Environment, health and safety

PGMs in their metal form are generally considered inert and harmless – and many people choose platinum, for example, for special items of jewelry due to its rarity and purity, natural white colour, and resistance to tarnishing.

The inertness of the PGMs means aggressive chemicals and high energy processes are required to extract and refine them from mined ores or recyclable products. Some PGM compounds found within industrial PGM refining and product manufacturing settings can have properties quite different to the elemental metals and finished PGM products.

It is important the hazards of PGM compounds found in industrial settings are understood and exposures are appropriately controlled to maintain a safe and healthy workplace.

The main health effect of concern in PGM refining and manufacturing is the potential for certain platinum compounds to cause sensitisation of the respiratory tract. With increased understanding and improved exposure controls, the incidence of platinum salt sensitivity (PSS) has decreased dramatically over the years. The PGM industry is committed to going further and through IPA has undertaken various initiatives to assist in this mission.