Developing chemicals and laws?

Discussion in 'Vancouver' started by dugrant153, Jan 30, 2012.

  1. dugrant153

    dugrant153 Member

    Messages:
    380
    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2010
    Location:
    Coquitlam, B
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Hi everyone,

    I've been trying to do some research on this but am having a tough time getting answers specific to the city of Vancouver.

    Developer/Stop Bath/Fixer... my question is are these okay to pour down the drain?
    If not, where can I safely dispose of them?

    Thanks!
     
  2. KarnyDoc

    KarnyDoc Member

    Messages:
    69
    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2009
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Have you contacted specific departments within the city? I'm thinking of the public works department, sewerage department, etc. Or, you may have to go up one level, such as the provincial level (assuming British Columbia) or the state (if talking about Washington). Failing that, try contacting the national agency responsible for protecting the environment.

    Dieter Zakas
    Hazmat, NJ
     
  3. dances_w_clouds

    dances_w_clouds Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,410
    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver B.C.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    There a site @ Kaslo & Broadway in Vancouver that takes most kinds of chems you have for disposal. I have not had problems there.
     
  4. Bob-D659

    Bob-D659 Member

    Messages:
    1,300
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2008
    Location:
    Winnipeg, Ca
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
  5. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

    Messages:
    1,629
    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2010
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The answer lies in the Venn Diagram which describes the intersection of the following three phrases:
    • "What people don't know won't hurt them."
    • "It's better to ask forgiveness than to beg permission."
    • "Ignorance is bliss."

    Most lay people really are ignorant about the chemicals used in photography. As far as they are concerned, "All chemicals are bad."
    They have no idea what the chemicals are, what they are used for or just how common many of them are:
    Hydroquinone/Metol = An ingredient is skin whitening creams to remove age spots. (Not used very much anymore.)
    Ascorbic acid/Sodium Ascorbate = Vitamin C.
    Acetic acid = vinegar.
    Sodium thiosulfate = An agent sometimes used as an antidote for cyanide poisoning. Also used in topical medications to treat certain forms of skin rash. (Pityriasis versacolor.) (Not common uses.)

    These chemicals are fairly common and are all things that can be ingested or spread on the skin.
    I wouldn't put concentrated stop bath on my salad nor would I eat powdered XTOL as a vitamin supplement but my point is that the chemistry we use to develop film is not nuclear waste. Properly handled and responsibly disposed of, the chemicals that the average home photographer who does not use any exotic chemicals or alternative processes should pose virtually no problem if disposed down the municipal sewer in reasonably small quantities.

    If you are an industrial user or a business, things are different. You'll probably have to get a permit. But, the average guy who develops a couple-few rolls of film per week will have no problem.

    One caveat is fixer. I would not dump used fixer down the drain. It contains dissolved silver which is an environmental pollutant. Secondarily, you can recover that silver and cash it in for money. The average home photographer won't get rich off the silver but, over the span of a year or two, it will likely be enough money to buy a dozen rolls of film and the chemistry to process it.

    Here's what I've been doing: I recover the silver from the spent fixer then I store what's left in old 5-gallon buckets with tight fitting lids. I peel off the label from the original container and stick it on the sealed buckets. Our town has a "Household Haz-Mat Amnesty Day" where, one day a year, you can collect up all the old household chemicals, paint thinner, cleaning agents, used oil, etc., and turn them in to the municipal recycling center for free disposal. With that label on the bucket, I have not had any questions asked.

    Past that, I would not go around asking questions. Most people, ignorant as they are about photography, have no idea what photographic chemistry is, what the potential hazards are, nor do they understand just how safe it is, given reasonable precautions. Out of that ignorance, most people will just make up their own answers with no regard to truth or logic. The most likely answer you hear will be something like, "Chemicals? You can't pour CHEMICALS down the drain!!"

    You're probably better off not asking. Just go about your business in the responsible manner you already know how and let sleeping dogs lie.
     
  6. Ryuji

    Ryuji Member

    Messages:
    1,416
    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2005
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If you are using septic system, you should be very sensitive about disposing the chemicals, and there usually are ordinances. However, if treated by municipal sewer treatment plants, developers, stop, fix and wash aid are pretty benign. In some areas borates and hydroquinone are regulated. But otherwise, the common ingredients are not particularly damaging to the environment.
     
  7. cscurrier

    cscurrier Member

    Messages:
    60
    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2012
    Location:
    Bellingham,
    Shooter:
    35mm
    In my area, everything but fixer is ok to dump down the drain, because of the silver within. The fixer can be properly disposed of at the dump.
     
  8. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,417
    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2009
    Location:
    northern Pa.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Developer and stop can both be dumped into a sanitary sewer without any harm. We routinly dump far worse down the drains without realizing it. Fixer should be taken to a toxic waste facility or de-silvered and made inert, there are easy methods of removing silver from it, and the price of metals makes it worth the effort.
     
  9. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    19,975
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    hi dugrant153

    call your local water/sewer authority, instead of getting advice on an internet message board.
    on a message board you are going to get a variety of answers from " it deadly poisonous " to " none of it is toxic
    they are all a bunch of dopes who say it is "

    by calling your local authority you will get the actual answer to your question ..
    some places have strict laws some don't.

    where i live it is very strict, where i used to live they would fine people thousands of dollars a day for being non-compliant with
    the rules and regulations governing photochemical waste.

    if you find out that you have to dispose of your fixer, and you want to take some of the silver out of it first, feel free to contact me
    i sell silver recovery systems that are inexpensive, and efficient.

    good luck !
    john
     
  10. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

    Messages:
    1,629
    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2010
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Regardless of the regulations in your area, get the SilverMagnet anyway.
    Out of my last two gallons of spent fixer, I extracted almost an ounce of silver. That's a bit over $30 worth. I'll probably generate that much more by the time summer rolls around. By this time next year, I'll end up with that much again. If I keep going at this rate, that'll be almost $100 a year. That's enough to buy a brick of film. You can't beat that with a stick! :wink:

    BTW: Even after I extract the silver, I'm still going to take my spent fixer to Haz-Mat Collection Day when it comes around again.
     
  11. neelin

    neelin Member

    Messages:
    91
    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2007
    Location:
    winnipeg, ca
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    Pour fixer down the drain, perish the thought.
    I guess I'm going to hell. I use 12-0-0 liquid fertilizer for fixer, desilver it after use & use it at the farm.
    FWIW 12-0-0 is liquid ammonium thiosulfate, primarily a sod/turf fertilizer.

    Very rich greens with C41 :wink:

    Robert
     
  12. dugrant153

    dugrant153 Member

    Messages:
    380
    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2010
    Location:
    Coquitlam, B
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Thanks for all the info people. And yes, I'd LOVE to grab some silver out of the fixer... this is the first time I've heard of the possibility!!

    Will probably give a call to the local authorities soon.
     
  13. PhotoBob

    PhotoBob Subscriber

    Messages:
    535
    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2006
    Location:
    Victoria, BC
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'm glad this question has come up and for the feedback.