Nickel release from earrings purchased in the United States: The San Francisco earring study

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Abstract

Background:

Nickel sensitization is frequent among US patients with dermatitis and in the general population. In Europe, decreasing prevalences of nickel sensitization are observed as a result of the European Union Nickel Directive. However, no directive exists in the United States.

Objectives:

We sought to examine nickel release from inexpensive earrings and discuss possible methods of reducing nickel exposure among consumers.

Methods:

A total of 34 different stores and artists were visited. A total of 277 earrings were purchased and examined with the dimethylglyoxime (DMG) test.

Results:

DMG-positive earrings were identified from local artists (69%) and tourist stores (42.9%) but also chain stores targeting young (24.1%) and mature (1.7%) women. No correlation between price and outcome of DMG testing was identified.

Limitations:

Our study does not reflect buying trends in the United States. Pretreatment of earrings with artificial sweat was not performed and the DMG may lead to both false-positive and false–negative results.

Conclusions:

Nickel exposure from inexpensive earrings is frequent in the United States. A regulatory governmental intervention may be warranted.

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