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Dermatologists are pleading with the Royal Mint carry out a thorough risk assessment of its new nickel-plated coins, which they say could cause an allergic reaction.
In a letter to the British Medical Journal, Danielle Greenblatt and Ian White of St John’s Institute of Dermatology and David Gawkrodger of the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, said the Royal Mint had not assessed health risks from the new 5p and 10p coins, which it started to introduce this year because they cost less to produce.
The coins are made from nickel-plated steel, rather than the usual alloy of nickel and copper. The dermatologists said this could cause dermatitis on the hands of sensitive consumers.
The BMJ letter said: “The Swedish Riksbank recently reviewed its coinage and concluded that nickel-plated coins pose unacceptable risks to health … The prevalence and implications of contact allergy to nickel in Sweden are no different from those in the UK.”
The Royal Mint said it “adhered to all the relevant legislation and guidelines relating to the introduction of new coinage and can confirm that the new nickel-plated 5p and 10p coins have no additional potential to cause adverse effects on people with allergic contact dermatitis and hand dermatitis”.
The dermatologists have asked Sir John Beddington, government chief scientist, to take a view. “It should be for the public record that a competent risk assessment has formally considered the concerns,” they concluded.