’ lives are often at stake. Compliance is also important for avoiding serious fines and legal troubles.

Solutions for Nickel Dust

RoboVent has almost three decades of experience mitigating the worst fume and dust challenges in manufacturing. Our engineers design and implement solutions to fit every need while hitting every budget. We manufacture our own equipment, as well, ensuring the highest standards and performance.

A facility that handles nickel needs a powerful solution, such as a dust collector in RoboVent’s Fusion Series. These collectors use proprietary filters and blowers to clean the air and return it to the facility, avoiding the need for external exhaust. Collectors are designed to use less energy than their competitors and to be easy to set up and maintain. Options such as the Delta3 Spark Arrestor make the systems even more effective, protecting facilities from fires and explosions, killing sparks before they can cause problems.

RoboVent’s VentMapping process is also available to help optimize dust capture. If a facility’s layout is complex or its dust production is irregular, this process lets our engineers use computer modeling to propose a custom solution. VentMapping produces the most effective solution at the most optimal price.

Clean air and employee happiness is more important than ever. RoboVent is passionate about producing the best possible air quality solutions for the manufacturing sector, knowing that they will keep workers safe while keeping productivity levels high in your facility. We stand by our equipment with the best service and warranties in the industry.