What is the Nickel Industry's Position Concerning Nickel ACD?

The nickel industry:

  • Recognizes that nickel ACD can be a significant health and social problem for individuals who have become nickel sensitized.
  • Accepts the opinion of experts in dermatology that induction of nickel sensitization and nickel ACD is caused principally by body piercing or prolonged and intimate contact by the skin with a sweat-soluble form of nickel.
  • Accepts and concurs with the opinion of experts that the use of nickel in ear-piercing studs, jewelry and clothing clasps, and zippers is the prevailing cause of nickel sensitization and nickel ACD. The nickel industry supports the intent of regulations such as the EU Nickel Directive (now REACH) to restrict the release of nickel from articles used in direct and prolonged contact with the skin and piercing studs.
  • Supports the use of protective equipment and training for workers routinely handling nickel substances in industrial environments.
  • Concurs with the Consensus Document from the 1997 Nickel Dermatitis Workshop that ‘transient, short-term contact with nickel-containing articles such as coinage, keys, handles, tools, and other equipment does not appear to be a factor in the induction of an allergic contact dermatitis within the general population. If the contact is of short duration and infrequent, the risk of sensitization is negligible, and the risk of the elicitation of dermatitis is limited.’(4)
  • Believes that adoption of regulations such as the Nickel Directive in the EU and Scandinavian countries have resulted in a reduction in the prevalence of nickel ACD.

Nickel in coins
Nickel is used in many coins around the world *
  • Is not aware of large numbers of cases of nickel ACD having been associated with nickel in coinage despite more than a century of use in billions of coins handled by billions of people. In particular, there is no epidemiological report of adverse effects in the Canadian population from having pure nickel 5, 10, and 25 cent coins in circulation for decades. In addition, there is no evidence of significant adverse dermatological effects in the United States population from having a 25% nickel-copper clad 25-cent coin.
  • Believes that provocation studies where coins or tools are kept in intensive and prolonged contact with the skin of sensitized individuals and which elicit an allergic response are not relevant to coinage or tool use by the general population.
  • Conducted a key study that demonstrated that continuous handling of nickel-containing coins for 8 hours/day for multiple consecutive days did not elicit a nickel ACD reaction in any of the nickel-sensitized or non-nickel-sensitized individuals tested.(20)
  • Understands that for the great majority of the general population, the use of tools is unlikely to result in a dose sufficient to cause nickel ACD or induce nickel sensitization.

4.  Thyssen, J.P., Menné, T. 2010. Metal allergy—a review on exposures, penetration, genetics, prevalence, and clinical implications. Chem. Res. Toxicol. 23(2): 309-318.

20.  Zhai, H.; Chew, A.-L.; Bashir, S.J.; Reagan, K.E.; Hostynek, J.J.; Maibach, H.I. 2003. Provocative use test of Ni coins in Ni sensitized subjects & controls. Br. J. Dermatol. 149: 311-317. 

*  Some rights reserved by photographer uhuru1701 http://www.flickr.com/photos/uhuru1701/2247520563/sizes/o/in/photostream (last accessed June 2013)