jug of selenium toner on table tips over = what a disaster

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Sean, Feb 5, 2005.

  1. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member Admin

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    What a disaster I've had with a recent chemical spill. I'll start from the beginning.. My darkroom is next to my office that I work from home a few days a week. The last two days working from home I feel uncomfortable with my breathing. I chalk it up to hot weather and poor venting in my office. I then go into my darkroom to get something and find selenium toner all over my table and floor, a good 4 sq. meters fairly saturated, AND a massive stench. Obviously some of the fumes were getting into my home office and I had no idea that's why I was not feeling well for a few days, sigh. So today I spent about 3 hours cleaning it all up. I used a special fumes mask to keep from dropping dead in the process. I am not sure yet if my darkroom will always have a selenium smell now or it will eventually wear off. So far I think I got most of it. Is there anything I should be worried about now? Could the fumes for a few days deposited harmful substance on anything in the room? I still have no idea how the jug tipped over several days ago. Thanks
     
  2. Christian Olivet

    Christian Olivet Member

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    Not sure the fumes will be too harmful. Obviously you don't want to breathe that stuff, but it is just amonia smell. It will go away soon. The selenium itself should be a heck of a lot more toxic because once in your body it stays there.
     
  3. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    the selenium doesn't eget airborne.. it is deposited as a solid in almost everything, it shoul dstart looking like a pinkinsh/brown powder coating most metals and stufff.
    Thew fumes were ammonia smell,
     
  4. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member Admin

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    yeah lots of pink/brown stains and puddles, I was able to clean all of that. Should be ok now :smile:
     
  5. Phillip P. Dimor

    Phillip P. Dimor Member

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    I'm not exactly the most knowledgable person on this sort of thing and I am sure that there are plenty of APUG'ers who are much better suited to answer this sort of question..

    I suppose it depends on whether or not the water in the selenium toner solution evaporates and if the selenium is left behind only to be kicked up into the air, etc..

    Was it a stock solution or working solution? Heavily diluted?
     
  6. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member Admin

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    it was working solution 1 to 15
     
  7. matt miller

    matt miller Subscriber

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    Was the jug not capped?
     
  8. John McCallum

    John McCallum Member

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    Oh d#rn! :surprised:
    I'd be careful of the ammonia also. Really not good for the health. The good thing about it, is that the smallest amounts are easily detectable.
     
  9. kwmullet

    kwmullet Subscriber

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    Sean,

    As memory serves, don't you have a young child with another one on the way? If it was me, I'd try and keep all three to the other side of the house, circulate outside air in, and maybe bring a package of KRST or something with the ingredients to my pediatrician to sound them out.

    I'm probably just paranoid, though. Dianna insisted on re-painting most of our rooms when serious nesting hit toward the end of her pregnancy with Alec, regardless of my insistance that she not do so because of paint fumes.

    -KwM-
     
  10. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member Admin

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    It was capped but not tight enough. I guess I must have been in a rush when I handled it last.

    kwmullet: fortunately the darkroom is outside of the main house in it's own room, and locked so the little one was no where near the area..
     
  11. bmac

    bmac Member

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    You got off easy! We moved 14 houses down the same street 3 weeks before our first was born :smile:
     
  12. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    Sean one of the things most of us are lacking today is selenium in our diet. What residual there is is not going to be harmful considering it was working solution. You cleaned it up which would more than dilute it further. If you do have any remaining fears, get some good old vinegar and whipe the area down. It will get rid of the smell of the ammonia which is more likely the cause of the sick feeling. Now you will have a darkroom that smells like pickles.
     
  13. Donald Qualls

    Donald Qualls Member

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    Which, if you use traditional acid fixer or acid stop bath, would probably be normal...
     
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  15. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    sorry to hear of your problems sean.
    i'd mop/wipe everything clean many times before you "air it out"
    i am sure airborn chemicals aren't too much fun. if it makes you feel any better i dumped a 16x20 tray filled to the top with dektol on our floor a few years ago. it wasn't a fun site :smile:

    about that cap -
    this was posted last night in another thread. at least this didn't happen ...
    http://www.thewarpzone.net/kiss_woman.asf

    good luck!

    -john
     
  16. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    The good news is your table and floor are now archival.
     
  17. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    I really don't think there's any danger as long as you've cleaned up the spill and left no liquid puddled around anywhere that small children or animals might ingest. Selenium toner, especially when it's diluted, shouldn't be too hazardous. The ammonia odor is not particularly strong compared to the fumes from a bottle of ammonia cleaner that is commonly used in households every day.
     
  18. Ronald Moravec

    Ronald Moravec Member

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    The amonia smell is mearly obnoxious. Selenium is toxic. I hope you wore rubber gloves and the mask was designed to stop whatever form the selenium was in.
     
  19. Tom Duffy

    Tom Duffy Member

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    I wouldn't worry too much. I read a Kodak publication once, which suprised me. It stated that working dilutions of selenium were ok for you fingers, it was dilute enough not to be harmful. I wouldn't go that far, but I'd be far more concerned about pyro or amidol.
     
  20. photomc

    photomc Member

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    Sean, agree with other with the good wishes...but think I would check Kodak site for the MSDS to see what they say about spills and clean up. Think everthing should be fine, but as always, better save than sorry.

    So, can you have one of your great-grandkid's post here to let our great-grandkid's know if the room is still looking as good as it does today?
     
  21. argentic

    argentic Member

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    Hi Sean,

    Don't worry too much about the smell. It's just ammonia. I once breathed in a lot of ammonia some ten years ago at my work. My mucous membranes were inflamed for weeks and I lost my voice completely for a few days. But I'm still alive, and my three daughters came out perfectly :wink:

    About the selenium, better be overcautious. You don't want it to become airborne. So you better clean up once too many. But don't get paranoid either.

    Good luck, and overhere we say: "A donkey never hits a rock twice." :wink:
     
  22. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    Just out of curiosity, doesn't selenium characteristically smell like garlic? I've been on the scene of a few magnesium fires (worked in places where it was machined) and after each fire the garlic smell was unmistakable. We understood it was from the selenium contained in the magnesium alloys.
     
  23. KenM

    KenM Member

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    I would be very cautious with the selenium residue. In solution, KRST is nothing to worry about (don't drink it, of course), but as a powder, it can become airborne. You do not want to inhale this stuff. In it's pure form, selenium powder is extremely toxic, and can cause death. Of course, we're not working with pure selinium, but any amount of toxic material in the lungs is not a good thing.

    Use common sense, and try and clean up any residue without raising any dust. Perhaps damp rags, throw immediately after use into a garbage bag, would be the best thing to clean up the dust. I'll leave it to you to determine how to dispose of the rags.

    Not a fun thing to clean up.
     
  24. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    Since you already cleaned the mess I believe most of the selenium is gone.
    Hopefully the ammonia smell is gone, and any selenoiuum left will be a selenite (I think) so it will hardly get to be airborne. Just make sure you mop/wipe it real well.

    And the water you used to wash the stuff whould be very good for you flowers!!
     
  25. hortense

    hortense Member

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    My understanding is that it is the Se dust that is left when the solution evaporates that is quite toxic if inhaled, ingested or gets into an open cut. However, don't take my word for it. New Zealand must have "Poison Centers"; call one of them.
    In the US: "American Association of Poison Control Centers. If you have a poisoning emergency, call 1-800-222-1222."
    Se is so toxic, if you have ANY concern that the "powder" was inhaled, make a long distant call the the number above. OR, If you wish, I'll call them for you. Please let me know.
     
  26. hortense

    hortense Member

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    Sean New Zealand DOES have a Poison Center. Here it is: NATIONAL POISONS CENTRE
    Dunedin School of Medicine
    PO Box 913
    Dunedin, New Zealand
    Emergency Phone: 0800 POISONS (from NZ only) or 0800 764-766
    Administrative Phone: 64-3-479-7248
    FAX: 64-3-477-0509
    Website: http://www.toxinz.com or
    http://www.otago.ac.nz/prevmed/npc.html