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Technical Guidance on Nickel

January 2017

What is it?

Nickel is an abundant metal. It is often combined with other metals to make alloys with increased hardness and resistance to corrosion. Nickel plating is widespread in decorative applications to give bright and shiny surfaces.

Potential health hazards


Many nickel compounds are carcinogenic, mutagenic and/or toxic to reproduction. In metallic components or components with metal plating, nickel may migrate from the parts and cause skin irritation. Some consumers may be more vulnerable to nickel allergy. It is also one of the most common types of skin allergy in Europe.

Commonly found in:

Fashion jewellery and watches e.g. ear rings, watch straps and wrist-watch cases; metal components in apparels and footwear such as snaps, metal buttons, zippers, eyelets, etc.

Related legislation (non-exhaustive)

  • European Union: REACH Annex XVII, entry 27
  • Switzerland: Regulation on objects for human contact, SR 817.023.41

Maximum limit (non-exhaustive)
EU and Switzerland limits:

  • 0.5 μg/cm2/week (products intended to come into direct and prolonged contact with the skin)
  • 0.2 μg/cm2/week (any post assemblies which are inserted into pierced ears and other pierced parts of the human body)

How can TÜV SÜD help?

TÜV SÜD has a dedicated technical solutions team to support you with root cause analysis, problem identification, suggestions for improvement and failure minimization.

  • Training and seminar on understanding the RSL (Restricted Substance List) and MRSL (Manufacturing Restricted Substance List)
  • Testing services on raw materials and final products 

Please click to find out additional information about our Softlines services.

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