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Euro Itch

People who were itching for the debut of the euro might have gotten more than they hoped for.

A lot of people in Europe have been reporting mild skin rashes after holding the euro-- the new coins they use in Europe, so that everyone will have a single currency.

It's a good idea economically, but there seems to be a problem with the coins themselves. They contain two kinds of nickel. One alloy of nickel is nestled inside a ring of another alloy. That makes it hard to counterfeit, but it also did an unexpected thing--it created a tiny electric current.

About forty millivolts of electricity have been found to flow between the two alloys. You'd never feel a shock, but your skin might notice that the coin it's holding is slowly corroding.

The effect is subtle, but nickel is a substance to which many people are allergic. If you hold euros for a long time, and have a nickel allergy, you can get eczema-like symptoms from the nickel coming off.

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