Excessive nickel release from earrings purchased from independent shops and street markets - a field study from Warsaw and London

Jacob P. Thyssen1, Torkil Menne1, Carola Liden2, Ian White3, Jonathan White3, Radoslaw Spiewak4, Jeanne D. Johansen1

1National Allergy Research Centre. Department of Dermato-Allergology, Copenhagen University Hospital Gentofte, Hellerup, Denmark
2Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
3Department of Cutaneous Allergy, St. John's Institute of Dermatology, London, UK
4Department of Experimental Dermatology and Cosmetology, Faculty of Pharmacy, Jagiellonian University Medical College, Krakow, Poland

Source: Thyssen JP, Menne T, Liden C, White IR, White J, Spiewak R, Johansen JD. Excessive nickel release from earrings purchased from independent shops and street markets - a field study from Warsaw and London. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol 2011; 25 (9): 1021-6.


Background: Nickel allergy is frequent and cause morbidity and increased health care costs. Objective: The aim of this study was to determine the proportion of inexpensive earrings randomly purchased from stores and street markets in two capitals that gave positive dimethylglyoxime (DMG) test reactions and to determine whether the degree of nickel release was related to shop category. Methods: Random inexpensive metallic earrings were purchased from stores and vendors in London and Warsaw. A qualitative investigation of nickel release by using the DMG test was performed. Results: DMG testing revealed that respectively 15.1% (n = 205) and 18.4% (n = 206) of earrings purchased in London and Warsaw released nickel as indicated by positive test outcomes. Stratification by store category showed that DMG test-positive jewellery were mainly purchased from street markets and from stores that were not part of national or international chains. Conclusion: Despite the EU Nickel Directive having resulted in decreasing prevalence of nickel allergy, a large proportion of inexpensive earrings still release nickel in concentrations that may result in nickel allergy and dermatitis. Authorities should prioritize information campaigns and random inspections as a legislation that is not followed is of limited value.

Key words: epidemiological studies, children, ISAAC questionnaire, allergic contact dermatitis, atopic eczema.

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Document created: 12 December 2010, last updated: 1 September 2011.