Toxic Nickel and a Day at the Fair

I want to write about two things at once. Craft shows and toxins. No, please, let me explain.

Summer is coming.  My first craft show of the year is in less than a month and I am starting to get really excited about getting going. I have ordered a new canopy with sides to keep the wind out if needed, and I am starting to evaluate some of my practices that may help or hurt me in the long run. I am getting psyched up to do this year right.

In the process I have received my very first rejection (wahh!) for a craft show I really wanted to get into. Ok, I can live with it, but one of the things that caught my attention was that the person responding called nickel free jewelry a "niche market," and seemed to think I was reaching out to only a few people with some exotic disease. So my growing enthusiasm for craft fairs will have to wait for another blog post.

This is a message I would like to start getting out to the public as much as possible: Nickel is a toxin.

Nickel is a Toxin

In the course of reading about nickel, I run across a rather bizarre cross-section of studies. They pretty much run the gamut from wholistic / spiritual / herbs-from-your-back-yard medicine to such intense medical journals I can barely read them. However when I read a page from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) that specifically labels nickel as a toxin, I take note. I start looking for other references and information about nickel as a toxin, and lo and behold, there is a lot of information about this around. This is before I even dig "that" deep. All of this is available with a quick search on Google.

It becomes apparent that nickel is responsible for things that everyone should be concerned about. It is a known carcinogen, for one thing. It can create respiratory problems. It can create reproductive abnormalities. It has been associated with low blood pressure, cardiovascular problem, and fibromyalgia. Its health effects are listed alongside other heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, aluminum and arsenic. 

I am not really an expert that can guarantee the veracity of medical claims. I guess you could call me an independent researcher, or just a confused citizen who tries to connect the dots. But we do recognize a few of the "bad guys" whose status has changed over the years (Lead, Mercury, Arsenic) and recognize that the evidence is mounting from a variety of sources - from personal accounts to medical journals.

Is it an Allergy?

I have begun to believe that calling a reaction to nickel an allergy is wrong in the first place. People associate "an allergy" with pollen, or peanut butter, or strawberries.  It's the kind of thing that an unlucky few have a reaction to, but normal, healthy people can use without worry.

To start thinking of nickel as a toxin, we have to understand that no one is safe who uses nickel. Its health risks do not discriminate, and the reaction that some people experience when in direct contact with the metal, is only the visible, and painful result of the body rejecting something that is causing everyone harm.  Really, no one talks of a lead allergy, even though not every person exposed shows every symptom. You do, however, talk of Lead Exposure, Lead Contamination, or Lead Poisoning. Is it time to start thinking of nickel this way?

My Niche Market

When we realize nickel is in so many things, we realize we need to really pay attention. Seriously, nickel is still an element of the earth. It was here long before we were, and it certainly must have an important function somewhere. But not all "natural" things are healthy for humans, and some of them are quite horrible.

So, if nickel is really a toxin in our environment, then everyone would know about it, our government would regulate it, and industry wouldn't allow it -- right? I'd really like to think this were true, however do you think it's also possible that industry has a stake in continuing business-as-usual to avoid some nasty PR and expensive overhauls? Do you think government would possibly want to protect these industries so as not to upset some of the folks at the top? Do you think people can deny a true fact for as long as possible because they just don't need one more thing to worry about? Perhaps this is a good place to mention that in Europe, the EU actually does regulate the use of nickel in jewelry and other products. Hm.

Let's just say I'm not holding my breath for government and industry to get together and decide we'd all be healthier without nickel in almost everything. The push to remove nickel from existing alloys, industrial environments, and everyday products would be enormous, and I'm not sure it could even be done. This leaves the consumer to live by the "buyer beware" maxim which we are all too familiar with - to do your own research, trust few, and assume nothing.

So, yes, I guess I do have a niche market. They're called Humans.


Do you want to read more? Check out the resources page from my website. I don't believe in keeping my research a secret. We are all wearing our human-skin and most of our needs are the same. I think it's nice to put all the information in the same big kettle, stir it up a little and see what each of us takes from it.


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