Jewellery: alloy composition and release of nickel, cobalt and lead assessed with the EU synthetic sweat method

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BACKGROUND: Several studies have shown nickel and cobalt release from jewellery by using spot tests, but the metal composition of jewellery is largely unknown.

OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the metal composition of a large worldwide sample of mainly inexpensive jewellery items, and investigate the release of nickel, cobalt and lead from a subsample by using EN 1811:1998-required methods.

METHODS: A total of 956 metallic jewellery components were examined with X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy. A subsample of 96 jewellery items purchased in the United States were investigated for nickel, cobalt and lead release by the use of artificial sweat immersion and plasma optical emission spectroscopy.

RESULTS: Eighteen elements were detected. The 10 most frequently occurring were, in order of frequency, copper, iron, zinc, nickel, silver, chromium, tin, manganese, lead, and cobalt. Release of nickel was noted from 79 of the 96 US samples (0.01-98 µg/cm(2) /week), release of cobalt from 35 samples (0.02-0.5 µg/cm(2) /week), and release of lead from 37 samples (0.03-2718 µg/cm(2) /week).

CONCLUSIONS: We present here a comprehensive list of the most frequently encountered metals in jewellery and fashion accessories. Different allergenic and non-allergenic metals are utilized. We also report the frequent release of nickel, cobalt and lead from these objects, despite legislative restrictions.

Original languageEnglish
JournalContact Dermatitis
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)231-8
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015

ID: 161849584