how hazardous are these substances really ?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by bonk, Nov 17, 2007.

  1. bonk

    bonk Member

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    I am using our kitchen for developing my b&w films and now I am wondering how hazardous the chemicals I use realy are. This is what I use:

    - XTOL developer
    - TMAX fixer
    - Ilford Iflostop
    - Tetenal Mirasol 2000 Antistatic
    - Kodak Rapid Selenium Toner
    - lots of distilled water
    - TMAX film

    Especially the selenium toner and the fixer smell very ... unhealthy.

    About the toxicity of selenium wiki says the following:

    Sounds pretty scary ...

    For each of the mentioned chemicals Is it ok to
    1. work without gloves
    2. inhale their perspirations (work without mask)
    3. spill the used chemicals into the toilet
    4. spill the used chemicals into the kitchen sink
    5. generally use them in a kitchen (no matter how careful I am, I am sure some drops of the chemicals end up at places where food or dishes will be later, especially near the sink)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 17, 2007
  2. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

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    :tongue: The packages they came in should tell you. You should also be able to find the MSDS by a Google search. All of these can be washed up. Be careful with the water, though. It can drown you:tongue: !
     
  3. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Do not allow any food containers to become contaminated with photo chemicals. They can react with some plastics and metals and be carried through a wash process.

    Selenium is the worst of the lot above. A bad smell is not an indication of toxic nature. Cyanide smells like almonds and Phosgene smells like fresh cut grass, but both are deadly. The smell of fixer is probably either ammonia or sulfite depending on pH. Neither is very poisonous in the amount you might inhale, but rather are more bothersome.

    At worst you might have an allergy to one of these chemicals, so always wear rubber gloves.

    PE
     
  4. walter23

    walter23 Subscriber

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    I would be extremely careful with the selenium. Don't contaminate anything in your kitchen with it. I wouldn't even use the stuff in my kitchen.

    I wouldn't do much else in my kitchen long term, but sometimes it's unavoidable :wink:

    When I do use the kitchen sink, I wash it and the surrounding areas very thoroughly and try my best not to spill anything. As for chemistry I have to admit I just dump it down the sink (ilford rapid fix, ID-11, and stop bath).
     
  5. superloaf

    superloaf Member

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    don't even come into contact with the selenium. IOW, don't let it touch your skin--use gloves, tongs, robots, kids, whatever to protect yourself. if i'm correct here, selenium is a cumulative heavy metel whereas most other photo chemicals are ok in moderation, although obviously none of them are going to do you any good.

    but, yeah, selenium is one you probably don't want to even let come in contact with the kitchen sink.
     
  6. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    Isn't selenium found in some anti-dandruff shampoos?
     
  7. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Selenium is indeed found in many dandruff shampoos and also in dietary supplements. It is not all that toxic, but I would never use it in the kitchen under any circumstances, nor would I put my hand in a solution containing it without rubber gloves.

    The dandruff shampoo has a regulated level, but the concentrated and diluted toner may exceed levels recommended by the various governments.

    Anchell and Troop say that Pyro compounds used in toning developers are the most poisonous compounds you can use. Selenium would be second on that list IMHO.

    PE
     
  8. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

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    I didn't mean for that smiley face to show up at the beginning.

    The skin is a barrier to most chemicals but not all. The compound of selenium that one finds in scalp treatments is not very good, if at all, as a toner for silver prints. The same OH part of NaOH that can turn your body oil to soap makes MgOH an antacid or a laxative if you take enough. Selenium can be on either end of a compound, as can its neighbor sulfur. I would not let the one, I forget which, come in contact with my skin but have probably used the other come in contact with my scalp. Elemental sulfur is not particularly harmful, but sulfur dioxide in water forms sulfurous acid, which can eat steel. Years ago, in Morgantown WV, we had a chemical plant that liberated large quantities of sulfur dioxide. Rain puddles became sulfurous acid baths and cars (this was before undercoating) had lace fenders.

    Any compound that you worry about should be investigated, but by its trade name or a generic name, not by the individual ingredients or elements. If I mix sodium hydroxide and hydrochloric acid in the right proportions, I will get salt water.

    Excuse my wanderings.
     
  9. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    Richard Knoppow on Pyro toxicity: Source (http://www.viewcamera.com/pyro.html)

    “Pyrogallic acid is toxic but one must be careful in interpreting MSDS: mostly they are written for industrial users of substances who use and store them in very large quantity.

    Pyro is a sensitizer and can cause very strong skin reactions. It should be kept out of the eyes for the same reason. It is capable of causing life threatening damage if ingested in fairly large quantity. It will irritate the lungs and respiratory system if inhaled. Pyro can penetrate the skin but so can many other substances used in photography.
    There have been NO studies of the chronic effects of Pyro exposure. Pyro is no more hazardous than several other developing agents. It should be treated with respect but there is no unusual hazard in using it.
    Since airborne Pyro is dangerous to breathe in, it is wise to mix Pyro developers while wearing a dust mask and facial protection. You should wear nitrile gloves. Try to avoid getting the stuff into the air. It is in light flakes which become airborne easily so some care is needed.
    Mixed Pyro developers are only moderately hazardous but it is a good idea not to get your hands into them. Use nitrile gloves (latex is not good enough and some people are sensitive to latex). You don't need a dust mask to use the mixed developer; it is only the airborne flakes which are hazardous. Another reason for using gloves is that Pyro produces a very persistent brown stain on anything it is on when exposed to the air including your hands and cloths.”
     
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  10. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Tim Rudman on Pyro:

    The lowest known lethal dose of pyro was 28 mg/kg (Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances, 1985 - 86) on page 69 of his book "The Book of Pyro and the PMK Formula". Also, quoted in Anchell and Troop as the most dangerous chemical in the darkroom today.

    PE
     
  11. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    Sorry, Argument from authority, argumentum ad verecundiam is a logical fallacy, because the validity of a claim does not necessarily follow from the credibility of the source.

    Also, If one wants to avoid contact with hydroxybenzenes (like hydroquinone, catechcol and pyrogallol) avoid barbeque's, smoke from wood fires and especially avoid tobacco smoke. Also, avoid Coffee. Include Dektol and any other developers that contain hydroquinone in your avoidance list.
     
  12. fhovie

    fhovie Subscriber

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    That really is quite bad - I always use nitrile gloves and am careful about dust - haven't had any problems being careful. PC-TEA and XTOL are mostly vitamin C - I guess the phenidone is a bit toxic - maybe less than metol though. Of course when compared with other household chemicals; ant spray, oven cleaner, paint stripper, certain cleaners and pharmaceutical items, pretty ordinary danger levels - after all, I do pump my own gas with MBTE in it. Now if we compared that with the chemicals in our food, dark room photography is probably safer than many of the things we do without much thought - like soda pop and manufactured foods - fast food and junk food - processed meat and cheese products. Really scary stuff. I do think it is a good idea to keep the paws out of the soup and don't breath chemical dust.


     
  13. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

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    Yes. Thomas Aquinas and I suppose Aristotle as well consudered the argumant from authority to be the weakest.

    I worked on a labor crew at an oil well equipment manyfacturer's factory one summer. I heard an argument between two of my compatriots that ended thusly: "If you don't believe me just ask Joe" said one. "Why should I ask him? He'll just say the same thing you're asayin, and I know you're alyin'" said the other. I'm sure neither was a Thomistic scholar, but at least one had the right idea.
     
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  15. bonk

    bonk Member

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    Ouch. To be honest - ignorant how I am - I already used a small amount of Kodak Rapid Selenium Toner in the kitchen sink and without gloves (about 200 ml) yesterday. Allthough I was extremely carefull that nothing gets on my hands and nothing gets anywhere else but in the film tank and the beaker I am still a little bit worried now. I spilled the used dillution into the kitchen sink.

    After reading all this I already cleaned the whole kitchen twice (using plain water with dish liquid). Is this enough or should I do something else? How likely is it that I harmed myself. Are there any symptoms to watch out for now? I read a garlic taste in the mouth would such a symptome?
     
  16. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    Are you wearing Nitrile Gloves when you work with photo chemistry?

    Here is a URL for a Photo Net selenium spill cleanup post: http://photo.net/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=007Yfk
     
  17. john_s

    john_s Member

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    If you've done a good rinse down I doubt that you're in the slightest danger. Many people take a selenium supplement for health reasons and you might have just got a one or two day dose of selenium. The significant danger lies in frequent, regular exposure to something. That includes the foods that are well known to be not healthy.
     
  18. Ross Chambers

    Ross Chambers Member

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    "Overexposure - Health Hazards in Photography" Susan D Shaw & Monona Rossol Allworth Press New York ISBN 0-9607118-6-4

    They don't cover back pains from hulking heavy cameras about, but for all chemistry issues they are thorough.

    Possibly one of the most important photography books I've bought -- after sticking my bare paws into hydroquinone based developers long enough to gain a temporary rash. I never contemplated putting selenium in the kitchen sink, however!

    Regards - Ross
     
  19. Kirk Keyes

    Kirk Keyes Member

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    You can't trust this source either. The edition I looked in was way off on the properties and therefore the hazards of ferricyanide - it had way over stated the hazard.

    By the way, do you all know that sodium is considered a heavy metal? And oral exposure of too much sodium will kill you too.
     
  20. Murray@uptowngallery

    Murray@uptowngallery Member

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    Point of trivia - I think the isolated Selenium is not literally a heavy metal but I understand the association with the toxicity and endurance attributed to heavy metals. I call Selenium a semiconductor - I can't remember what that group is called in the Periodic Table..Transitional?

    So, what happens to photos that one tones with selenium toner? Are they then bad news to have around? I haven't heard that yet.

    How long does Kodak selenium toner keep in a half-full plastic bottle? I was given some and figured using it was better than trying to dispose of it all at once.
     
  21. tim rudman

    tim rudman Member

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    I didn't write this book PE. Did you mean Gordon Hutchings?
    Tim
     
  22. bonk

    bonk Member

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    I guess I will get some of those "nitrile gloves" you mentioned. Is there anything to watch out for or do I just google "nitrile gloves" and buy what I find? I mainly find those medical ones. Can I use them for everything else in the darkroom as well? Can I wash and reuse them?
     
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  23. Martin Reed

    Martin Reed Advertiser

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    I tend to agree. A few years ago a colleague regularly used a technique he had worked up which included selenium toner heated on a dishwarmer, and his darkroom was non too well ventilated either. On one occasion he became convinced he had poisoned himself with selenium and took himself off to the relevant London hospital (forget which one, but it was that one dealing with poisoning issues like this). After going through this little used test it transpired that on a scale of 1-10 he wasn't even registering on the bottom rung.

    So although this isn't claiming a case for dropping precautions, with good darkroom practice there should be no problems with selenium.
     
  24. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    My understanding is that with sensible handling none of the chemicals we use in our darkroom should present any hazard to health.

    As an aside I recall that the selenium required by our bodies, and that used in toning are two different forms. Can anyone confirm, or refute that?:confused: It seems relevant least someone take a swig of the Kodak product as a diet supplement.
     
  25. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Apologies to Tim, yes it was Gordon Hutchings. And IDK how I did that as his (Gordon's) book and A&T were sitting side by side next to me as I wrote that!

    So sorry for the error.

    PE
     
  26. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    This is quite true, however it is difficult to get volunteers to test the toxicity of tri hydroxy benzenes. Many sources do quote LD50 in rats and mice of all of these hydroxy compounds, and of them all, hydroquinone and metol are rather low causing kidney and liver damage but have a rather high LD50.

    The tri hydroxy compounds kick toxiciity up a notch as Emeril would say, at least according to several sources. As you say, quoting them does not make them valid, but why take a chance and be an unwilling 'volunteer'. Use rubber gloves and use a mask when mixing powders.

    BTW, the most toxic materials in charcoal fires and tobacco smoke by far are the benzopyrans as a class. They are major carcinogens and are also found on the surface of BBQd meats. In fact, you are getting more of the pyrans than you are of the HQ derivatives in smoke. HQ in smoke is almost an oxymoron as a reductant is not a major product of oxidation. You might want to check your sources on that.

    Quinones OTOH are found in smoke and also in colored autumn leaves. Anthroquinones are a product of ageing of leaves when frost damages them. Quinhydrone was used for years as the colorant in green ink. It is a green byproduct of the oxidation of HQ in the absence of sulfite.

    PE