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What does it look like?[edit | edit source]
Platinum is a heavy metal that is grayish-white.
It has a melting point of one thousand seven hundred sixty-eight degrees Celsius. This is hotter that a Bunsen burner flame. Heating platinum to this temperature makes it glow a reddish-orange color. Heating it up even more, to three thousand eight hundred twenty-five degrees Celsius, will turn it into a glowing orange gas.
How was it discovered?[edit | edit source]
It was first discovered by South Americans and used by pre-Columbian Indians. It was taken to Europe in the 1750s.
Where did its name come from?[edit | edit source]
Its name came from the Spanish word platina (meaning "little silver").
Where is it found?[edit | edit source]
Platinum is found in South America and Russia. It is obtained as a by-product of nickel and copper mining and processing.
What are its uses?[edit | edit source]
Platinum is used in jewelry, laboratory equipment, electical contacts, and dentistry. It is also used in the catalytic converter inside cars.
Is it dangerous?[edit | edit source]
Yes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, short-term exposure to platinum salts "may cause irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat" and long-term exposure "may cause both respiratory and skin allergies."