[See Nickel in dental usage]
Is your kettle poisoning you?
Sunday Express Feb 12, 1995
THE British kettle was the subject of a new controversy last night when scientists claimed it could damage the health of tea and coffee drinkers.
Sunday Express readers, still reeling from news that their kettles are taking longer to boil, now find they may be "poisoning" them.
Research by Danish government scientists suggests that boiling water in kettles with nickel heating elements can contaminate it.
They have found it increases the nickel content of the water up to seven times. Toxicologist Hansen warns: [missing bit] Dr John Henry of the National Poisons Unit said there was no proof drinking nickel damages health or caused allergies. "It's not terribly poisonous," he said.
The Danes found that of many mass-produced kettles releasing nickel, those made by Philips produced the highest contamination.
Limescale Elements are made of several combinations — nickel-coated copper, chrome and nickel, stainless steel and teflon-coated. Limescale build-up cuts the release of nickel. But contamination increases when the scale is removed.
Mr Hansen said in some kettles tested "we found up to 300 micro-grammes of nickel in every litre of boiling water. We've asked firms to come back with a way of preventing it or to tell customers allergic to nickel which kettles not to use." Philips is about to market a stainless steel kettle that will avoid the problem. But at present it will be available only in Sweden.
Barry Coldbreath, spokesman for the electronics giant, said: "We see no reason to withdraw any kettles. We are in touch with the "National Food Agency in Denmark. They haven't reached a conclusion."
He cited evidence from the World Health Organisation that nickel is poorly absorbed and poses "no acute toxic risk."
Dr William Franklin, a consultant at Guy's Hospital allergy clinic, agreed but added: "We want less of these things in our water."
Allergies to nickel were commonplace, he said, with nearly one in four women over 40 suffering rashes and itchiness after wearing jewellery containing nickel. The Sunday Express began the Great Kettle Debate when Brian Hitchen wrote he was sure his kettle was taking longer to boil. Reporters found Hampshire brews the fastest cuppa and Cheshire is the place for a leisurely pot.