Will The New Pound Coin Kill Us All?
WELl, it might not kill is all but it’s entirely possible that it will poison a good few of us.
As you may have seen George Osborne unveiled the idea of a new £ coin in the budget. It’ll be like the old three penny bit in shape and made of two different alloys plugged together. And that’s where the slight problem comes in. For the sort of alloys you need to use to make coins will contain nickel.
Hmm, well, not necessarily, you can of course use gold or silver, and we’ve made copper coins for generations. Except all of those are too expensive or the wrong colour. So, we are pretty much limited to nickel containing alloys. It’s the only thing that will give us the weight, colours and durability that we need. And that’s a problem because they’ve already decided that it will indeed be a two colour coin. Just like the one and two euro ones in fact and that leads to the same problem:
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.
The same will happen with these new coins: or rather, the same is likely to happen with the new £s. For there’s one bit that they haven’t decided as yet:
A public consultation will be held over the summer focusing on how to manage any impacts before a final decision is made on the precise specification of the new coin, including the metal composition.
Get ready to write in telling them that you don’t want these coins to be made from nickel so that you don’t get poisoned by the currency.