2000 - Don't Let Nickel Get Under Your Skin - The European Experience

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2000 - Don't Let Nickel Get Under Your Skin - The European Experience

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In 1991 Swedish experts led by Carola Liden raised the issue of the health and safety of nickel in jewellery and similar products before a Plenary Meeting of the European Committee responsible for the Standardization of Precious Metals. They presented evidence showing that the incidence of sensitization and allergy from contact with nickel-containing materials was very significant, with up to 10% of women affected. Following further work and substantive results, a Directive was accepted by the European Parliament in 1994, which sought to minimize these effects by controls on nickel content or release. Now, five years later, all the necessary supporting test procedures have been agreed by EC member states and issued as European Standards, removing the last obstacle to implementing this Directive. Meanwhile, we at the Assay Office in Birmingham have gained much experience as these test procedures have been developed, particularly with respect to the types of materials and platings that conform to the requirements of the Directive. This paper reviews the effects of nickel sensitization and allergy, the requirements of the Directive and the development of the supporting test procedures. In addition, our experiences with these test procedures and the performance of various materials that conform are discussed.

Author: Roy Rushforth

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