Nickel subsulfide is produced in nickel refineries and used in the manufacture of lithium batteries.
Substance name: Nickel subsulfide
CASR number: 12035-72-2
Molecular formula: Ni3S2
Synonyms: Nickel sulfide; heazlewoodite; nickel sulfide (3:2); nickel tritadisulfied; trinickel disulfide
Nickel subsulfide is a pale yellowish-bronze, metallic, lustrous, crystalline solid.
Melting Point: 790°C
Nickel subsulfide is not soluble in water, or in organic solvents.
The National Pollutant Inventory (NPI) holds data for all sources of nickel subsulfide emissions in Australia.
Symptoms of exposure to this type of compound may include skin sensitisation, and skin rashes. Inhalation may lead to asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, and pulmonary oedema. According to both the International Agency for Research on Cancer and Worksafe Australia, this product is a known carcinogen.
Entering the body
Nickel subsulfide will enter the body if we breathe in contaminated air.
Workers in the industries that use or produce nickel subsulfide are at risk of exposure. Consumers can be exposed to nickel subsulfide by exposure to air from production facilities, processing facilities, and disposal sites using or receiving nickel subsulfide, or from the misuse of lithium batteries.
Workplace exposure standards
Safe Work Australia sets the workplace exposure standard for nickel subsulfide through the workplace exposure standards for airborne contaminants:
- Maximum eight hour time weighted average (TWA): 1 mg/m3
These standards are only appropriate for use in workplaces and are not limited to any specific industry or operation. Make sure you understand how to interpret the standards before you use them.
Drinking water guidelines
The Australian Drinking Water Guidelines include the following guidelines for acceptable water quality:
- Maximum of 0.02 milligrams per litre of water for health purposes
Nickel and its compounds have high acute (short-term) toxicity to aquatic life. They also have high chronic (long-term) toxicity to aquatic life. Insufficient data are available to evaluate the effects on plants, birds, or land animals. Nickel and its compounds are highly persistent in the environment and will bioaccumulate, or become concentrated in the tissues of animals.
Entering the environment
Industrial emissions of nickel subsulfide can produce elevated, but still low level concentrations in the atmosphere around the source. It will be carried by wind currents.
Where it ends up
Nickel subsulfide is a powder that will be deposited where wind currents from the manufacturing site carry it.
Australian Water Quality Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Waters (ANZECC, 1992):
Fresh waters: Maximum of 15 to 150 micrograms per Litre (i.e. 0.000015 to 0.00015 g/L), depending on water hardness.
Marine waters: Maximum of 15 micrograms per Litre (i.e. 0.000015 g/L).
The primary sources of nickel subsulfide are the industries that manufacture it or use it in production. It will be produced in nickel refining and used in the manufacture of lithium batteries. These industries are potential emitters of nickel subsulfide as a dust into the atmosphere.
Diffuse sources, and industry sources included in diffuse emissions data
Sub-threshold facilities in the above industries.
Nickel subsulfide is a naturally occurring mineral in the earth's crust, known as heazelwoodite.
There are no known sources of mobile emissions of nickel subsulfide.
Lithium primary batteries are the only known consumer product containing nickel subsulfide.
Sources used in preparing this information
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (1997), Public Health Statement Nickel subsulfide (accessed, May, 1999)
- Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC) (1992) Australian Water Quality Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Waters
- ChemFinder WebServer Project (1995), Nickel subsulfide (accessed, May, 1999)
- Environmental Defense Fund (1998), Nickel subsulfide: The Chemical Scorecard: (accessed, May, 1999)
- Environmental Health Center, a division of the National Safety Council, Environment Writer – Chemical Backgrounders Nickel Compounds 2 (July, 1997) (accessed, May, 1999)
- International Agency for Research on Cancer, IARC Monographs Programme on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans (accessed, May, 1999)
- National Environment Protection Council (1998a), National Environment Protection Measure for the National Pollutant Inventory (accessed, May, 1999)
- New Jersey Department of Health, Right to Know Program (1986), TRIFacts, Nickel (accessed, May, 1999)
- Nickel Producers Environmental Research Association (NiPERA), The Nickel Page (accessed, May, 1999)
- NTP Chemical Repository, Radian Corporation, Nickel subsulfide (AUGUST 29, 1991) (accessed, May, 1999)
- Technical Advisory Panel (1999), Final Report to the National Environment Protection Council.
- Safe Work Australia, Workplace exposure standards for airborne contaminants, accessed January 2019.
- National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (2011) - Updated October 2017, accessed May 2018.