Nickel, cobalt and chromium in consumer products: a role in allergic contact dermatitis?



In spite of the improved awareness of the potential for nickel, cobalt and chromium to en use skin allergy, the incidence of serialization to them is generally on the increase, especially for nickel. We review data from the literature and industry on transition metal contamination of consumer products and assess the hazard to man. Consumer products are defined as personal care items and detergent/cleaning products used regularly in domestic York. The analytical data demonstrate that consumer products are a relatively minor source of contact with nickel, cobalt or chromium. The traces found in consumer products will not be the primary cause of sensitization to these metals: levels will be too low and exposure too brief. A person sensitized to these metals has many other more significant sources of daily contact such as earrings, jewellery and metal objects. It is therefore necessary to focus on decreasing the high exposure to these transition metals from other sources rather than on possible trace amounts found in consumer products. Current good manufacturing practice ensures that trace nickel, cobalt and chromium concentrations in consumer products are less than 5 ppm of each metal, it is recommended that this be accepted as a standard for maximum concentrations and that the target should be to achieve concentrations as low as 1 ppm.