All 306 South African platinum refinery workers (116 white, 190 coloured) accepted for employment on grounds of absence of evidence of atopy were investigated using the skin prick test and RAST to detect sensitivity to platinum, palladium, and rhodium salts. RAST studies were made for these, together with HSA and DNP-HSA RAST. Of the 306 workers, 38 had a positive skin prick test to the platinum halide salts; of these, one gave a positive reaction to the palladium salt and six to the rhodium salt. There were no isolated positives to the rhodium and palladium halide salts. Total IgE levels were raised in 24 of the 38 (63%) platinum salt prick test positive workers compared with only 43 of the 268 (16%) prick test negative group (p less than 0.001). Positive RASTs were obtained in 62% of those with positive skin tests to the platinum salts. Four of the six giving positive rhodium salt skin tests gave a positive RAST to rhodium salt. Of these, two gave positive RASTS to HSA and all four to DNP-HSA. The palladium salt RAST was negative in the single skin test reactor. In the platinum salt skin test positive group a raised HSA RAST was obtained in 10.5% compared with only 2.5% in the skin negative group. Twenty one per cent of the platinum salt skin positive group had a raised RAST score to DNP-HSA with only 3.5% (4/116) in the skin test negative group, of whom three also had a raised HSA RAST. The latter findings are suggestive of IgE antibody production to new antigenic determinants in HSA produced by conjugation with the platinum salts.
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