Nickel in particulate matter

Ein rauchender Schornstein vor bewölktem Himmel.Click to enlarge
Nickel is emitted by power plants or industrial processes.
Source: jzehnder /

Nickel belongs to the heavy metals and usually occurs bound to other substances. In ambient air arsenic is measured bound to particulate matter.

Table of Contents


Emission sources

Nickel is mainly emitted by combustion processes – e.g. by the petroleum processing, but also by the combustion of fossil fuels at traffic or in power plants. Another important source is the metal industry


Health risks

Nickel is mainly obtained from food although it can hardly be resorbed by the gastrointestinal tract. Occupational inhaling of nickel vapors may cause a degeneration of the nasal mucosa, asthma and pneumoconiosis. But for the general population Nickel is known to be a contact allergen. Nickel compounds are classified to be cancerogenic, metallic Nickel is probably cancerogenic.


Air quality standards

There is an Europe-wide target value of 20 ng/m³ as annual mean that is valid since 1 January 2013.


Air pollution

Since 2007 the target value was exceeded 15 times at four stations close to industry. At one station the concentration of 93 ng/m³ was high above the target value. The average concentration in urban and rural areas is about 2 µg/m³. Higher values are measured close to industry (between 4 and 10 ng/m³ in average). Lowest concentrations are measured at the very remote stations of the Environment Agency (1 ng/m³). Compared to other European countries, the nickel pollution in Germany is moderate.

Nickel in particulate matter - annual mean values 2007 - 2019
Nickel in particulate matter - annual mean values 2007 - 2019
Source: Umweltbundesamt II 4.2 mit Daten der Messnetze der Länder und des Bundes

Nickel in particulate matter - Annual tabulation

Here the annual tabulations from 2007 onwards can be found (station-by-station).