Unhealthy Reaction to Darkoom Chemicals???

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Leon, Sep 13, 2004.

  1. Leon

    Leon Member

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    I think I may have developed a reaction to the chemicals i'm using in the darkroom.

    I have been using Neutol WA, and TF-4 and then another similar ammonia smelling alkalii fix (plain water stop). Over the past two weeks, I have an increasingly sore throat and what feels like tonsilitis ... lumpy, painful & swollen inside. My darkroom is quite small and I havent yet got round to installing an extractor fan (it is planned but I have to wait for the new windows to be fitted which will have a hole cut into them for this).

    My fiancee thinks I'm being my normal hypochondriacal-self and puts it down to a cold developing, but i am not convinced.

    Until now, I hadnt done any darkroom work since two years ago, and that one was a bit bigger and had no ventilation, but i did notice a similar effect albeit much milder and I wasn't using the ammonia smelly fixers then (but was using neutol).

    My questions are:-
    1) has anyone else heard of or experienced similar reactions to darkroom chemical fumes. If so, could it be something in the Neutol ...?
    2) would a heavy duty respirator be of any use before I get the extractor fitted?

    these are quite "big" questions, I know, but if anyone has had similar experiences, please let me know - I am panicking that I am going to have to stop using my newly built darkroom and that could only have one eventuallity - bow down before the inkjet god - not something I really want to consider!

    TIA
     
  2. Deniz

    Deniz Member

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    my darkroom is quite small and no ventilation either. I haven't noticed any physical problems yet even though i have my fingers in rodinal and ilford rapid fix.. but i did notice that the smell changes my mood alot.. I do notice some mild depression after developing film..

    hey you never know, it may just be because of the horrible pictures i take.. :smile:

    cheers
     
  3. Fintan

    Fintan Member

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  4. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    I suffer an allergic reaction to chemical, Metol being the main culprit, and for that reason have to do all my developing - both film and paper - in drums to minimise exposure. I doubt that a respirator will help unless it's the forced air type that paint sprayers use. In your case it seems probable that adequate ventilation will effect a cure. The inkjet route is the one I'm trying to back out of, so don't go there!
     
  5. Leon

    Leon Member

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    I've been there Dave ... and I feel the same!
     
  6. rogueish

    rogueish Member

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    A properly fitted resperator with correct filters should eliminate any chemical vapours. when the resp is not in use, remove the filters and store them in a seperate sealed bag. This is very important! Storing the filters with the mask (over time) will contaminate the mask with what ever you are filtering out. If you can still smell the chems, you have {a} the wrong filter or {b} old used up filters and should be changed. You shouldn't require a forced air resp. If your spraying the prints with the dev and fix, well yes then you will. If your just doing the tray style, it would be overkill (and pricey).
    I STRONGLY recommend you get your ventilation system up and running. Chemicals have a nasty smell as well as not good you.
    Cease all darkroom activity for a few days and see if the symptomes go away.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 13, 2004
  7. skahde

    skahde Member

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    Metol is certainly under suspect here. OTOH as early as 1939 Agfa wrote in their lab-manual ("Das gro├če Agfa Laborhandbuch") that dermatitis caused by Metol was due to a byproduct of the process. That process had been changed around that time and they claimed that recent (in 1939) Agfa-Metol should be completely safe.
    As all Agfa processes had been disclosed in 1945 there is no reason besides economics why a supplier should not apply the improved, "clean" process. Maybe we are following old but outdated knowledge (metol = dermatitis) here or there is still a smaller effect that wasn't known and the problem in fact was reduced but not eliminated.

    Stefan
     
  8. Leon

    Leon Member

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    but I'm not having skin rashes or irritation, I've got a swollen and sore throat presumably form breathing fumes. Could the Metol still do this? I never have problems with skin contact although I do avoid it as much as possible.
     
  9. mark

    mark Member

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    just a little silly suggestion

    go to the doctor. I wouldn't go to a doctro to get advice on developing times or film choice. I also would not go to a bunch of photographers for medical advice.
     
  10. rogueish

    rogueish Member

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    HEY!
    I resemble that remark!
    :wink:
    A good suggestion that I figured was too obvious...

    Actually my dentist has given me advice on photography
     
  11. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    It maybe anything that smells.
    Use LPD (No metol) as developer, try using citric acid for stop bath and
    hypo-only fixer and see if there is any difference.

    As someone elese said one of those ionic air purifiers may help

    Are you allergic to something else?
    Has Clarytin any effect on your sore throat?
     
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  12. Leon

    Leon Member

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    almost too silly to mention :wink:

    I have been - he told me not to worry about it.

    If you read my original post you'll see there was a distinct lack of request for tips on how to treat my sore thoat ... I was asking if anyone else had had a similar reaction to either of the chemical formulae I am using - and if so, what they did to get around the problem. I guess i didnt think it that odd to ask a group of people who use these substances daily what their experiences of this was ....?

    Anyway - thanks for the helpfull advice.
     
  13. sparx

    sparx Member

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    Are you sure you haven't got a cold or something. I have been carrying a sore throat and chesty cough for nearly 2 weeks now. It is apparently doing the rounds at the moment.
     
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  15. Leon

    Leon Member

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    I'll let you know how it turns out.
     
  16. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    Arew you using acetic stop-bath? Have you tried citric acid instead?

    Have you tried taking a clarytin or similar pill?

    are you allergic to soemthing else?

    Is you darkroom clean? no mildew?

    I edited my previous post, but maybe one of those ionic air-cleaner can help you
     
  17. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Metol allergies usually cause rashes and itching, from my haz waste days I know ammonia causes irritation of the mucous membranes (your throat has them). I am willing to bet your problem is lack of ventilation. Ammonia gases can accumulate and cause this reaction. I have had it, just not in the DR. Until you get your ventilation, I would suggest you cover your fixer tray, this should take care of it.
     
  18. Leon

    Leon Member

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    great - thanks Jorge and everyone else.
     
  19. bmac

    bmac Member

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    I've had similar issues when using Edwal Ultra Black. I switched to Neutol WA an the symptoms went away... go figure
     
  20. BWGirl

    BWGirl Member

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    Hey Leon....

    First, if you go to ink jet & digi*** I will renounce you as my idol! haha :D

    Now...is there any place you can get an MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) on the chemicals you are using. They usually have all the side effects and special handling info for the chemicals. If there is even an outside chance that you are having a reaction to these chemicals it will be in the MSDS.
    Ammonia is a seriously nasty chemical! It likes to eat away those cute little hairs in your nose that help to filter out the bad icky stuff in the air. So, if you are in a room without ventilation, with our friend Mr. Ammonia...this is like a really not-so-good-thing!
    There you have it...advice from Dr. BWGirl! haha (Hey! The cows listen! :wink: )
    Jeanette
     
  21. juan

    juan Subscriber

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    I'm allergic to a long list of things and 10-years ago spent a lot of time with doctors. I learned a lot - mostly that you are going to be the best judge of what you may have a problem with.

    Doctors can do skin and blood tests to check for allergies to natural stuff - weeds, tree pollen, grass, dust, etc. They don't have tests for what they distinguish as chemical sensitivities. I'm very sensitive to something in perfumes. The only thing the doctors could tell me to do was to determine through trial and error what chemicals I was sensitive to, and to avoid them.

    I did undergo allergy shots for the things I was allergic to - weeds, pollen, etc. After my allergies were reduced, I found my chemical sensitivities reduced, too. My body was healthier, and thus not so sensitive to chemicals.

    If you think the darkroom chemicals are to blame, use good laboratory practices. The suggestions for ventilation and filters are good, but you should avoid touching the chemicals, too. If the problem continues, begin eliminating chemicals one by one to see what is causing a reaction. There have been good suggestions here - I'd start with the fixer and stop bath. Then I'd try eliminating metol and continue testing from there.

    If you are chemical sensitive, you have a long journey, but through hard work, you can get better. When I began, I was so sensitive to perfume, I could not walk down the laundry detergent aisle at the supermarket to purchase the unscented detergent. I had to find a clerk to get it for me. Yesterday, I walked down the detergent aisle with impunity as I purchased a box of Arm and Hammer Washing Soda - sodium carbonate for my Pyrocat HD. Ha.
    juan
     
  22. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    If it is allergic you would also wheeze as your throat constricted. You would feel it down into your lungs. Try Claratin D and see if that clears things up. It is over the counter here. Another thing to try is Benedryl which is the first thing they would give you for a allergic reaction that is mild. A severe reaction and you would have trouble breathing in minutes. Do your eyes water? Do you also experience headache along with it?
     
  23. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    Was it any good? If so please pass on a contact number - I need new teeth as well as glasses. :sad:
     
  24. Leon

    Leon Member

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    I spent this evening in the darkroom. I used Ilford Hypam instead of my TF-4 type fix and wore a gas and organic vapour respirator and I had the most productive and successful printing session yet. I suspect the prpblem is an irritation due to the ammonia smell like Jorge said. I do remember getting quite bad sore throats when I used to tone in KRST now i think of it, so it is probably the same effect.

    Now - how do i get rid of this red circle around my face where the mask was too tight??? :wink:
     
  25. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    LOL...if you got a clown face you are using it too tight. Here is a little test to see if you have formed a seal. after you put it on, tighten the straps lightly just so the mask does not fall off. Place your hands on the filters and inhale. If you dont feel any air going through the sides of the mask, then it is tight enough. If you keep using it for long this tight, you will develop headaches.
     
  26. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

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    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 13, 2004