Friday, 11 February 2011 21:20


Rate this item
(1 Vote)

Gunnar Nordberg

Occurrence and Uses

Palladium (Pd) occurs in nature with platinum or gold, as the selenide. It is found in nickel sulphide ores and in the minerals stibiopalladinite, braggite and porpezite. The concentration of palladium in the Earth’s crust is 0.01 ppm.

Palladium has been used in gold, silver and copper alloys in dentistry. Alloys are also used for bearings, springs and balance wheels in watches. Palladium is used as a catalyst in the manufacture of sulphuric acid. In powder form it serves as a catalyst in hydrogenation. The sponge form is used for separation of hydrogen from a mixture of gases. Silver alloys are used for electrical contacts. Palladium (II) complexes have been studied as antineoplastic drugs.

Palladium chloride (PdCl2·2H2O), or palladous chloride, is used in photography toning solutions and for the manufacture of indelible ink. It is an agent used for transferring pictures to porcelain, for electroplating watch parts, and for finding leaks in buried gas pipes. Palladium chloride is associated with copper chloride in catalyzing the production of acetaldehyde from ethylene.

Palladium oxide (PdO), or palladous oxide, is used as a reduction catalyst in the synthesis of organic compounds. Palladium nitrate (Pd(NO3)2) is used in the separation of halides. Palladium trifluoride (PdF3) is an active oxidizing agent.


Studies indicate cases of allergy and contact dermatitis caused by palladium in dental alloys and fine jewellery. In one study palladium-based alloys were associated with several cases of stomatitis and oral lichenoid reactions. In this same study palladium allergy occurred mainly in patients with a sensitivity to nickel. Palladium chloride produces dermatitis and allergic skin sensitization in workers exposed daily. In addition, it should be regarded as an eye irritant. Palladium hydroxide was used in the past to treat obesity by injection; this form of treatment gave rise to localized necrosis and was discontinued.

Safety and Health Measures

Correct exhaust ventilation is necessary when working with palladium and its compounds. Good personal hygiene, proper protective clothing and medical surveillance are important measures in preventing the risks associated with sensitization. Adequate sanitary facilities must be provided.



Read 4078 times Last modified on Thursday, 19 May 2011 10:31
More in this category: « Osmium Platinum »

" DISCLAIMER: The ILO does not take responsibility for content presented on this web portal that is presented in any language other than English, which is the language used for the initial production and peer-review of original content. Certain statistics have not been updated since the production of the 4th edition of the Encyclopaedia (1998)."


Metals: Chemical Properties and Toxicity References

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). 1995. Case Studies in Environmental Medicine: Lead Toxicity. Atlanta: ATSDR.

Brief, RS, JW Blanchard, RA Scala, and JH Blacker. 1971. Metal carbonyls in the petroleum industry. Arch Environ Health 23:373–384.

International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). 1990. Chromium, Nickel and Welding. Lyon: IARC.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). 1994. NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards. DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 94-116. Cincinnati, OH: NIOSH.

Rendall, REG, JI Phillips and KA Renton. 1994. Death following exposure to fine particulate nickel from a metal arc process. Ann Occup Hyg 38:921–930.

Sunderman, FW, Jr., and A Oskarsson,. 1991. Nickel. In Metals and their compounds in the environment, edited by E Merian, Weinheim, Germany: VCH Verlag.

Sunderman, FW, Jr., A Aitio, LO Morgan, and T Norseth. 1986. Biological monitoring of nickel. Tox Ind Health 2:17–78.

United Nations Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods. 1995. Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods, 9th edition. New York: United Nations.