disposing of chemichals?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by gandolfi, Sep 28, 2005.

  1. gandolfi

    gandolfi Member

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    hi all

    I am curious on what you do with used chemicals.

    developer - fix - toners -and so on...

    the reason for me to ask is just curiosity. Living in Denmark we have REALLY restrict laws on this, and it make me wonder..

    I am currently trying to learn Bromoil..
    this requires Potassium di chromate.
    Every time I want to buy this, I have to go to the police and apply for clearence...
    and this chemistry goes with so many different interesting photography techniques, so it is a bit annoying - especially when they say NO!

    I am a member of a bromoil group (internet), and even though I have asked, I have never got an answer on what they do when they - as they say: dump it - toss it - dispose of it.....

    what is your policy - personal and/or official...
     
  2. Donald Qualls

    Donald Qualls Member

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    The only use I've made of potassium dichromate is as a contrast enhancer in cyanotype; I use one or two drops of 2% solution in the sensitizer for a 5x7 print (much of which subsequently is washed down the drain in developing the print), haven't yet gone through the first 50 g.

    Your laws must be very strict indeed -- how much dichromate are you trying to buy? I know it's an oxidizer, a carcinogen, and pretty acutely toxic as well, but still, 100 g will go a long way and unless you dump it in a pretty short time or it accumulates without any means of removal, can't possibly present a major pollution problem. Have you tried ammonium dichromate? I've heard it's interchangeable in some or most processes, though typically faster (that is, more sensitive to exposure) than potassium dichromate (bad news is, you may have to use more of it, and it's really no different in the waste stream).

    For my ordinary chemicals, B&W developer and and depleted stop bath just go down the drain after use -- developer working solution, diluted with additional water, will be oxidized to harmless tannin-like materials before it even reaches the treatment plant. Recently, I've been similarly dumping my print fixer (diluted at 1+7 from an automatic processor concentrate that was very affordable) after a single session (10-20 8x10 inch RC prints in a quart, should be about half capacity), on the expectation that any silver will be converted to the insoluble sulfide and precipitate in the pipes before it can do any harm in the city sewer system. The last batch of film fixer I used up, I treated with steel wool, then promptly forgot for a couple months; eventually, I poured off the liquid on the lawn and disposed of the precipitate and very rusty steel wool to the landfill, but the next batch I may just evaporate after a much shorter silver precipitation.

    Given the relative rarity of B&W processing in this digital age (insufficient to keep even one local store carrying paper or chemicals, in a combined community of close to a quarter million), I doubt there's enough going into the drains to cause a problem, even if all of us here dumped everything that way.

    However -- America hasn't anything like the population density of Europe; in between cities, this country is damned near empty, even with 280 million people (some pretty large areas have less than one person per square mile, which is just under 26000 hectares). Denmark has as many people for its area as our denser regions, places like New Jersey or Connecticut, and a lot fewer places to put nasty stuff.

    FWIW, its actually possible to recover silver from exhausted fixer in enough quantity to pay for the process, if you use enough fixer, and almost all commercial labs are now required to do this.
     
  3. gandolfi

    gandolfi Member

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    thanks for the information.

    regarding the "normal" chemicals (dev's and fix) we have a low limit where one as a private can dump it directly in the drain, but where our goverment also makes it possible to deliver it in special places for free.
    Also all pro photo shops are required to recieve used chemicals from private persons..for free..

    as a school I have to pay about 1.6$ pr liter for disposal.(dev - toners).
    we actually get a little money for the fix as they take out the silver..


    about the dichromate: any dichromate requires police approval.
    I once had a tiny bottle of it - not more than 5cm high, and the txt on it made me almost wet my pants.......

    ".. a carcinogen, and pretty acutely toxic as well.."
    yes, but in addition it changes the genoma on male rats (humans?) and it is VERY toxic to the water inviroment...
    whivh is a bad thing, as much of it used is going out in the drain while rinsing..

    I think it is annoying with theese restrictions, but in the same time I am proud of my goverment, as it actually take the inviroment issue serious..

    (I once saw a TV show about the ORWO plant (east Germany) which made so cheap photo stuff...
    but we saw the area outside the plant... in a HUGE area, ALL was dead. no plants - white trees; dead, and frankly it was scary...)
    I know in these digital ages the photographic "problem" is going down, but that said; shouldn't we care about out inviroment?
     
  4. cvik

    cvik Member

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    You have to apply here in Norway as well.

    The Norwegian Ministry of Enivornment maintains a list of approximately 250 chemicals that cause enviromental (and health) damage. Potassium dichromate is one of them.

    Since you're Danish you probably won't have any problem to read these Norwegian documents:

    Health/enviroment/security fact sheet:
    http://logichem.netpower.no/datasheet.aspx?iId=11992&iDepId=1976

    Norwegian Ministry of Environment "OBS-liste":
    http://www.sft.no/publikasjoner/kjemikalier/1910/ta1910.pdf

    Here is a very brief summary of the hazards listed in the fact sheet:
    May cause cancer if inhaled, may cause genetic changes, contact with skin is dangerous, dangerous to swallow, very toxic if inhaled, causes irritation, may cause serious damage to the eyes, may give alleric reaction if in contact with skin, very toxic for waterliving organisms, may cause unwanted long-lasting effects on water environment

    Needless to say, use gloves, preferrably also a mask, store it well and only use it in a well ventilated area.

    I have used pottassium dichromate to reversal develop black and white film. I don't know how it is in Denmark, but here in Norway you may deliver special waste for free at some gas stations.
     
  5. cvik

    cvik Member

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    Kodak had the same problems...
    http://www.coldtype.net/Assets/pdfs/17.Nim.May27.pdf
    (or just google for kodak and environment)
     
  6. Kirk Keyes

    Kirk Keyes Member

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    Dichromates have chromium in the Cr6+ state - also known as hexavalent chromium. It is toxic and carcinogenic. However, chromium in the Cr3+ state, trivalent chromium, is not. You can add some sulfuric acid to the dichromate solution to make the pH low, and then mix it will a dilute water solution containing an organic compound. Something like sugar water should work, or even acidified developer. The red-orange of the dichromate will react with the organic compounds and be converted in to trivalent chromium. You may be able to dispose of this down your drain as a non-commercial entity. (Check with your local regs first.)

    Remember I said dilute organic solutions. And you just need enough acid to make the pH low. And wear gloves. And be careful...

    Kirk
     
  7. laz

    laz Member

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    And you should be proud! Europe is far far ahead of the US in environmental awareness. Much of europe has well considered and scientificly rigorous regulation. Part of the explaination of course is that the countries of the European union know from hard experience how their neighbors environmental actions or inactions impact them; the waste one county dumps in the Rhine on Monday becomes another country's problem on Tuesday.

    Americans worship their freedoms, even those that will eventually kill them.

    -Bob
     
  8. laz

    laz Member

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    Oh my no!
    See in particular section #5:

    STATEMENT ON THE MUTAGENICITY OF TRIVALENT CHROMIUM AND CHROMIUM PICOLINATE

    COM/04/S3 - December 2004

    Introduction

    Background to COM review

    1. Chromium is a Group 6 metallic element which is ubiquitous in the environment where it generally occurs in the hexavalent or trivalent form. Chromium is an essential element, involved in carbohydrate metabolism. Chromium (III) picolinate is a food supplement which is widely available in the UK.

    2. Chromium was one of the minerals recently reviewed by the Expert Group on Vitamins and Minerals (EVM) (http://www.foodstandards.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/vitmin2003.pdf). The EVM noted the reports of genotoxicity associated with chromium picolinate and excluded it from their recommendations for a Safe Upper Level for chromium. Following the publication of the EVM report, the Food Standards Agency advised that consumers should use other forms of trivalent chromium supplements.

    Advice requested from COM

    3. The Food Standards Agency has asked the COM to review the available information on the mutagenicity of trivalent chromium and specifically on chromium picolinate in order to support consumer advice and, if appropriate, to recommend what further studies would be required to draw definite conclusions. A US National Toxicology Program (NTP) carcinogenicity bioassay of chromium picolinate is underway but the final report is unlikely to be available for several years.

    Public Health Issue

    4. Hexavalent chromium compounds are established human carcinogens on the basis of both animal studies and epidemiological evidence of carcinogenicity (ie considered Group 1 carcinogens by the WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) (http://monographs.iarc.fr/). Trivalent chromium compounds have lower toxicity, which is generally attributed to their lower solubility and to their very limited ability to cross cell membranes. Trivalent chromium compounds were considered by IARC to be not classifiable with regard to carcinogenicity in humans (ie Group 3).

    5. Trivalent chromium may be the ultimate carcinogen responsible for the effect of hexavalent chromium since it is able to bind DNA directly. However, it is unclear whether the reduction of hexavalent to trivalent chromium and the subsequent oxidative damage, or the direct binding of trivalent chromium to DNA, or both is responsible.
     
  9. gandolfi

    gandolfi Member

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    hehe...

    I once read about a guy, that developed his Tri-x in "plain" water from the Rhine...
    sounds scary, or?

    "Americans worship their freedoms, even those that will eventually kill them."
    yes - but they have more fun dying...
     
  10. laz

    laz Member

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    In the late '60s early '70s the Cayoga River near Clevland Ohio would occassionally catch fire! Can you imagine that call to the fire department. "help our river is on fire!"

    :smile:
     
  11. Bill Hahn

    Bill Hahn Member

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    Have you heard the Randy Newman song "Burn On, Big River"?

    ("Cause the Cuyahoga River goes smokin' throught my dreams!")
     
  12. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    i only use developer fix and fix remover and they all go in a 30 gallon drum when i am done with them. about 1 time a year +/- a waste hauler comes by and takes it away. he gives me a receipt for my "cold storage" file cabinet and in about a month's time a get a check for $$ which covers the for the cost of the disposal and will buy me a couple bottles of wine. even if i happened to be a "hobbiest" i would feel kind of guilty dumping the stuff in the drain seeing that we have a septic system and neighborhood kids play in our front lawn ( leech field ). even though most of the chemistry breaks down, and silver reclaimation companies like itronics make fertalizer out of spent fixer, i would feel pretty bad if one of the local kids got sick because of my callousness.
     
  13. psvensson

    psvensson Member

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    Swedish wastewater restrictions are completely out of proportion to the danger posed by home darkrooms. Most municipalities forbid any photographic chemicals in the drains, which is ridiculous, since standard B&W developer, stop bath and fixer is harmless.

    That includes spent fixer - as Donald notes, the silver precipitates as silver sulfide before it even reaches the treatment plant.
     
  14. Kirk Keyes

    Kirk Keyes Member

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    That's interesting. I know that hexavalent is a much greater concern than the tri, at least from the EPA side of things... But the USEPA has established the Federal MCL for Total Chromium at 100 parts per billion - hexavalent or otherwise. (Actually, I don't think they have limits (yet) for hexavalent Cr in drinking water.)
     
  15. Fulvio

    Fulvio Member

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    Emil,

    Potassium dichromate is a Chr6+ compound. Hexavalent Chromium is highly dangerous for human/animal health and environment. It's known to be a human cancirogen, may cause burns on your skin, severe damage to your eyes, and there are also people allergic to it (a test at the hospital can determine if you're allergic to chromium). One should always use gloves, glasses and mask while using this chemical. Anything which came in contact with it is to be considered contaminated. Be careful to not let some of this chemical go on your clothes.

    Here are somoe MSDS about potassium dichromate:
    http://www.atmos.umd.edu/~russ/MSDS/potassium_dichromate.htm
    http://ptcl.chem.ox.ac.uk/MSDS/PO/potassium_dichromate.html

    Disposing of exhaust dichromate from developing baths can be a problem and a legal issue too if your local regulations are very strict. Since you teach in a photography school, I believe you can dump toxic liquids there. People who don't have this possibility should ask if some lab nearby would be so kind to get rid of it.

    Anyway, you can also reduce chromium from hexavalent to its trivalent form Chr3+. This is always toxic, but far less than Chr6+. To reduce the chromium you can use potassium metabisulphite (about 5% concentration or more). Hexavalent Chromium (Chr6+) is yellow-orange colored (turns very yellow when it is put into an alkaline environment). The Trivalent Chromium is light green/blue color (very nice to see). Since this difference in color, you can always tell when the potassium dichromate contains Chr6+ or Chr3+.

    I've recently bought 1kg of Potassium Dichromate to start experimenting with gum bichromates and other things... It's still in its safety bottle.

    If you have problems to buy this chemical in Denmark perhaps I could bring it from here...
     
  16. OldBikerPete

    OldBikerPete Member

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    I suppose it depends on your rate of usage. My rate is about 10 8x10 color prints/month. I put all my wast chemicals into a large PVC tray and let it evaporate. At infrequent intervals I collect the solid residue and take it to our local council as solid chemical waste.