MEDICS in Sheffield have warned about the possible health risks of using new 5p and 10p coins being introduced into circulation.
The coins are made from steel but plated in nickel, replacing the cupro-nickel version which contains 75 per cent copper and 25pc nickel.
Leading dermatologists, including David Gawkrodger of Sheffield’s Royal Hallamshire Hospital, have warned the move could cause problems for people who have nickel allergies, including some people with eczema.
But the Royal Mint said the change would not have an adverse impact.
The new coins, which come into circulation in the next few months, are being introduced because of the rising cost of copper.
The Treasury believes it could save £10 million a year, although millions have been spent changing vending machines and parking meters as the new coins are slightly thicker, causing anger among councils and industry.
Up to 10 per cent of the population, predominantly women, are thought to be affected by nickel allergy.
Mr Gawkrodger and colleagues have expressed concern that the potential cost of skin disease related to nickel exposure has not been examined.
They called for the ‘poorly informed’ Royal Mint to consider the financial implications of treating patients, and the cost to the Treasury if people are unable to work.
In a letter to the BMJ, the dermatologists said there was the potential for more skin problems, which could have financial implications for the NHS.