In response to concerns that the new nickel-plated steel UK five pence and ten pence coins pose a potential health risk to people handling the coins, a study has been undertaken to compare the release of nickel from the new nickel-plated steel coins with the existing cupronickel coins.
Independent tests have been conducted by three separate accredited laboratories (The Birmingham Assay Office, The Sheffield Assay Office and Bureau Veritas Consumer Products Ltd), using a recognised, standard test for the release of nickel.
The method is defined by the European Commission (EC) Regulation 1907/2006 as the reference test method for release of nickel, from products intended to come into direct and prolonged contact with the skin.
The study concludes that there is no increased risk to people from handling the new nickel-plated steel five pence and ten pence coins compared to coins made of cupronickel alloy, based on the data available from using this standard test.
The Heath Protection Agency have also confirmed that there is no increased risk from the new nickel-plated steel five pence and ten pence coins, based on this data.
Nickel has been used in UK coinage for over 60 years and the nickel-plated coins being introduced are already in use in Canada, New Zealand and other countries around the world.
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Chief Executive, The Royal Mint