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OEHHA Publishes Definition of Nickel

On May 2, 2019, California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) published a definition of nickel (soluble compounds) under Proposition 65. OEHHA’s notice defines nickel (soluble compounds) as compounds of nickel with solubility in water of greater than 0.1 moles per liter at 20 degrees Celsius. OEHHA initially added nickel (soluble compounds) to the Prop 65 list as a chemical known to cause reproductive toxicity in October 2018, but did not define “soluble.” Warnings for exposures to nickel (soluble compounds) will be required in California as of October 26, 2019.

Before placing nickel (soluble compounds) on the Proposition 65 list, nickel was listed in various forms including nickel (metallic), nickel acetate, nickel carbonate, nickel carbonyl, nickel compounds, nickel hydroxide, nickelocene, nickel oxide, nickel refinery dust from pyrometallurgical process, and nickel subsulfide. Nickel refinery dust from the pyrometallurgical process and nickel subsulfide are the only two forms of nickel that have designated safe harbor levels, below which no warnings are required. Following the listing of nickel (soluble compounds), questions were raised by industry groups about which compounds made from nickel would be implicated in the new listing. OEHHA’s definition does not include a definitive list of compounds as industry representatives sought, but does establish some criteria by which businesses may evaluate their Proposition 65 obligations, if any.

According to OEHHA, the new definition conforms to (i) the findings of the Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant Identification Committee (DARTIC) after assessing the listing of nickel and (ii) OEHHA’s previous definition of nickel. That definition of nickel compounds was outlined in a document known as “Nickel Reference Exposure Levels: Nickel and Nickel Compounds, Nickel Oxide, Reference Exposure Levels.”

Nickel (soluble compounds) are abundant in a large range of products, including various industrial functions. Companies in California should assess whether nickel (soluble compounds) are present at any concentration in consumer goods sold or distributed in California and determine whether warnings may be required.  If a warning is required, it may be provided in several ways depending on the type of exposure at issue.

Grimaldi Law Offices has been advising clients for over 20 years on chemical and product law. For knowledgeable advice and in-depth analysis on your chemical regulatory compliance obligations, contact Grimaldi Law Offices at (415) 463-5186 or email us at [email protected].

Ms. Grimaldi maintains a diverse environmental law practice focusing on chemical and product regulation and litigation defense. Her practice areas include Proposition 65, California's Safer Consumer Products Regulations, California's Rigid Plastic Packaging Container Act and the federal Toxic Substances Control Act. Ms. Grimaldi graduated from the University of California Hastings College of the Law magna cum laude and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Bacteriology from University of California, Davis. Prior to attending law school, she worked as a research assistant in laboratories at the University of California, San Francisco Cancer Research Institute and at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine.