Palladium--a review of exposure and effects to human health

Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2002 Oct;205(6):417-32. doi: 10.1078/1438-4639-00180.


Palladium is a metal the output and use of which has more than doubled in the past ten years. It is used in dental appliances, chemical catalysts, electrical appliances and jewelry, but the greatest increase in Pd demand has been in automotive emission control catalysts. Studies on Pd concentrations in ancient ice and recent snow samples reflect the increase in mining, smelting and use of palladium in the last decades. Increases of palladium in the environment have been shown in air and dust samples. There is no data as yet available to assess the effect of this exposure. A major source of health concern is the sensitization risk of Pd as very low doses are sufficient to cause allergic reactions in susceptible individuals. Persons with known nickel allergy may be especially susceptible. Workers occupationally exposed to Pd include miners, dental technicians and chemical workers. The latter are exposed mainly to Pd salts several of which may cause primary skin and eye irritations. It is advised that persons with known Pd allergy should not work with Pd compounds. The general population may come into contact with palladium mainly through mucosal contact with dental restorations and jewelry containing palladium and possibly via emissions from Pd catalysts. Protection of the public from related adverse effects may be achieved by the use of alloys with high corrosion stability and thus minimal release of palladium. In general, in dental patients who are sensitive to Pd, restorations using Pd-containing materials should not be used although Pd has been used without allergic effects in some of these individuals. Further, those patients who have an allergy to nickel should be informed that use of Pd-containing dental materials may cause Pd allergy, though this risk appears to be low.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / analysis
  • Animals
  • Dental Alloys / adverse effects*
  • Dust / analysis
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Metallurgy*
  • Palladium / adverse effects*
  • Palladium / analysis


  • Air Pollutants
  • Dental Alloys
  • Dust
  • Palladium