formula: Ni; CAS Registry Number: 7440-02-0

Naturally occurring transition metal

Nickel is widespread in nature, its concentrations, however, are mostly low. Nickel alloys play an important role in steel industry. The pure metal is used, e.g. in electronic industry, in glass- and ceramic production, as catalyst in food industry, in coatings and batteries.

Nickel is released into the environment during weathering of rocks and human activities. Under normal conditions free nickel ions are quickly bound to iron and manganese particles and settle in the soils and sediments.

For plants and microorganisms nickel is an essential trace element, whereas its essentiality for animals and humans is not as clear. It has toxic properties and often leads to allergic skin reaction in humans. Nickel compounds are classified as carcinogenic to humans. Furthermore, effects on reproduction and teratogenic effects have been demonstrated in animal experiments.

Nickel and its compounds are toxic to aquatic organisms. Toxicity, however, varies markedly between species and depends strongly on abiotic factors. Some aquatic and terrestrial plants are capable of accumulating nickel, whereas accumulation in fish is low.

Recommended analysis examples


Zebra mussel Common mussel species as invasive animal in rivers and lakes with high information level for water pollution
Suspended particulate matter Fine insoluble mineral or organic particles in the water phase
Common bladder wrack Common brown alga of the coastal areas of the North and Baltic Sea
Blue mussel One of the most important edible mussel species common in the North and Baltic Sea
Common spruce A major primary producer in semi-natural and anthropogenic affected ecosystems.
Pine A major primary producer in semi-natural and anthropogenic affected ecosystems.
Lombardy poplar A deciduous tree typical of ecosystems close to dense conurbations and an indicator for the characterisation of the immission situation during the vegetation period.
Beech As the most dominant deciduous tree species in Central Europe, it plays a significant role in most nearly natural and also anthropogenically influenced forest ecosystems up to an altitude of 1100 m.
Soil Soil is livelihood and biosphere for humans, animals, plants and soil organisms. All the substances brought in are transported, transformed and/or accumulated in the soil.

Sampling area

BR/NP Berchtesgaden The only high mountains national park in Germany and an area of the Limestone Alps with international relevance
Saarländischer Verdichtungsraum Important, old-industrialised conurbation in Germany.
Bornhöveder Seengebiet Main water divide between the North- and Baltic Sea
Rhein Longest river in Germany
NP Bayerischer Wald Germany's first national park
NP Vorpommersche Boddenlandschaft National Park in the largest brackish water (Bodden) habitat of the world.
BR/NP Wattenmeere National park in the world largest connected sand and mud flats.
Elbe Fourth largest river basin in Central Europe
Verdichtungsraum Halle-Leipzig Region in the chemical triangle of Central Germany
NP Harz Germany's largest forest national park
Solling Second highest and largest low mountain range in Northern Germany
BR Pfälzerwald Germany's largest connected forest area in a range of low mountains
Oberbayerisches Tertiärhügelland The Upper Bavarian Tertiary Uplands are a part of the Southern German Molasse Basin
Donau Second largest river in Europe

Sampling period

1985 - 2019