Many substances used in catalysts have hazardous properties that can be linked to adverse health effects. In many cases, the catalyst is contained in reactors or other processing equipment with minimal exposure. As catalysts are normally in an industrial process, they do not normally involve any contact with consumers, only workers.

The main method to check the safety of catalysts is to with the safety datasheet (SDS) that is available from catalyst manufacturers or suppliers. As well as information on the hazards, the SDS contains details for the handling, transport and risk management measures such as personal protective equipment (PPE).

As well as the fresh catalysts, spent catalyst may contain hazardous substances. These include residual substances which are chemicals that remain on the catalyst from the processed streams such as hydrocarbons or incident substances that have been formed in the reaction process.

Hazardous substances may be present as dust, vapour and gas and can enter the body by a number of routes with the most likely routes via inhalation and skin absorption. Catalysts are produced in tightly controlled facilities, where all measures are taken to prevent both occupational exposure as well as environmental release of catalyst constituents. These facilities are regularly audited by government agencies.