Jump to main content
Jump to site search

All chapters
Previous chapter Next chapter


Precious Metals: Silver, Gold and Platinum-related Metals

Silver, gold and platinoid elements have numerous industrial and commercial applications but jewellery, coinage and valuable artefacts are major courses of human contact. Non-radioactive isotopes of silver and gold are without mutagenic or carcinogenic properties in humans although repeated subcutaneous injections of certain compounds have induced injection site sarcomas. Particular problems of carcinogenicity are reported in long-term contact with jewellery with residual radioactive gold content, and in gold mining and extraction. In the latter situation increased lung cancer incidence is largely attributed to concurrent exposure to radon, arsenic and silica. Platinum and related metals are used widely in jewellery, medical devices, petrochemicals and in industry are not carcinogenic in exposed humans. People in inner cities are exposed to these elements in automobile exhaust fumes and may experience respiratory distress but there is no evidence that inhaled platinum, rhodium and palladium are pulmonary carcinogens. Principal concern relates to co-ordination compounds, such as cis-platin [cis-diamminedichloroplatinum (II)], which are still in use as potent anticancer agents, but which are shown to be potent mutagenic agents and carcinogenic in rodents. Cis-platin has not been shown to be carcinogenic in humans so far, but should be listed as a potential carcinogen pending further epidemiological study.

Publication details

Print publication date
31 Oct 2013
Copyright year
Print ISBN
From the book series:
Issues in Toxicology