Coin change 'could cause more skin problems'

 
Five pence pieces New versions of the 5p coin are coated in nickel

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Fears are being raised that 5p and 10p coins being introduced into circulation could cause skin problems.

The coins are made from steel but plated in nickel, replacing the current cupro-nickel version which contains 75% copper and 25% nickel.

Dermatologists told the British Medical Journal the move could cause problems for people who have nickel allergies, including some people with eczema.

But the Royal Mint said the change would not have an adverse impact.

The new coins, which come into circulation in the next few months, are being introduced because of the rising cost of copper.

The Treasury believes it could save £10m a year, although millions have been spent changing vending machines and parking meters as the new coins are slightly thicker, causing anger among councils and industry.

Up to 10% of the population, predominantly women, are thought to be affected by nickel allergy.

No health assessment

The latest controversy has been raised by dermatologists from St John's Institute of Dermatology in London and the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield.

The authors warned that there had been no health assessment of the new coinage.

Professor David Gawkrodger, University of Sheffield: "It is a theoretical concern"

In comparison in Sweden its central bank, the Swedish Riksbank, has recently concluded that nickel-plated coins "pose unacceptable risks to health", the BMJ reported.

In a letter to the BMJ, the dermatologists said there was the potential for more skin problems, which could have financial implications for the NHS.

They said: "Considerable evidence supports these concerns, which have not been assessed by the Treasury or Royal Mint."

They have called for Sir John Beddington, the government's chief scientific adviser, to look into the matter.

But a spokesman for the Royal Mint said both they and the government were "confident" the change would not lead to any more adverse effects among people with skin problems.

He also said while there had been no specific health assessment on the new coins, the move met with all the existing guidelines.

 

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  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 134.

    This is probably an insignificant problem compared to the nasty bacteria carried on nearly all coins. Just think of the number of people who handle the coins you handle, and how many of them have dubious habits or poor personal hygiene. Ugh! Quick wash of hands, I think ....

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 133.

    Interesting how this type of thread makes everybody spout O level chemistry like they were Henry Bessemer!

    Allergic to Nickel? Don't talk such drivel!! I'll tell you what though, I think I'm allergic to some of the left wing guff spouted on these threads!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 132.

    #130 before you give a lot of nickel coins to a lawyer remember that damages in the UK are based on actual loss not US style monopoly money compensation. If you're a concert pianist and the damage to your skin is so severe you can't play a court case might be worth it. In all probability you'll be awarded the cost of a tube of hydro-cortisone cream. About £2.50....in nickel coins.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 131.

    As someone who doesn't suffer from allergies, I would urge all nickel-allergy sufferers to give their coins to me.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 130.

    Ready to take them to court? I am.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 129.

    Certainly seems a bit dangerous if some people are allergic to nickel. Continued contact with an allergen can increase your reaction to it. Why not use stainless steel or is that more expensive and why make the coins thicker?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 128.

    So the currency is being debased.

    In the old days, those who debased the currency by methods such as the clipping of gold coins were hanged.

    Now, the 'copper' coins are so debased they're not even worth anything like the scrap value of the super thin copper coat.

    The money [system] we use today has clearly failed us & its rate of collapse IMHO is accelerating.

    The canary in the cage is dead.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 127.

    I probably shouldn't suggest this because it'll really fuel the hypocondriacs fears but given how dirty most coins are nickel allergies are the least of our worries! Most coins have more germs than a bacteriology lab.

    #126 is correct. You might as well ban all traces of nuts in all foods as ban nickel in coins (and I DO have a nickel allergy). Someone will be seriously allergic to almost anything

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 126.

    @122.Mad Scientist, i still dont see the problem, at most you are going to handle the coins for a few seconds, maybe a minute mostly when paying for something, you arnt going to walk around with a handful of them for prolonged periods of time, which is when the allergy will kick in, unless you are extemely sensitive to nickle which most people arnt.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 125.

    #123 I WAS thinking of cast iron. Having dropped a cast iron wok onto a stone floor it was quite an impressive explosion.

    Either way it doesn't seem to be a problem for the mint. The "copper" 2ps have been "steel cored" for a long time according to my pocket change and a magnet. I suspect the dies for stamping them are a very hard alloy. As the coins are dated the dies must change annually anyway

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 124.

    This is all just silly nonsense. How are people too lazy to do a day's work even going to come into contact with these coins? They won't.

    & don't harp on about benefits - those will soon be abolished as the gov't finally comes to terms witht he fact that the UK is flat broke!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 123.

    118. Peter_Sym
    Pure Iron is also very brittle so no use for stamping out a coin.

    Not true. Pure iron is softer than aluminium, but difficult to obtain. You might be confusing pure iron with pig iron. The hardness, corrosion resistance and malleability are all controlled by adding impurities.

    Chromium to make stainless, 0.2-2.1% carbon for steel, etc.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 122.

    111. Lizg

    In some shops, the self checkout machines are more intelligent than the checkout operators.

    121. allthatswronginsport
    There is a massive difference between the 25% nickel alloys in coins and the 100% nickel plating on coins.

    For a start, apart from the concentration, the nickel atoms on the surface of an alloy have a stronger bonding than those on pure nickel.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 121.

    As usual theres a lot of misinformation, the UK has been using Nickle in coins for almost 20 years. The sources that are stiring up the hysteria have used a study from sweden that banned Nickle-alloys from coins but forgot to mention existing 5p & 10p coins are 25% nickle.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 120.

    Why don't they recycle the old coins ?

    there certainly isn't more money in circulation that's for sure.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 119.

    Bad idea. Stop it right away. not bothered about skin problems, but having to recalibrate loads of coin accepting machines is a very bad idea. And how much of the £10m 'saving' will go towards mint staff bonuses i wonder?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 118.

    #116 I wouldn't use the MOS scale (rather crude with most metals the same rating) I prefer the Vickers scale but hardness is only half the story. Pure Iron is also very brittle so no use for stamping out a coin. God knows what the 'steel' in these coins is adulterated with but its not going to be expensive is it? Incidentally I've got a 10 year 2p in my pocket thats ferrous so its not a new thing.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 117.

    We do take the handling of money for granted.

    those people who always obsess about washing their hands umpteen times a day and applying the anti-bac after every trivial task . . but think nothing of preparing food after handling money.

    Money has been everywhere ! And no one washes it, as far as I know.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 116.

    110. Peter_Sym

    On the MOHS hardness scale. Pure copper has a hardness of 3.0, whereas pure iron has a hardness of 4.0.

    This makes pure iron twice as hard as pure copper.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 115.

    #113 Leave the immunology to immunologists. Your 'natural immunity' are you white blood cells which are hopefully INSIDE your body not on your hands. Washing your hands does not destroy your B & T cells.

    NOT washing your hands on the other hand (if you're a midwife) used to the usual cause of 'child bed fever' which was universally fatal. MRSA is spread by poor hand washing today.

 

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