No connection between nickel exposure and the health of newborns in the Kola Peninsula

The large emissions from the Russian nickel plants near the border to Norway have received renewed attention by the media, and have been lifted to the highest political level due to the lack of emission reductions. The environmental impact is tangible and there are concerns about the health of the people living in the border area. The attention is on the sulphur dioxide, but also the nickel emissions have been mentioned.

A study by the University in Tromsø in the mid 90s revealed elevated nickel levels in the urine of people living on the Russian side of the border, but not on the Norwegian side. These findings, along with the public concern, triggered a joint Norwegian, Russian and Canadian investigation to assess the health of newborns to women working in the nickel industry in the Kola Peninsula. “In this investigation we found that women working in nickel-exposed jobs show no elevated risk of delivering newborns with genital or musculo-skeletal defects, or small size for gestational age. Neither was there an association with the risk of spontaneous abortion”, says Arild Vaktskjold.

Thus, pregnant women living in the Norwegian-Russian border area should not be concerned about the emissions of nickel to the air in the Kola Peninsula.

More information: Arild Vaktskjold, The Nordic School of Public Health; arild.vaktskjold@nhv.se; ph +46 31693983

Pressofficer Monica Bengtson; monica.bengtson@nhv.se;+46- 738 524334
(idw, 05/2010)

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