Fitbit’s Wristbands Cause Nickel Dermatitis: Just Like The Euro
THIS amused me: the new wristbands containing all sorts of lovely electronic gizmos to aid in monitoring your health actually make you ill. Fitbit, the company that makes them, apparently forgot about how you’ve got to be careful of the nickel content of something that you’re going to put onto a human being who then starts sweating:
Fitbit, a maker of wristbands that track physical fitness, says it is “helping people lead healthier, more active lives.” But complaints continue to mount from users who say Fitbit’s newest product, the Force band, is causing blisters, rashes and itchy dry patches on their wrists.
User forums on Fitbit.com, the website of the San Francisco company that also makes other wearable devices, include hundreds of comments about skin problems from wearers of the $129 Force.
One woman said she developed a burn-like red patch on her wrist that required medical treatment after wearing the wristband for seven weeks. She said Fitbit offered her a financial settlement, which she declined.
The basic problem is well known: so well known in the industry that it’s something of a surprise that the company has let itself get caught out this way.
Some 20-30% of the population are sensitive (ie, allergic, but not very much) to nickel. And usually, if you want to make something out of iron but you want it to last, then you make it out of steel. And one way to make good looking shiny shiny steel is to make nickel steel.
But! Obviously, you don’t really want to do that with something that people are going to wear next to their skin for long periods of time. So, instead, you make your watchesn’stuff out of different alloy formulations, perhaps chrome steel.
Just a pity Fitbit didn’t think of this earlier really.
However, this isn’t as bad as what our dear and beloved European Union did to us with the euro:
Euros break the European Union’s own rules. The currency, adopted by most of Europe at the beginning of this year, can release up to 320 times the amount of nickel that European Union (EU) regulations say triggers skin reactions in people allergic to the metal.
This is one of the highest rates of nickel release ever measured for any coins. Frank Nestle of the University of Zurich in Switzerland and colleagues have now worked out why – and it’s not just that the new coins contain too much nickel.
In a sweaty palm, each coin is like a tiny battery, Nestle’s team shows. When sweat gets between the two different alloys of the central pill and outer ring of 1- and 2-euro pieces, metal ions flow between them. This makes the coins corrode, releasing nickel ions, which can set off itching and redness in up to 30% of the population.
Yep, they’re actively trying to poison us all with their new coins.