One and two-euro coins release traces of the metal nickel at levels between 240 and 320 times higher than EU-regulated norms, greatly increasing the risk of allergic reaction in nickel-sensitive handlers, according to an article to be published on Thursday in the British journal Nature.
Scientists from University of Zurich in Switzerland found that the bi-coloured coins corroded upon prolonged contact with human sweat, releasing more nickel than pure nickel itself.
The coins do not contain more nickel than some other currencies, including Swiss one-franc coins, but the scientists concluded that the euros’ bi-metallic structure made them more prone to corrosion.
Nickel levels are regulated in European products because of risks to sensitive handlers of allergies, especially hand eczema. A Spanish hospital reported treating over 20 nickel-provoked skin rashes in January just after the euro coins went into circulation, with patients reporting ”prickly sensations and rashes”.
Nickel industry officials have repeatedly denied the coins, the sole currency in the 12-nation euro zone, could cause skin problems under normal usage.
The principal author of the study, Frank Nestle, wrote that nickel release was particularly high from what he called the inner ”pill” of the 1-euro, registering values ”among the highest nickel-release rates ever measured on coins”.
Dermatological tests were conducted on seven nickel-sensitive subjects. All showed positive results after having the coins taped to their skin for up to 72 hours. – Sapa-AFP