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Cobalt has been a recognized allergen capable of causing contact dermatitis for decades. Why, therefore, has it been named 2016 “Allergen of the Year”? Simply put, new information has come to light in the last few years regarding potential sources of exposure to this metallic substance. In addition to reviewing some background on our previous understanding of cobalt exposures, this article will highlight the recently recognized need to consider leather as a major site of cobalt and the visual cues suggesting the presence of cobalt in jewelry. In addition, a chemical spot test for cobalt now allows us to better identify its presence in suspect materials.

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