Environmental routes for platinum group elements to biological materials - a review
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2004
The increased use of platinum group elements (PGE) in automobile catalysts has led to concern over potential environmental and biological accumulation. Platinum (Pt), palladium (Pd) and rhodium (Rh) concentrations have increased in the environment since the introduction of automobile catalysts. This review summarizes current knowledge concerning the environmental mobility, speciation and bioavailability of Pt, Pd and Rh. The greater proportion of PGE emissions is from automobile catalysts, in the form of nanometer-sized catalyst particles, which deposit on roadside surfaces, as evidenced in samples of road dust, grass and soil. In soil, PGE can be transformed into more mobile species through complexation with organic matter and can be solubilised in low pH rainwater. There are indications that environmentally formed Pd species are more soluble and hence more mobile in the environment than Rh and Pt. PGE can reach waterbodies through stormwater transport and deposition in sediments. Besides external contamination of grass close to roads, internal PGE uptake has been observed for plants growing on soil contaminated with automobile catalyst PGE. Fine particles of PGE were also detected on the surface of feathers sampled from passerines and raptors in their natural habitat, and internal organs of these birds also contained PGE. Uptake has been observed in sediment-dwelling invertebrates, and laboratory studies have shown an uptake of PGE in eel and fish exposed to water containing road dust.
The available evidence indicates that the PGE, especially Pd, are transported to biological materials through deposition in roots by binding to sulphur-rich low molecular weight species in plants. PGE uptake to exposed animals have uptake rates in the following order; Pd > Pt > Rh. The liver and kidney accumulate the highest levels of PGE, especially Pd. Urinary Pd and Rh, but not Pt, levels are correlated with traffic intensity. Dental alloys may lead to elevated urinary Pt levels. Platinum is a well-known allergen, and Pd also shows a strong sensitisation potential.