Nickel in our Tap Water

Nickel in Our Water
When I was first diagnosed with my allergy, I only considered being aware of all the food I ate that could have traces of nickel. I never considered how the tap water I drink could be a “trigger,” until I read Barbara Njuguna’s personal story about how she was “nickel poisoned” after drinking tap water.

When I was first diagnosed with my allergy, I only considered being aware of all the food I ate that could have traces of nickel. I never considered how the tap water I drink could be a “trigger,” until I read Barbara Njuguna’s personal story about how she was “nickel poisoned” after drinking tap water.

I lived in Salt Lake City, Utah when I was first diagnosed with my nickel allergy. Salt Lake City’s water source originates from the protected watersheds in the Wasatch Mountains. The water undergoes a thorough water treatment process and then is distributed by traditional water mains.

The type of pipe used in most water mains is copper pipe or galvanized pipe. Copper pipeline probably doesn’t contain any nickel, whereas nickel is abundant in the zinc coated steel or iron made galvanized pipes.

“The primary source of nickel in drinking-water is leaching from metals in contact with drinking-water, such as pipes and fittings. However, nickel may also be present in some groundwaters as a consequence of dissolution from nickel ore-bearing rocks” (2004, World Health Organization, p. 1).

Currently, I live in a floating house on the Columbia River in Portland, Oregon. Living on the water poses many challenges. However, one of the huge benefits is that tap water only travels through PVC pipes, instead of zinc coated steel or iron galvanized pipes.

I don’t know if the tap water I drink effects my nickel allergy or my eczema. I drink the tap water and I filter it using a PUR water filter. However, I let the water run for a minute or so prior to drinking it.

12 comments
    1. Hi Viliana,
      Thanks for commenting on my website. Eating the low-nickel diet is the best way for me to curtail the itchiness of my eczema. I also use nickel free cosmetic products and lots of lotion. When that doesn’t work, I have a prescription for Desonide.
      What have you found that works?
      Christy

  1. OMG, I have been going insane, almost literly, due to constant itching that Ive never experienced in my entire life. Ive had normal in and outdoor allergy testing, came up nothing.. not allergic to anything. The skin on my arms started getting super dry and thick and my dermatologiat said it was age. Ive been going around the house, in my car, everywhere taking tape samples of things I find that Im hoping is the source of my itching. Took samples to professional lab that tests for mold and asbestos and they said they didnt see anything abnormal. Aaahhhhh!! My husband thinks it’s all in my head.
    When I first got my ears pierced in 7th grade, I did determine I couldnt wear alot of earings, braclets or necklaces without causing a rash so Ive only worn nickle free. Duh! It makes perfect sense now.
    How long ago were you diagnosed, what were your symptoms and what kind of test or doctor did you go to who could dignose you with that?

    1. Hi Karen,
      Thanks for your comment. I am glad you’ve found my website useful for you. Here’s a link with my nickel food allergy diagnosis. I experienced severe symptoms for 3-4 months before visiting a dermatologist because I was between health insurance plans and I didn’t want my diagnosis to be identified as a pre-existing condition. After I was patch tested, my dermatologist suggested I try the low-nickel diet.
      I don’t know if you’ve heard of skintifique. They’ve created nickel free cleasers and lotions for us. This post has a $15 referral code for both you and I if you want to give their products a try.
      Warm regards,
      Christy

      1. I have been going crazy with itching on my hands elbows and legs. I came to know that i am allergic to Nickel. I have question about what type of drinking water i should drink at home. currently i drink tap water.

        1. Hi Manuja,
          Thanks for your comment. Like I mentioned in my post, I still drink tap water and use a filter. I’ve also heard of people severely allergic to nickel using a reverse osmosis system at the tap they most frequently use to drink, for instance your kitchen sink. Many hardware stores sell them for $100-200 or you can check out YouTube videos on how to create your own.
          Regarding your hands and legs, you might consider the cosmetic products you use in addition to the water. Here are some posts you might find useful Skin Care for Atopic Dermatitis, “Natural” Skin Products Loaded with Nickel, and Nickel Free Product Review: Skintifique.
          Warm regards,
          Christy

  2. Hi- what about water you use for showers? I am going for an appointment for nickel allergy testing among other things but feel it could be nickel. Our city water has also had a funny chemical smell and I’ve complained. They have flushed the lines and tested it but I have doubts because it still smells.
    I have started boiling the water… but what do you do about showering?
    Thanks!
    K

    1. Hi Krystle,
      Thanks for your comment. All kinds of heavy metals exist in our water, including those I referenced in this post and lead. I choose to use the the Pur Water Filter because it’s one of the best products to remove lead from tap water. There are recommendations to let your tap/shower water to run for 10-60 seconds in case there’s nickel released from the metal fixture itself, which is often stainless steel.
      You can often request the municipal water company/city quality report. Where I live, I receive this report with my bill once a year. The report lists contaminants ranging from microbiological, radioactive, inorganics, etc. Sometimes these reports are public relations campaigns for the public utility, but often they contain useful information and could help you identify what’s in your water.
      In the US, you can also contact you local county or health department and ask if they test local water sources. If yes, you can ask if as a resident/taxpayer whether you could bring in a sample of your own household water. My state health department will test household water in their lab for under $20.00. I haven’t done it yet, but it’s on my to do list.
      Reverse osmosis is really the only way to remove nickel from water. Personally I haven’t had issues with showering, unless I don’t moisturize after. Someone with a severe nickel allergy told me she purchased a Pure-Pro Shower Filter 6000, allowing her to take long showers without issues.
      Good luck,
      Christy

  3. I have found out I am allergic to some nickel jewelry. I now have found that drinking the water at work hurts my stomach and I have terrible dry skin on my hands I am dealing with. Could it be there is nickel in the water at work I am allergic too? What test do they do on me or the water to find out?

    1. Hi Debra,
      I’m not sure about your situation. It’s probably best to consult your physician. Have you tried bottled water to see if your symptoms are connected to when you drink tap water or perhaps something else? You could also consider having your tap water tested by your local health department, like I suggested to the above comment to Krystal.
      Warm Regards,
      Christy

  4. I have just been diagnosed with a life threatening allergy to nickel. I am a little overwhelmed at the moment on all the intricate and exhausting life changes that means for me. I am trying to take it one day at a time, believing that one day in the future, this crazy new life will seem normal to me and my family. I am slowly making the necessary changes in my life so as to not be totally consumed. I have to change my diet (keeping a detailed log of just how much Ni I consume is quite daunting!). I have to change what I wear, my personal use items, what is in my home, my medications, vitamins and supplements. I have to have a nutritionist. I have to consult with a Dr. over vaccines, headache med, any procedures I need, and the list goes on and on an on. I am trying to find out the approximate amount of Ni in a cup of water, but that is proving almost impossible due to trying to trace where the water comes from. Is there a more simple to know?

    1. Hi Margaret,
      Thanks for your comment. I understand how overwhelming a systemic nickel allergy can be, especially if like your situation it can be life threatening. It sounds like you’ve made lots of positive changes, even if they are time consuming. Unfortunately, I’m not aware of a method to check the amount of nickel in tap water. There might be a test, but I don’t know if there’s a test where you can identify it each time or multiple times a day.
      Generally it’s recommended to not drink the initial amount of water released from the tap, as the research says that water tends to have more nickel/metals in it than the other water. I think of the water left in the pipes vs new water pushed through the pipes as a result of the pressure when the tap is turned on. Some folks drink bottled water, which can be very expensive. Others invest in a reverse osmosis water system. 
      Warm regards,
      Christy

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