What is Nickel?
Nickel is a silvery-white metal found in the Earth’s crust. People can be exposed to nickel in a number of natural ways, including after it bursts through the ground’s surface (such as during volcanic eruptions). After an eruption, for instance, the wind can carry the metal’s ash for hundreds of thousands of miles. As a result of this and other natural processes, the public is exposed to small amounts of nickel in the air, water, and food they encounter every day.
Low levels of nickel are also released into the air by tobacco smoke. However, most toxic nickel exposures happen while at work. Consequently, workers in nickel industries, stainless steel manufacturing, iron mills, and industrial machinery and equipment repair have the highest risk of nickel-caused long-term health problems.
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Does Nickel Exposure Cause Mesothelioma?
Yes. Exposure to airborne nickel dust and fumes has resulted in lung and nasal cancers in some workers. The exact mechanism that causes nickel particles to change cells is not yet known, but alterations to cells’ DNA have been observed. That said, there is no definitive evidence that nickel exposure causes any form of mesothelioma. It is a factor that can elevate one’s risk of developing mesothelioma
The latency period between the time of exposure and the development of nickel-related symptoms of cancer is between 13 and 24 years. Symptoms of lung cancer include:
- Chest pain
- Cough that doesn’t go away for at least eight weeks
- Cough that gets worse
- Loss of appetite
- Recurrent respiratory infections
- Shortness of breath
- Unexplained weight loss
Occupational Exposure to Nickel
Nickel is mixed into other metals to add strength, hardness, heat-resistance, and anti-corrosive capabilities. Subsequently, occupational exposure to nickel largely affects people employed in the nickel mining and metal refining and manufacturing industries.
Millions of workers around the world each year suffer toxic nickel exposure and exposure to airborne nickel compounds. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the at-risk workers include those in:
- Alkaline battery manufacturing
- Architectural and structural metals manufacturing
- Boiler, tank, and shipping manufacturing
- Coating, shaving, heat treating, and related activities
- Electroplating and electrowinning
- Industrial machinery and equipment repair/maintenance
- Iron mills and ferro-alloy manufacturing
- Metal welding, grinding, and cutting
- Nickel mining and manufacturing
- Specialty trade contractors
- Stainless steel manufacturing
In most cases, when a person is exposed to airborne nickel – without protection covering their mouth and nose – the particles are inhaled into the respiratory system. Over time, nickel fumes can change the DNA of cells, mutating them into precancerous and cancerous tumors.
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Help for Victims of Exposure
For most people after a cancer diagnosis, worries over medical bills and other financial responsibilities can takeover. Wondering how to pay for everything can disrupt the mental health patients need to withstand rigorous treatments like chemotherapy. Fortunately for many, legal assistance is available to seek compensation from the company (or companies) primarily responsible for the diagnosis.
If you or someone you care about has been diagnosed with a respiratory cancer, it could be a result of toxic exposure in the workplace. For diagnoses like mesothelioma, linking your illness to carcinogenic exposure can be as simple as finding the source of asbestos exposure. Other cancers, however, may require more investigation to uncover the cause (or causes).
An experienced attorney can help you determine which product brands and/or employers contributed to your long-term health consequences. Additionally, a lawyer can work on your case – even in another city or state – as you continue treatment at home.
Fill out a free case evaluation form for more information about your potential legal claim.