Fidget Spinners – Is Nickel Inside?

Report from a day in the lab

Benjamin Schiller

 

The so-called Fidget-Spinner is becoming a must-have object on many school playgrounds. These multi-faceted toys can be easily rotated with the fingers by spinning „wings“ set on ball-bearings, and then, for example, balancing them on a finger. Given that extended contact with the skin or body is unavoidable when playing with the Fidget-Spinner, CVUA Stuttgart analyzed a total of seven different samples of such toys for their release of nickel. The reason for the investigation: intensive skin contact with objects containing nickel can cause a widespread contact allergy. None of the samples analyzed in our study presented any concern regarding the release of nickel.

Abbildung: Probenbeispiele.

Illustration: Example of samples

 

Legal Background

According to Article 67, Annex XVII, No. 27 of Regulation (EC) No. 1907/2006 (REACH regulation), nickel is not permitted to be used in objects that come in close, extended contact with the skin, if the release of nickel from parts of the object exceeds 0.5 µg/cm²/week. Products that do not conform to these stipulations may not be marketed. [1]

 

Nickel as Contact Allergen

People affected by nickel get allergic, infectious reactions on the skin (eczema). According to the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, the rate of nickel sensitization among children is 10 % and rising. Renewed skin contact with nickel can cause an allergic outbreak in sensitized individuals. Once sensitization has occurred, it is irreversible and can result in a lifelong allergy to nickel. It is therefore better to avoid contact with nickel, even at a young age. But that is not so easy. Nickel is found in many daily objects that are worn on the body. Jewelry, eye-glass frames, belt buckles and buttons are examples of such objects. [2]

The above-mentioned limit value stipulated by the REACH regulation was established for the protection of consumer health. Nickel holds the highest rate of sensitization of all contact allergens. Lawmakers are therefore determined to reduce or completely eliminate nickel concentrations in products. In addition, consequential avoidance strategies (e.g. the non-purchase of such products), can prevent further sensitization of the population.

 

Info Box

Nickel Detection –How we test

The basic judgment of whether an object releases nickel is determined via a quick test. The surface to be tested is pre-warmed and treated with a sweat-simulant, to simulate skin contact. Released nickel is dyed, from pink to cherry red, via an applied indicator solution. In addition, painted surfaces are sanded in advance, because repeated or extended body contact can cause the paint layers to wear off. Painted objects that don’t release nickel when they are still new can thus begin to release nickel over time.

If nickel is detected in this initial test, the object will be soaked in an artificial sweat solution for one week, in accordance with DIN EN 1811. Thereafter, determination of any release of nickel will be made by means of an inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (ICP-MS). The nickel content can thus be determined using the unit „µg/cm²/week“, as stipulated by the REACH regulation (see section on Legal Background).

 

Our Results

In the past, individual Fidget Spinners were recalled due to health risks associated with choking on small, easily detached pieces such as round cell batteries. [3] In terms of nickel release, however, we can give the all-clear: none of the analyzed Fidget Spinners released nickel in any meaningful amounts. The guidelines in the REACH regulation were fulfilled by all samples. In our view, therefore, there is little reason to avoid this hand toy.

 

References:

[1] REACH-VO: Verordnung (EG) Nr. 1907/2006: des Europäischen Parlaments und des Rates vom 18. Dezember 2006 zur Registrierung, Bewertung, Zulassung und Beschränkung chemischer Stoffe (REACH), Abrufbar unter http://www.reach-info.de/verordnungstext.htm

[2] Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung: Kontaktallergene in Spielzeug: Gesundheitliche Bewertung von Nickel und Duftstoffen, Stand: 11.04.2012

[3] Produktwarnung.eu: Rückruf: Gesundheitsgefahr durch SYMEX Led Fidget Spinner, Abrufbar unter www.produktwarnung.eu , Suchwort:“Fidget Spinner“, Stand: 21.06.2017

 

Links to similar reports on nickel release (the first two are available in German only):

Kugelschreiber kommen nicht nur vorübergehend mit dem Körper in Kontakt

Aktuelle Untersuchungen belegen: die Blei- und Nickelabgabe von Kaffee- und Espressovollautomaten wurde gesenkt

Coffee Pad Machines Given a Thumbs Up for Containing No Lead and Nickel

 

 

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Report published on 18.09.2017 11:15:52