Nickel carbonyl (as Ni)

IDLH Documentation
CAS number: 13463­39­3

NIOSH REL: 0.001 ppm (0.007 mg/m3) TWA; NIOSH considers nickel carbonyl to be a potential occupational carcinogen as defined by the OSHA carcinogen policy [29 CFR 1990].

Current OSHA PEL: 0.001 ppm (0.007 mg/m3) TWA

1989 OSHA PEL: Same as current PEL

1993-1994 ACGIH TLV: 0.05 ppm (0.12 mg/m3) TWA

Description of substance: Colorless to yellow liquid with a musty odor.

LEL: . . . 2% (10% LEL, 2,000 ppm)

Original (SCP) IDLH*: 7 ppm [*Note: "Effective" IDLH = 2 ppm -- see discussion below.]

Basis for original (SCP) IDLH: The chosen IDLH could be based on the statement by ACGIH [1971] that a 30­minute exposure to 7 ppm is lethal for mice [Kincaid et al. 1953]. According to AIHA [1968], the mouse 30­minute LC50 is 10 ppm [Kincaid et al. 1953]. Because of the assigned protection factor afforded by each device, however, 2,000 ´ the OSHA PEL of 0.001 ppm (i.e., 2 ppm) is the concentration above which only the "most protective" respirators are permitted. With regard to the short exposure tolerance for humans, AIHA [1968] reported that a concentration of 3 ppm for 30 minutes has been suggested [Kincaid et al. 1953].

Short-term exposure guidelines: None developed


Lethal concentration data:



Adjusted 0.5-hr

Derived value








Armit 1909

Brief et al. 1971

Coulston & Korte 1975

Gekkan Yakuji 1980

Kincaid et al. 1956

Kincaid et al. 1956

Kincaid et al. 1953

Kincaid et al. 1953















90 min

30 min

30 min

30 min

30 min

30 min

30 min

30 min
519 ppm (1.44)

30 ppm (1.0)

266 ppm (1.0)

42 ppm (1.0)

35 ppm (1.0)

7 ppm (1.0)

94 ppm (1.0)

10 ppm (1.0)
52 ppm

3.0 ppm

27 ppm

4.2 ppm

3.5 ppm

0.7 ppm

9.4 ppm

1.0 ppm

Other human data: It has been stated that 3 ppm for 30 minutes is the probable short­term exposure limit [Kincaid et al. 1956].

Revised IDLH: 2 ppm

Basis for revised IDLH: Based on acute toxicity data in humans [Brief et al. 1971; Kinkaid et al. 1956], an IDLH of 3 ppm would have been appropriate for nickel carbonyl. However, the revised IDLH for nickel carbonyl is 2 ppm based on being 2,000 times the current OSHA PEL of 0.001 ppm (2,000 is an assigned protection factor for respirators; only the "most reliable" respirators are recommended above 2,000 times the OSHA PEL). [Note: NIOSH recommends as part of its carcinogen policy that the "most protective" respirators be worn for nickel carbonyl at concentrations above 0.001 ppm.]


1. ACGIH [1971]. Nickel carbonyl. In: Documentation of the threshold limit values for substances in workroom air. 3rd ed. Cincinnati, OH: American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists, p. 180.

2. AIHA [1968]. Nickel carbonyl. In: Hygienic guide series. Am Ind Hyg Assoc J 29:304­307.

3. Armit HW [1909]. The toxicology of nickel carbonyl. J Hyg 7:525­551.

4. Brief RS, Blanchard JW, Scala RA, Blacker JH [1971]. Metal carbonyls in the petroleum industry. Arch Environ Health 23:373­384.

5. Coulston F, Korte F, eds. [1975]. Heavy metal toxicity, safety and hormology. In: Environmental Quality & Safety, Supplement 1. New York, NY: Georg Thieme Publishers, pp. 1­120.

6. Gekkan Yakuji (Pharmaceuticals Monthly) [1980]; 22(3):455­459 (in Japanese).

7. Kincaid JF, Stanley EL, Beckworth CH, Sunderman FW [1956]. Nickel poisoning. III. Procedures for detection, prevention, and treatment of nickel carbonyl exposure including a method for the determination of nickel in biologic materials. Am J Clin Pathol 26:107­119.

8. Kincaid JF, Strong JS, Sunderman FW [1953]. Nickel poisoning. I. Experimental study of the effects of acute and subacute exposure to nickel carbonyl. AMA Arch Ind Hyg Occup Med 8:48­60. Go back to the Documentation for Immediately Dangerous To Life or Health Concentrations (IDLHs)