Is my home color killing me? lol

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by EASmithV, Nov 13, 2012.

  1. EASmithV

    EASmithV Member

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    So exactly how toxic IS the chemistry used for C-41 and E6? I was using disposable gloves but i found them irritating and when I ran out I didn't feel like getting more.
    I guess the biggest worry is the blix and the stabilizer? I've gotten both on my skin and into small cuts, as it's an invariable feature of my "day job".

    Is this incredibly stupid, kinda so/so stupid, or is the toxicity and cancerous nature of these chemicals slightly hyped by hippies, the EPA, the state of California, etc?

    If it helps i'm using an Arista E6 kit, Unicolor C-41 kit, and Kodak Flexicolor III Stabilizer for both.
     
  2. TexasLangGenius

    TexasLangGenius Member

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    Comment deleted for my idiocy...

    I think I'll be banishing myself from here for a while, because I feel ashamed at what I said...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 13, 2012
  3. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    I imagine that chemicals entering open wounds would have fairly serious repercussions on a repeat basis, if not immediate. I'm surprised to learn of that happening. Extractive ventilation is also a critical consideration

    TexasLangGenius


    You wouldn't worry about it? And you don't exactly explain just why, nor do you explain how or why cancer is caused or your strange, dislocated judgement.

    I think a number of factors can prevent cancer, even if exposed to the materials.
    Go on. I'm all ears.

    I have a background in oncology medicine and immunology through allografting (transplantaion). Cancer is an attack at gene level and cannot be counter-attacked by hitting it with a feather, or whatever else you might want to imagine as effective against it. Perhaps give your commentary a bit more considered thought based on truth and science and not populist opinion.
     
  4. EASmithV

    EASmithV Member

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    After I noticed, I rinsed the cut with water very well. However there were no immediate repercussions, and as of yet no long term ones. However, I'm trying to prevent any severe consequences. It's happened more than once, but how many times I can't say. Just trying to eliminate any long-term health hazards. I'm doing this all in a small mud room sink that doesn't really have any ventilation, but I was more worried about direct skin contact. Thinking about it, maybe I should be more concerned about ventilation? I can't very well do this outside, and my options are limited.
     
  5. Muihlinn

    Muihlinn Member

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    Get a processor, wear gloves only once when loading/unloading the stuff and forget about fiddling with chemicals and darkness all the process long.

    I'm not much into how toxic it is, as home color processing never got me, but a friend of mine used to develop paper without gloves dipping fingers to pick up the prints (RA4) and after a while he had a truly severe allergic reaction wose treatment lasted more than a year long. He wasn't able to touch anything without pain and had to wear cotton gloves all day long for such time. I'd go with gloves.
     
  6. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    Any cut no matter how small or large must be protected from the ingress of chemicals, not necessarily those limited to darkroom use. Oils, greese, washing powders, dishwash... it's a long list, can all present quite serious skin and blood problems if they are repeatedly allowed to get in. Yes, wearing gloves is a splendid idea, discarding them after each session; not a great many people give consideration to skin safety when working in the darkroom, but I think they should. A mud room sounds romantic, sort of: do you mean wattle and daub/mudbrick? But no ventilation, well... something might need to be done there; inhaling fumes routinely used in the darkroom isn't going to do you much good long term (emphysema is one complication from long exposure to inhaled chemicals, but there are many, including benzines and polyaromatics that are chiefly the culprits). But you'll sort something out and come up trumps — you did so with your website! :smile:
     
  7. BMbikerider

    BMbikerider Member

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    I think if you are really concerned then you have to wear gloves if you are dealing with colour chemicals. I used to suffer from small splits in the skin on my right hand only which is the hand I used to agitate colour prints in the nova deep-tank processor. The developer was OK but the bleach fix was pretty savage stuff and it felt like a hot pin had been stuck into my fingers when splashes got to the splits.

    Except for things like selenium toner I don't think that there are any problems with chemical smells although some find them objectionable. With selenium there is a warning on the concentrate anyway about using it in confined spaces.

    When in their working solution strength photo chemicals are pretty benign so long as they are not ingested and if you do, (I would say unlikely except in an accident) it is a pretty stupid thing to do anyway.
     
  8. Mr Bill

    Mr Bill Member

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    It's kinda dumb, not that it's immediately dangerous to you, but because you might develop such a severe skin sensitivity that you won't be able to work with color chemicals again.

    The color developers are considered to be "skin sensitizers." That is, you might handle the developer daily for who knows how long, and then suddenly, one day, your hands start to itch, get red and irritated, and the skin gets cracks. After a few days away from the chemicals, it starts to heal. But the next time, even a year later, you so much as touch a doorknob contaminated with developer, the reaction comes right back.

    I don't see any recent recs, but it used to be recommended to wash hands thoroughly with a low pH soap after handling developer. So I think this is always a good practice if you can find a proper soap. (Phisoderm used to be the standard, but I'm not sure if it's a low pH product anymore. Nearly all conventional hand soaps have a higher pH.)

    After many years in high volume processing, I've only seen a couple people develop the allergy, but they had to change jobs because of it. Perhaps it will never affect you, but why take the chance?

    ps: we always liked those disposable blue nitrile rubber gloves.
     
  9. derwent

    derwent Member

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    I haven't moved to colour yet but even with black and white I have a big 100 pack of disposable gloves and use a new pair each time.
    I'm not convinced that an occasional dabble is going to wreak havoc on me but there are certainly things in photo chems that I would rather not soak my skin in.
    Disposable gloves are a cheap precaution, I would use them.
    Think of them like condoms....you might never have a problem but if you do you'll wish like hell you took precautions!


    Besides, your hands don't stink of chemicals for hours afterwards...
     
  10. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

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    Dear EASmithV,

    Please don't be the guy they point to as the example for making home processing chemicals illegal. ;>)

    Neal Wydra
     
  11. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    It's not the blix or the stabilizer that can cause problems. Rather it is the color developer. The developing agents used can be skin irritants in sensitive indiividuals. Gloves are strongly recommended. There is nothing in the chemicals used in either process that will make you sick unless you drink the solutions.
     
  12. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    It's what's known as" suffering for your art"
     
  13. MartinP

    MartinP Member

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    There was the mention of the gloves being irritating. That could be because of reuse and having disgusting things growing inside unwashed gloves. Or it could be due to re-use of contaminated household style gloves (which are thereby no longer clean where they contact you). Or it could be due to using latex gloves, which are both not proof against photographic chemicals and can cause an allergic reaction themselves.

    For colour materials and for toning I'd suggest single-use nitrile gloves, sold as nitrile examination gloves by your local pharmacist. They are ridiculously cheap and are thin enough to use comfortably.

    It is also sensible to fix equipment leaks and figure out how to avoid splashes, simply as good lab practice to avoid cross contamination in your processing. Ventilation is wise, for long-term comfort if nothing else. There are no standard chemicals that will cause you to drop down dead - it seems more a case of possible long term reactions with repeated exposure over years of daily use. This is easy to prevent, so it seems foolish not to avoid the small risk.
     
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  15. Terry Christian

    Terry Christian Subscriber

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    I think have a low-level latex allergy: they're irritating to me if I wear them for more than a few minutes, so I can relate. I use nitrile or vinyl gloves instead, with no problems at all. Wearing gloves is cheap insurance that I'll be able to continue my photographic pursuits for a lifetime.
     
  16. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Member

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    I would reconsider, if possible, the entire practice by switching to one-shot solutions (you breath much less chemicals that way, I do believe), laboratory pipettes or syringes to mix chemicals, ventilation of the darkroom. When I mix my chemicals I never happen to touch them and I now forget about apron, gloves etc. as I find that attention in manipulation is key. Have space at your disposition, always make gentle, slow movements. Never "park" a flask near the edge of the furniture. Immediately close the flask after dilution (before agitation) etc.

    Breathing "fumes" is probably my greatest intake of chemical rubbish but generally speaking an open window will dilute vapours from my already diluted (one-shot) baths. I suppose the worst case is when developing prints, by staying in fact with your nose just over the chemicals. That I think would certainly require a thought-about ventilation.

    Chemicals used for colour developing are not so poisonous that single events might give problems (wounds apart). Just wash immediately, and don't drink. It's the continuous small contact (fumes, or drops from a hasty preparation) that is probably to be considered mostly.

    And do label any bottle with the content.
     
  17. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Just to add to the humour, the post next to this on the list at the moment is "Itching" :D to get into large format

    pentaxuser
     
  18. RedSun

    RedSun Member

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    I'm not sure if color chemicals are more toxic than BW chemicals. But it is always recommend to use safely precautions. This is particularly important if you have contact with the chemicals on a regular basis (daily). The things you can do:

    Avoid direct contact withe chemicals;
    Wear gloves in mixing chemicals from powder or concentrates, some even wears goggles with liquid concentrate
    Wear gloves and/or use tongs when developing in open tanks
    Chemical area must be ventilated to the outside
    Clean spill immediately and thoroughly.
    Avoid hand contact with eyes, nose and mouth.
    Wash hands immediately if get contact with chemicals
    Wash hands thoroughly after each darkroom session with soap

    For casual users, the darkroom chemicals are safe. But the safety procedures should be followed.
     
  19. Athiril

    Athiril Subscriber

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    They sell disposable nitrile gloves at the supermarket here, look into that.

    Also depending on the stabiliser, that's the one I'd worry about, as the agent can be carcinogenic. Though think most home kits just use hexamine, but that can decompose to formaldehyde anyway.
     
  20. RedSun

    RedSun Member

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    I use the gloves that you can find at supermarkets and Home Depot, like the ones you use to wash dishes. They are medium thickness, not sure if latex or rubber. Easy to use in handling chemical mixing and bottles. Since I use rotary tanks and drums, I do not even get in contact with the chemicals.
     
  21. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    In decreasing order of toxicity for both C41, RA4 and E6; Color Developer, First Developer, Stabilizer, Bleach, Blix, Fix.

    The developing agents are the baddies in any developer but they are only bad if you get them in an open cut, or swallow some from a finger or under a fingernail for example. The stabilizer has ingredients that kill bacterial and fungi and therefore are mildly toxic if you inhale or swallow some. From there on down, the blix, bleach and fix are almost harmless unless swallowed. The Iron can give you a liver problem if you swallow too much and the silver (in used fix or blix) can be a problem.

    These chemicals are really not that toxic if you work with them. I know of a lot of old guys around town that made a living for years with these chemicals. My neighbor used to make B&W developing agents in his lab for years.

    PE
     
  22. Bob-D659

    Bob-D659 Member

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    To sum it all up, no open sores in the darkroom, or wear gloves and wash your hands before eating. :smile:
     
  23. EASmithV

    EASmithV Member

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    Cheap gloves and a fan outside the door blowing the air into a larger room... got it.
     
  24. RedSun

    RedSun Member

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    This is cool. Surprised the B&W folks do not come here to chase me any more :wink:. With this, I do not know what the folks who process color prints in open trays think. The fumes from the open trays are not healthy. I'm not sure if they can or do wear gloves when they process sheet films in open tanks. Oh well....
     
  25. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    The printer who taught me darkroom skills from 1987 to 1993 developed skin cancer not from sun exposure, but from decades of developing and printing his B&W and colour prints. In his later years was greatly troubled by cancer of the esophagus. His family had a history of heart problems, but no pattern of cancer. When he died, his wife converted the darkroom into a storage space, the wider studio into a gallery and tossed out four enlargers by dumping them on the street. He never wore gloves or glasses, had just one extractor fan, two safelights and a cocktail of chemicals that the fire brigade once described during an inspection as "having enough firepower to flatten the town" (and the town wasn't that big, about 8 streets and 400 people). He could in real terms have been described as cavalier and "just get on with it". A bit of a larrikin with a mind of his own. But he was a bloody good printer of both colour and B&W and no doubt his images are enduring to this day.
     
  26. Mr Bill

    Mr Bill Member

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    PE, I've got to lean on you a bit about this, because so many here trust you explicitly. You are dismissing the skin sensitizer aspect, which can have pretty bad consequences. I've spent a lot of years with large photofinishers and have seen problems, even with best attempts to head them off. I've seen people go out of work for weeks until their skin healed, and who had to leave their processing jobs because they could no longer be near the chemicals. Granted, it is a very small proportion of ALL the people in those jobs, but...it could end up being anyone here.

    I'm going to quote excerpts from a Kodak 'Z' manual, one of the bibles of photofinishers. It's Using KODAK EKTACOLOR Chemicals, Z-130 01/12 (page 1-12)

    I had read all of these precautions previously, but when my boss, who had freely handled developers for 10 years, picked up the allergy, I changed my ways! If he entered a mixing area, and turned a doorknob, the next day his hand looked like a poisin ivy reaction. I didn't want the same thing happening to me (and fortunately it never has).