Respirators for the darkroom

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by Perry Way, Jul 28, 2010.

  1. Perry Way

    Perry Way Member

    Messages:
    825
    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2008
    Location:
    San Luis Obi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've got a nagging tickle in my throat, and a cough lasting about half a week again. I'm suspecting it is chemistry related because the last time I had this I had caught a few small whiffs of selenium or sodium sulfite or bleach a few days earlier. So here I am now rewinding and replaying the last few toning episodes in the darkroom, thinking the cough is related to the chemistry. Let's just assume for the moment that it is related.

    So, my questions pretty much boil down to these three:

    What kind of respirator should I get if my concern over my health means price is not a factor?

    What kind of respirator should I get if I need to buy something I can easily afford?

    Is there a possibility that an adequate respirator could be found for darkroom purposes that is also easily affordable?

    I'd like to hear from experienced people if that's possible!
     
  2. Pauly

    Pauly Member

    Messages:
    5
    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2007
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    You can use a diving helmet like the one they used in 20,000 Leagues under the Sea.
     
  3. andrewkirkby

    andrewkirkby Member

    Messages:
    328
    Joined:
    May 4, 2009
    Location:
    Sydney, Aust
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Use the outside supplied air masks which are used by welders. They are made by 3M
     
  4. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

    Messages:
    6,930
    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2007
    Location:
    Richmond VA.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Just hold your breath for a long time!:D

    Jeff
     
  5. AgX

    AgX Member

    Messages:
    11,925
    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2007
    Location:
    Germany
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Basically you have four options,

    -) a mouth/nose or full-face mask driven with pressurized air (as fire-fighters use them)

    -) a mouth/nose or full-face mask fitted with a filter cartirdge of the dust- or gas-filter type (looks like a gas mask)

    -) a helmet with extensive face-shield under which presurised or just filtered air is blown (as used by some welders)

    -) simple mouth/nose mask of the fleece type (a bit like surgeons wear, but preformed). There are types with high fltration, padding/sealing at the nose and breathing valve to comfort exhailing. There are types even graded for cancerogenic dust. There may be activated carbon inserts too.


    In your case it seems to be an issue of vapour.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 28, 2010
  6. Richard Wasserman

    Richard Wasserman Member

    Messages:
    728
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2004
    Location:
    Wilmette,Ill
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Here you go– http://www.mcmaster.com/#respirators/=85sqn6

    I don't think you need to get too carried away, but it is good to take this issue seriously. One of the more efficient disposable respirators I think are adequate for darkroom use. They are what I use when mixing dry chemicals, some of which are not so good to breathe.
     
  7. Barry S

    Barry S Member

    Messages:
    1,347
    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2007
    Location:
    DC Metro
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I've been using a respirator since I started handling hazardous and toxic materials for wet plate. I have an MSA Comfo II with cartridges that remove particulates and organic vapors--it seems to work well for everything. I use it for weighing out CdBr and KCN. I think the mask plus cartridges cost me about $35 via eBay. Here's a link for the mask, but I'd recommend some better cartridges.
     
  8. AgX

    AgX Member

    Messages:
    11,925
    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2007
    Location:
    Germany
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Another option may be the construction of a suction unit that drags off vapours at the level of processing trays etc.
     
  9. fotch

    fotch Member

    Messages:
    4,824
    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2005
    Location:
    SE WI- USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Maybe you can find a government surplus suit left over from the outer space program? Maybe just consult a kitchen or heating contractor for a good darkroom ventilation set up.
     
  10. cfclark

    cfclark Member

    Messages:
    172
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Location:
    Pasadena, CA
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    That was going to be my suggestion: Anyone think of a fan? :D

    You do want to protect yourself from respiratory damage (temporary though it might be), but too elaborate a respirator is going to reduce your enjoyment of using the darkroom in the first place.
     
  11. domaz

    domaz Member

    Messages:
    560
    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2007
    Location:
    Tacoma, WA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I would make sure you darkroom ventilitation is up to snuff before worrying about a respirator. Do the fan/CFM calculation and properly install an exhaust channel and an inlet channel for the air.
     
  12. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    19,984
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    the ones that look like gas masks are good.
    i have one and got it at home depot 20+ years ago.
     
  13. jp80874

    jp80874 Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,494
    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2004
    Location:
    Bath, OH 442
    Shooter:
    ULarge Format
    Even when there is an exhaust fan one of the most common mistakes is to put it directly over the sink so that the fumes come up from the tray, past your nose and out through the fan.

    I have trouble with ammonia and use a mask from B&H with two charcoal filters. My two exhaust fans intake across the sink about a foot above tray level and go outside. Fresh filtered air is brought in through a fan behind me.

    John Powers
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. lxdude

    lxdude Member

    Messages:
    6,943
    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2009
    Location:
    Redlands, So
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I think a well filtered source blowing from above with a low exit would be ideal. It would remove vapors downward and also keep out dust, especially if it gives a bit of positive pressurization.
     
  16. MikeSeb

    MikeSeb Member

    Messages:
    1,062
    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2005
    Location:
    Prospect (Lo
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    It would have to be the darkroom, or photographic chemicals, because upper-respiratory illness is so uncommon in adults, what else could it be?

    Get my point?

    Ventilate your darkroom properly, and you won't need a respirator/hood/space suit. There just isn't that much in the darkroom that's toxic.
     
  17. lxdude

    lxdude Member

    Messages:
    6,943
    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2009
    Location:
    Redlands, So
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    True, but individual people are often sensitive to things most aren't. It doesn't have to be normally regarded as toxic.
    Some people can't be around latex paint until it's completely cured, for example.
    I worked for a very short time in my machinist career doing EDM (electro-discharge machining). The parts are submerged in a dielectric liquid, usually kerosene. The kerosene vapors irritated my lungs so badly I had a constant cough. That was the end of my career in that particular discipline.

    As you say, proper ventilation is essential.
     
  18. wclark5179

    wclark5179 Member

    Messages:
    503
    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2002
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    I use a bathroom as my darkroom. What I do is work a limited time and take a break. For contact printing I will do three or four rolls (three or four 8by10's) and then take a little time off while the prints are washing, then dry. I wash and dry the prints in the kitchen. I leave the door open to the darkroom whilst I'm taking time off. For making enlargements I usually will only do one, at most two, before taking time off. I don't run the bathroom exhaust fan when in the darkroom.

    A filter mask or respirator wouldn't be my cup of tea. Too confining.

    Works for me.
     
  19. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,411
    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2005
    Location:
    NE U.S.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The surgical style masks are good for particles, but not vapors. For that you need one of the cartidge types shown on the McMaster-Carr link with the appropriate cartidges on it.
    But, as several folks have said, ventilation is the best first step. If you can't get adequate ventilation in your darkroom, move those processes where it's a problem to some other space you can ventilate.
     
  20. alexmacphee

    alexmacphee Member

    Messages:
    310
    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2009
    Location:
    Surrey, UK
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I use my mother-in-law for these jobs.
     
  21. neelin

    neelin Member

    Messages:
    91
    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2007
    Location:
    winnipeg, ca
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    I don't have photography specific experience, but in construction I used to refer to 3M's Respirator Selection Guide to select the appropriate cartridges for the chemistry might to be exposed to.

    http://solutions.3m.com/wps/portal/3M/en_US/Health/Safety/Resources/Four/

    (choose electronic/printed for a PDF as the on-line selector appears to be off-line)

    Looks like a N95 cartridge for Se and SA (supplied air) for CN.
    Kind of points to extraction via rigged up fume hood to get away from a supplied air type respirator.

    If I could only dream of allergy to sodium sulfite :wink: Isn't that the main filler in laundry detergent to bulk up the volume? But dear...I can't do the laundry, I'm allergic to laundry powder.

    Robert
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 28, 2010
  22. randyB

    randyB Member

    Messages:
    368
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2005
    Location:
    SE Mid-TN
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I do my toning outside. Since my darkroom is hooked to the central air system anytime I sepia tone prints the smell goes through out the house which makes the wife very unhappy. I bleach the prints in the darkroom but then take them outside for the toning part. A quick rinse with the garden hose and all is well. RandyB
     
  23. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

    Messages:
    4,252
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2009
    Location:
    Central Flor
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    As far as I know, you can develop sensitivity to a certain chemical (component) at any age, and in some cases, you could have a very acute and severe reaction. At minimum, I'd look seriously into having proper ventilation in the area, and try to identify what exactly you are reacting to.... before going the respirator route.
     
  24. Perry Way

    Perry Way Member

    Messages:
    825
    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2008
    Location:
    San Luis Obi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Thanks to everyone who contributed. even the jokesters. :smile:

    I think this is a many facet thing, and I've got some good ideas to start with. I think what got me off on the wrong foot was an initial lead for a respirator system costing $1500. And that's where I had such a knee jerk I had to stop and post this query and get some feedback first. But there's a lot of differences in the filtration devices and many of them looking alike each other so maybe the folks stressing ventilation as the key is really the key.

    What I didn't mention on the outset is I only caught a small whiff of the selenium last time. As I mixed the chemicals only. I used my Jobo to tone with, and the chems were in a graduated beaker. They weren't gassing crazy into the bathroom and I had the windows open at the time. But maybe I didn't hurt my upper respiratory system this time and maybe I'm just a little run down from an upside down weekend and being dehydrated. I know I hurt my upper respiratory system before (or pretty sure of that) and pretty sure I had two weeks of bronchitis as a result. Maybe its the memory that got triggered recently when I caught a whiff. I don't know.. I think I'm maybe hyper aware of things the second or subsequent times (but first time around maybe thinking I am invincible and nothing can harm me?).
     
  25. Kirk Keyes

    Kirk Keyes Member

    Messages:
    3,268
    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2004
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    You really should be watching your prints as you selenium tone. And you can do that with a simple tray. A Jobo is overkill for this, and it doesn't allow you to control the color/tone of your prints.

    Selenium has a slight ammonia smell, and if you want a vapour mask for that, get one that is for ammonia/basic gases. On for particulate will not help. Also, you really need to be properly fitted and trained how to use these masks. And you need to be clean shaven for it (moustache is OK, but no beard for it).

    I think proper ventilation is the place to start first. Also, don't worry about getting a whiff of these things, and that's not generally enought to have any effect.

    There's a fine line between hyper aware and hypochondriac...
     
  26. fschifano

    fschifano Member

    Messages:
    3,216
    Joined:
    May 12, 2003
    Location:
    Valley Strea
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Since you've described your problem that you've associated with toning procedures, the fix is easy. Toning doesn't need to be done in the dark. It can be done under subdued lighting conditions, so find a place that's open to the air and carry out the procedure there. If the problem goes away, you've pretty much got your answer. You won't need the blasted respirator. Your darkroom needs better ventilation. Believe it, you won't like wearing a gas mask.