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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Health Note/Euro Itch

Air Date: Week of

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Living on Earth’s Cynthia Graber reports that some Europeans may be allergic to the new Euro dollar coins.


TOOMEY: Just ahead, the poetry and prose inspired by Montana’s Yaak Valley. First, this Environmental Health Note from Cynthia Graber.


GRABER: Europe’s new currency is rubbing some people the wrong way. It turns out Euro dollar coins can increase allergic reactions in people with nickel sensitivities. That’s according to researchers in Zurich, Switzerland who noted something strange in the months after the Euro was introduced. More people suffering from nickel sensitivity were showing up in allergy clinics. The Euro coins contain the same amount of nickel as other coins, such as the Swiss Franc. But the Swiss scientists did a few experiments and found that the Euro releases more nickel when exposed to human sweat because it contains two different nickel alloys, or mixtures of metals. And when people handle the coins, their sweat conducts a current between the two metal mixtures, sort of like a battery. This, in turn, corrodes the nickel, so more of it is released in a way that can affect the allergy sufferers.

Swiss researchers say there is no epidemic of sensitivity to the new Euro. But their findings may lead future coin makers to design coins with only one alloy, instead of two. That’s this week’s Health Note, I’m Cynthia Graber.


TOOMEY: And you’re listening to Living On Earth.

[MUSIC: Modern Quartet & Cibelle, "Tantos Desejos," SUBA/TRBUTO (Six Degrees Records, 2002)]



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