Human Nickel Exposure in an Area Polluted by Nickel Refining: The Sør-Varanger Study

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ABSTRACT.Sør-Varanger municipality in northern Norway is located close to two Russian nickel refineries that cause nickel and sulfur dioxide pollution. To investigate individual nickel exposure and possible health effects from the pollution, the authors invited all adults who were 18-69 y of age to a health survey in 1994. Urine samples were collected from 3 671 participants(participation rate = 59.4%), and nickel concentrations were determined for 902 of them. Mean and median nickel concentrations were 0.9 µg/l and 0.6 µg/l, respectively. Individuals who lived in the rural areas closest to the refineries had lower nickel concentrations than individuals who lived in the more urban areas. Independent risk factors for nickel concentrations in urine were (a) being an urban dweller and (b) living close to areas with high-density traffic. The authors concluded that nickel exposure attributable to air pollution from Russian refineries was of minor importance for people who lived in Sør-Varanger.

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