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Nickel release from coins

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Nickel allergy is the most frequent contact allergy and is also one of the major background factors for hand eczema. The clinical significance of nickel release from coins was discussed when the composition of euro coins was decided. Current European coinage is dominated by cupro-nickel coins (Cu 75; Ni 25); other nickel-containing and non-nickel alloys are also used. Nickel release from used coinage from the UK, Sweden and France was determined. It was shown that nickel ions are readily available on the surface of used coins. After 2 min in artificial sweat, approximately 2 μg of nickel per coin was extracted from cupro-nickel coins. Less nickel was extracted from non-nickel coins. Nickel on the surface was mainly present as chloride. After 1 week in artificial sweat approximately 30 μg/cm2 was released from cupro-nickel coins: less nickel was released from coins made of other nickel alloys. Theoretically, several μg of nickel salts may be transferred daily onto hands by intense handling of high-nickel-releasing coins.
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Keywords: bioavailability; chemical analysis; coin alloys; contact allergy; cupro-nickel; euro coin; nickel; nickel release

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Occupational and Environmental Dermatology, Department of Medicine, Karolinska Institutet and Stockholm County Council, Stockholm, Sweden 2: Laboratory of the Government Chemist (LGC), Queens Road, Teddington, Middlesex, TW11 0LY, UK

Publication date: 01 March 2001

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