Importance of automobile exhaust catalyst emissions for the deposition of platinum, palladium, and rhodium in the northern hemisphere. Academic Article uri icon


  • An estimated 500 million vehicles worldwide are equipped with an exhaust catalyst that uses platinum group elements (PGE) as the main active components and thus contribute to global PGE emissions. Although PGE emitted from automobile exhaust catalysts were first believed to remain in the roadside environment, we propose here that fine PGE-containing particles in automobile exhaust have resulted in a widespread distribution of emitted PGE. Regional and long-range transport of PGE from automobile exhaust catalysts is supported by elevated PGE deposition in both a peat bog located 250 m from traffic and in central Greenland, respectively. Russian smelters were also found to contribute to PGE contamination in central Greenland. Deposition rates estimated for the roadside environment, the peat bog, and central Greenland were used to provide a first estimate of PGE deposition in the northern hemisphere. The results show that deposition of regionally or long-range transported PGE accounts for a large fraction of total PGE deposition, and PGE deposition in the roadside environment represents less than 5% of the total deposition. Transport at the regional and global scales represents an important component in the environmental cycle of emitted PGE and needs to be further studied to fully assess the environmental fate of PGE from automobile exhaust catalysts.

publication date

  • November 1, 2005