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High nickel release from 1- and 2-euro coins


The amount of nickel is regulated in European products that come into direct and prolonged contact with human skin1 because this metal may cause contact allergy, particularly hand eczema2,3,4. Here we show that 1- and 2-euro coins induce positive skin-test reactions in sensitized individuals and release 240–320-fold more nickel than is allowed under the European Union Nickel Directive. A factor contributing to this high release of nickel is corrosion due to the bimetallic structure of these coins, which generates a galvanic potential of 30–40 mV in human sweat.

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  1. 1

    European Parliament and Council Directive 94/27/EEC Official Journal of the European Communities (Brussels, 1994).

  2. 2

    Andersen, K. E., Burrows, D. & White, I.R. in Textbook of Contact Dermatitis (eds Rycroft, R. J. G., Menné, T. & Frosch, P. J.) 418–420 (Springer, Berlin, 1995).

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    Gollhausen, R. & Ring, J. J. Am. Acad. Dermatol. 25, 365–369 (1991).

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    Nielsen, N. H. et al. Br. J. Dermatol. 141, 676–682 (1999).

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    European Standard EN 1811: 1998D Official Journal of the European Communities (Brussels, 1999).

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    Speidel, M. O. & Uggowitzer, P. J. in Materials in Medicine 191–208 (VDF Hochschulverlag AG, ETH Zürich, 1998).

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    Liden, C. & Carter, S. Contact Dermatitis 44, 160–165 (2001).

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Figure 1: Release of nickel from euro coinage compared with that from pure nickel in artificial sweat, as measured by the EN 1811 standard reference test5 (values here have not been divided by 10, as specified for the test).


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