HEALTH ALERT:-Electric Kettels may Damage your Health The everyday habit of making a cup of tea may be contributing to a health problem that affects up to one in 10 Britons.
The government is to launch research into whether using boiled water from old-style electric kettles is worsening skin allergies through nickel leaching off exposed elements.
Those who filter their water first might be exposing themselves to the greatest risk. The resulting liquid seems to be more acidic, resulting in greater concentrations of nickel dissolving into the water, although further work is being commissioned on this issue.Even before the studies start however, consumers suffering allergic reaction to nickel will be advised by the food standards agency and drinking water inspectorate not to buy new kettles with exposed elements. Most are thought to be women who react to nickel-coated jewellery.The warning will hasten the switch to models with covered elements, usually in the base of kettles. It is extremely difficult to tell the difference between those with nickel coating and stainless steel alternatives.Several manufacturers began phasing out the old-style models some years ago although it was not clear last night how many of the 6 million kettles sold each year still had exposed elements.Scientific advisers on toxicity have concluded that the over all health risk is not serious, although high exposure to those already sensitive to nickel may worsen their skin reaction.
Of the eight models of kettle with exposed elements tested by the drinking water inspectorate, only one had a stainless steel element rather than one which included nickel in the coating. This one, bought from Woolworths, showed the lowest nickel level reading.But scientific advisers called in to study the results warned against coming to conclusions beyond that “boiling water in some types of kettle may result in elevated levels of nickel in the water”.
They said: “Since absorption of nickel from beverages such as tea, or ingested with food is greatly reduced compared with absorption from water alone, information is required on the ways in which boiled water may be consumed and the amounts consumed.”The findings coincide with EU-wide reviews devoted to setting “safe” limits for nickel, the use of which is being discouraged because in very large quantities it has been associated with nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, headaches and wheezing.Inhalation of nickel or nickel compounds has also been linked to increased risk of lung cancer.Michael Rouse, of the drinking water inspectorate, said further research was being commissioned. “Tap water is perfectly good. It is how it is affected after the tap.”