asthma and chemicals

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by PhotoManiac3000, Aug 23, 2005.

  1. PhotoManiac3000

    PhotoManiac3000 Inactive

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    I was reading a really great interview/article with tom millea on focus magazine's website. In the beginning of the interview, it talks about ventillation in your darkroom not being good, well, he's developed problems with his lungs. I have a condition known as intrinsic asthma (which is a type of asthma not caused by allergens, but can be set off by chemicals) and have a heredity of lung cancer in my family (all non-smokers)...I'm wondering, since my dark room is in my basement, what I can do for proper ventillaiton or if I should just let labs develop my film for me? Can these labs handle platinum/palladium?
     
  2. Aodhán

    Aodhán Member

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    You can always see if one of those professional chemical masks is an option for you.
    They'r not very comfortable but in the long run might be a good investment for your health.
     
  3. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

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    Dear 'Maniac',

    First, I would consult the American Cancer Society. If after that I wasn't frightened off, a good venting system with hoods directly above (and fairly close to) your trays is a fairly cheap and easy project. The local home center should have everything you need. I saw a really beautiful system once that used large diameter PVC pipe rather than ductwork.

    Neal Wydra
     
  4. Bill Mobbs

    Bill Mobbs Member

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    The large diameter pvc is a great idea for a good workable exhaust system. I have seen some that have a large collector tray over the work area made of clear plastic. You will need a strong exhaust fan to take the bad stuff away.
     
  5. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    You may also want to use odorless fix and stop bath, Clayton has both. I have use both and found both to be really odorless.
     
  6. Rlibersky

    Rlibersky Subscriber

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    Should still check the MSDS on the orderless products. Orderless does not mean fumeless.
     
  7. Donald Qualls

    Donald Qualls Member

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    Very much so -- in fact, the "odor" part of conventional stop bath and most of the odor from fixer are just acetic acid, like vinegar (and about half the strength, in the case of stop bath). Where you're most likely to encounter respiratory problems with darkroom chemicals is sufur dioxide emission from acid fixer. Alkaline fixer is worse, with ammonia emission. Solution: near-neutral fixer, like the C-41 or automated processor fixers that you can buy as concentrate in gallon or larger jugs from the larger photo suppliers. You'll pay more to ship the big jug (weighs between 10 and 15 or so pounds, depending on the exact package), but you save enough on the contents to be worth it; this stuff does the same job and has the same capacity as common rapid fixer products, but costs less than 1/4 as much per gallon of working solution.

    For odorless stop bath, there shouldn't be any worries; they're citric acid, often with a buffering agent, and shouldn't bother you any more than lemonade would (quite possibly less, since they're less acidic).

    For developers, if you use a liquid concentrate, you'll avoid airborne developer particulate, which is the primary source of problems with developer. HC-110 and Rodinal are very nice developers, the concentrates keep extremely well, and both are economical to use. There are many other liquid concentrate developers, also, including paper developers. I've never noticed any significant odor from any developer, but (as pointed out above), that doesn't mean they aren't emitting fumes that could be harmful to your asthma.

    Bottom line, though, the fixer is your worst enemy, with a known emission of a known problem chemical, and you can beat that one with one stroke.
     
  8. jp80874

    jp80874 Subscriber

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    This is another good reason for using a Jobo. The chemicals can be mixed and then stored in bottles with lids. The chemical “action” goes on in the tank. When you are done with each stage of development the chemicals can be dumped into bottles with lids. All this dramatically reduces exposure to fumes.

    Because of bad allergies I use the Jobo and fans ducted through 4” PVC pipes. The pipes are white and even go with the “décor” of the wet side of the darkroom.

    Breath easy,

    John Powers
     
  9. juan

    juan Subscriber

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    I have asthma, too, and mix all of my chemicals wearing a paint-spray mask with a filter rated for chemical fumes. I make my own stop bath using citric acid only.

    For fixer, I've been using TF-2, which is an alkaline fixer containing only sodium thiosulfate, sodium sulfite and sodium metaborate. It doesn't seem to have any fumes, but I'm no chemist. Donald, do you have any thoughts?
     
  10. mark

    mark Member

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    I have asthma and have never had a problem. Venting a darkroom is common sense, so go ahead and do it. Not that hard. As for mixing chemicals I do it outside.
     
  11. Jordan

    Jordan Member

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    I think the main problem is in print developing rather than processing film (where the chemicals are not "open" except when transferring from tank to bottle, etc.) Remember that the presence of "fumes" in your work area depends on the exposed surface area of the liquid in the tray. For this reason you may want to look at getting a slot processor (there is a company called Nova that makes them) to minimize the exposed surface area of the solutions.

    There is a book that addresses issues of health and toxicology in the darkroom -- I believe it's called "Post Exposure" or something like that. I can't remember the authors' names.
     
  12. Scott Edwards

    Scott Edwards Member

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    I have an increased sensitivity to chemical fumes in the darkroom. It seems that it is a cumulative condition and gets worse over time. What I do, in addition to ventilation, is to use masonite lids to cover my chemicals until I am ready to use them, and then cover them back up as I move the print to the wash. I also use a 3M mask designed to filter organic fumes. The combination of these works just fine and I no longer have any issues with my lungs. This may seem a bit extreme, but I am absolutely dedicated to wet darkroom work and refuse to relegate this to anyone else.
     
  13. Donald Qualls

    Donald Qualls Member

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    With no ammonium ion present, TF-2 can't produce ammonia due to alkalinity, but it is also slower and subject to the caveats about sodium thiosulfate fixers potentially having limited capacity, or even being unable to completely fix t-grain and delta grain films due to their high iodide content. If used in a two-stage fixing process, it's likely fine; otherwise, if used with "designer grain" films it would be advisable to test for residual halide to ensure your film is fully fixed.

    And that's certainly another option -- an alkaline, ammonia free fixer used in a two-bath fix regimen. Two-bath gives both better fixing and better fixer life than a single fix, but it's an extra bottle (unless also used one-shot), an extra tray or graduate, and an extra step; many workers don't consider it worth the extra trouble.