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Apple's iPad may pose risks for people with nickel allergies

updated 12:40 pm EDT, Mon July 14, 2014

11-year-old boy's reactions traced to iPad use

People with nickel allergies may have to be careful with the iPad, a newly-published paper in the journal Pediatrics suggests. The paper documents an 11-year-old boy who was treated at a San Diego hospital for a rash. Most treatments didn't work, but testing found nickel in his skin, and it was ultimately discovered that the nickel was coming from an iPad the boy had been using increasingly often during the past six months.

The solution was to have the boy wrap the iPad in Apple's official Smart Case, which covers the iPad's metal edges and back. After that, the rash began to improve.

Nickel rashes are said to be relatively benign but potentially extremely uncomfortable. Skin eruptions can become infected, and may require steroids and antibiotics.

An Apple spokesman, Chris Gaither, says that the company has no comment on the matter. The firm may be unlikely to change the materials in its products, since nickel is an uncommon allergy and it could be difficult to completely eliminate that content.

by MacNN Staff




  1. jdonahoe

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 07-05-06

    Dummy me, I thought the back of an iPad was made of aluminum.

  1. jdonahoe

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 07-05-06

    The kid's going to have a tough time in the future since all coins, short of the penny, have plenty of nickel in them.

  1. LenE

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 05-19-04

    The problem comes from the sealant used on anodized aluminum. Typically, a nickel acetate solution is used to seal the pores that hold the dyed color.

    All colored anodized aluminum has this coating. It isn't just the iPad that will give this kid exposure. This isn't the same as a nickel plating used for coinage, which is an alloy of nickel. This nickel acetate is an organic compound that is far more soluble with common liquid solvents (like water).

  1. OldMacGeek

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 08-04-10


  1. DiabloConQueso

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-11-08


  1. sunman42

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 11-09-11

    This is a known problem with virtually all "gold" jewelry. Can't imagine why it's news for iPads only.

  1. Mike Wuerthele

    Managing Editor

    Joined: 07-19-12

    It isn't news for iPads only. It's quite hard to make a completely nickel-free product, unless it's all-plastic. We're aware of the chemistry behind this, and may expand the article later this week.

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