Nechville Musical Products

Is Your Armrest Causing Nickel Allergy?

After playing a nickel-plated flute, an American girl recently suffered an extended allergic reaction around her mouth and lips. Could this have been prevented?

Whenever there's direct and prolonged contact of nickel with the skin, there's also the potential for Nickel Allergic Contact Dermatitis (NACD). Although not life-threatening, NACD is a lifelong allergy. Estimates suggest that between 10-15 percent of all American women and 1-2 percent of U.S. men are sensitized to nickel and thus at risk of suffering from NACD. A disappointing finding, considering this ailment is avoidable.

Nickel-plating is fairly inexpensive and creates a better price structure in the marketplace. And while creating nickel-plated consumer products intended for prolonged contact with the skin isn't illegal in the U.S., that's not a defense in a product liability or 'failure to warn' case. So what can be done? A good start might be to limit the number of consumer reactions by restricting the nickel to the body of the instrument, using alternative materials or coatings for keys, mouthpieces, valves, etc. Existing products should appropriate language identifying the possibility of reactions in the product literature and packaging. For now, the Consumer Product Safety Commission supports voluntary industry undertakings as an alternative to regulation.

This information was provided by the Nickel Institute. For more information, log on to

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