In a letter published today on bmj.com, authors from St John's Institute of Dermatology and the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield look at The Treasury's plans to introduce Royal Mint nickel-plated coins.
The authors say that there has been no assessment of the new coinage which is being brought in to save costs. Furthermore, there has been no consideration (by HM Treasury officials or the Royal Mint) given to the potential costs to health in terms of skin disease, financial implications to the NHS or other costs to the taxpayer.
The Royal Mint has in fact confirmed that they have "no information on nickel-release from the new coins" and that no studies or assessments have been undertaken on how it may affect those with a nickel allergy.
In comparison, The Treasury's Swedish counterparts, Swedish Riksbank have recently concluded that nickel-plated coins "pose unacceptable risks to health" and they will "not be using nickel containing alloys in their coinage".
The Royal Mint may have followed all the rules with regards to the introduction of new coinage, but there is still no proof that those with hand eczema (dermatitis) or nickel contact allergies will not suffer.
The authors suggest that Sir John Beddington, Chief Scientific Adviser to HM Government, gives his opinion on the matter. The letter ends with the last thought that public records should show that "competent risk assessment has formally considered the concerns".
More information: www.bmj.com