Formaldehyde for the fishes?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by psvensson, Nov 2, 2005.

  1. psvensson

    psvensson Member

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    I've been paranoid about trying lith printing because my darkroom is poorly ventilated and most of the developer formulas contain formaldehyde in one form or another. See the fruit of my paranoia, a simple formaldehyde-free formula, at http://www.apug.org/forums/article.php?a=171

    But then I read a post by Bill Williams on the pure-silver list who noted that two products that remove chlorine and ammonia from aquarium water, ClorAm-X and Amquel, are sodium formaldehyde bisulfite and useful in making lith developer. See the post at http://www.freelists.org/archives/pure-silver/09-2005/msg00213.html.

    ClorAm-X web page: http://www.aquascienceresearch.com/cloram-x.html

    In this form, the formaldehyde is apparently not very dangerous - even the notoriously scary City of Tucson Health and Safety page at http://www.ci.tucson.az.us/arthazards/photo2.html goes easy on it.

    Obviously the sulfite ion binds very strongly to formaldehyde, and appears to turn it into a less harmful form. So my question is: does this happens in a lith developer that contains sulfite and formaldehyde, and does that mean the formaldehyde in the developer isn't as dangerous as free formaldehyde?

    As I've understood from various postings, the purpose of formaldehyde in a lith developer is to keep the level of free sulfite low, so that infectious development can take place. One would then expect the formaldehyde to be in excess to start with, and be gradually freed from the sulfite ions as these oxidize, producing more free formaldehyde, which speaks against the developers being safe.

    But on the other hand, one would expect oxidation of sulfite to occur in an aquarium as well, and that doesn't seem to be the case - the maker Clor-Amx says the fish can be eaten after their water has been treated.
     
  2. Gerald Koch

    Gerald Koch Member

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    Formaldehyde is not very poisonous and is more of an irritant than anything else. Years ago every high school science major spent hours dissecting a formalin saturated frog. In the early 1900's, when refrigeration was expensive, formalehyde was used to help preserve milk!!

    As has been mentioned most of the formalehyde in lith developers is in a non-volatile form. If your darkroom is well ventilated I wouldn't worry.
     
  3. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Sodium Formaldehyde Bisulfite actually can release either SO2 gas, or Formaldehyde itself under the right conditions. It does not bind that tightly.

    Read that notice again. It does not say that it is safe, but rather does not fall under the jurisdiction..... That is quite different.

    I have tested Sodium Formaldehyde Bisulfite in stabilizers and have a patent on its use in color processing. It does indeed act like formaldehyde. IDK what it does to fish, but if they say the fish are safe, they probably are. It must be used in very low concentration, as the sulfite and formalin in the compound as well as the salt content itself would not be great for fish.

    Boiling your aquarium water before use and aerating it again would probably be best. As for using Sodium Formaldehyde Bisulfite, it must be used in rather high concentration in photo solutions to get the correct effect due to the rate of release of the formalin and sulfite.

    PE
     
  4. psvensson

    psvensson Member

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    Thanks for clarifying, PE. It looks like I might be sticking to formaldehyde-free.

    But the company does say unequivocally that: "All of the above listed products are both suitable and legal for use with food fish and shellfishes
    intended for human consumption." So it's not like they're hiding behind the FDA's statement that it's not its job to look at their safety.
     
  5. laz

    laz Member

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    Oh they most certainly are. "All of the above listed products are both suitable and legal for use with food fish and shellfishes
    intended for human consumption." Says absolutly nothing about the safety of their product only restates that it is not illegal. There have been many cases of dangerous substances that did not "fall under the jurisdiction of the FDA". The most notable example of this situation is the vitamin and suppliment industry which "does not fall under the jurisdiction of the FDA". over the years several suppliments not falling under the jurisdiction of the FDA have proved to be very dangerous.
     
  6. psvensson

    psvensson Member

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    "Solutions containing approximately 21% ClorAm-X® have been
    shown to be nontoxic and nonirritating to humans."

    http://www.aquascienceresearch.com/PDFs/ClorAm-X PDS.PDF, page 3
     
  7. laz

    laz Member

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    Please don't take offence or think I'm itching for a fight over this. I'm sorry I didn't explain where I'm coming from. Being a clinical trial research coordinator who has experience with the type of studies referred to in the company literature you cite, I can look at these statements with much more perspective than the lay person.

    The safety statements made by the company are good only as far as they go. The toxcicity studies referred to are very gross indicators and do nothing to address long term issues. The lobster study they refer to measured levels in edible tissues This specifically excludes the liver in which it is well known toxics collect and concentrate. The lobster liver is that greenish yellow material often called "tamale" which is consumed by many knowingly and unknowingly as a ingredient is such dishes as lobster newberg.

    Remember for oh so many years smoking was proved to be a safe and even beneficial!
     
  8. psvensson

    psvensson Member

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    Yeah, I see where you're coming from. I'm not saying the stuff is safe, but I do believe the company is trying to tell us it's safe. The FDA, in effect, hasn't said anything.
     
  9. laz

    laz Member

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    You got it spot on! I'll do a literature search and see what I can find on those studies. I'll let ya know if anything pops up!

    Oh and for the record, no mater waht anybody says stay away from Formaldehyde! Your lungs will thank you! :wink:
     
  10. Jennifer

    Jennifer Member

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    Hi,
    Besides fish, etc, you may not be able to use it at all. I myself can not tolerate the stuff. I feel sick, and upsets my tummy. I did do for a short time many years ago E-6 and C-41, and did not have a problem. I stay away from anything listing the use of formaldehyde.

    Jennifer
     
  11. laz

    laz Member

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  12. gbroadbridge

    gbroadbridge Member

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    I only glanced at that doco, but most photographic chemicals use formaldehyde in a solution. Even at C41 process temperature the amount evaporated into a gaseous form would be miniscule in a typical sized darkroom, especially if ventilated by opening a window.

    I never worry much about C41 colour stabilizers when processing film - I just keep the window open and wash my hands


    Graham.
     
  13. laz

    laz Member

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    very true of course, but if one has a choice then the less toxic route is always best. And remember that the most problematic source of formaldehyde is a solid - urea-formaldhyde.
    -Bob
     
  14. Kirk Keyes

    Kirk Keyes Member

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    So I need to watch out fro the formaldehyde from you particle board counter tops more than I do from my photographic solutions?? I don't think so...
     
  15. laz

    laz Member

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    <sigh> you mis-read me completely. Look at the quoted statement (included in my post)Originally Posted by gbroadbridge:
    My point was that even in a solid, formaldehyde gas escapes into the surrounding environment.

    Now say you're sorry :wink: