Environmental Health Criteria No 125
World Health Organization
ISBN-13    9789241571258 ISBN-10    924157125X
Order Number    11600125   
Price    CHF    29.00 / US$    34.80 Developing countries:    CHF    29.00
English     1991        167   pages
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Evaluates the risks to human health and the environment posed by the mining, refining, industrial use, and recycling of platinum and selected platinum compounds. Because of its exceptional catalytic properties, resistance to chemical corrosion, and high mechanical strength, platinum is widely used in the chemical and petroleum industries, most notably in the production of catalysts, including devices for reducing hazardous gas emissions. The growing use of catalytic converters to reduce pollution from automobile exhausts has caused a sharp increase in the world demand for this metal. Compounds such as cisplatin also have important therapeutic applications.
The book opens with a review of the many sensitive techniques that can be used to detect and measure platinum in biological and environmental samples. A review of data on sources of human and environmental exposure concludes that all significant human exposures are occupational, with the greatest potential health hazards posed by certain halogenated soluble salts that may be inhaled as dusts or come into contact with skin during the later stages of refining or during the manufacturing of catalysts. The reclamation of platinum from scrap and used equipment may also entail hazardous exposures.
Concern about environmental contamination centres on the possible release of platinum in the exhausts of automobiles equipped with catalytic converters. A review of several well-designed studies of automobile exhausts and roadside dusts supports the conclusion that such emissions are unlikely to damage the environment or threaten the health of the general population. Concerning risks to human health, the book cites platinum salt hypersensitivity as the major health hazard for workers, noting that symptoms of hypersensitivity may persist for a lifetime and that allergic reactions can be provoked by very small quantities.