Most of the mixed photographic solutions are not very dangerous, and neither are most of the unmixed packaged developers and fixers. That doesn't mean you wouldn't get sick from them, but they are not lethal acute poisons. Most manufacturers do an excellent job of telling you about any hazards on the label (at least in the US). The most hazardous are probably the toners, some of which are acutely poisonous. That does not apply to the raw components you might use to mix up your own solutions, however. Here the chemicals are much more concentrated and can be more toxic. Also, the bottles of raw chemicals are not usually marked to indicate poisons. Hydroxides have already been mentioned as nasty. Add glacial acetic acid to that. Developing agents like pyro and PPD are quite toxic and can be absorbed through the skin. Sodium sulfide (the toning agent, not sulfite) is quite toxic. There are a number of other things that show up in an experimenter's darkroom that should not be ingested, but these are the most common.
They have to be able to etch Silver but that's about it. Their fumes are likely much more harmless than those from most developers, and likewise I would expect most developers to be much worse to your eyes, too. To my best knowledge, Ferric EDTA is used orally to treat insufficient Iron intake.
Originally Posted by TheFlyingCamera
AgNo3 is lethal if ingested.
They didn't because they weren't pansies.
Originally Posted by Vaughn
OK, who here won't die???
Originally Posted by Gerald C Koch
Gerald - per Coca Cola. On one flight over to Hawaii we were in one of those three seat rows, and my wife naturally struck up a conversation with the lady
in the adjacent seat, who turned out be be a Coca Cola employee. So my wife asked her is she got all her cola free, but she replied that she wouldn't drink
it because every ingredient they used is classified as DOT hazardous! Of course it takes awhile for a carbonated beverage to rot your teeth out; but the
concentrated carbonic acid they use to begin with would cut a hole right thru you. No difference in a darkroom. I've got glacial acetic acid on hand, sulfuric
acid, potassium permanganate crystals - all kinds of things that would do you in if you took a gulp. The difference between kitchen vinegar used for salad
dressing and straight killer glacial acetic is just a matter of concentration. But in terms of getting in trouble in the long run, esp with alt printers, chromium salts are a serious offender. Probably not too many people work with mercury anymore, but there might be a few. Ordinary methyl alcohol is mighty bad.
Pyro can penetrate skin tissue and is suspected of being the cuprit behind the Parkinson's disease of several famous photographers back when people didn't
wear plastic gloves. I had to fill out some silly paperwork to get uranyl nitrate. Unfortunately, the nickname for it is yellowcake - but it would take a few
shiploads of the stuff to make a dirty bomb. The amount I keep on hand couldn't kill an aphid.
Per Rudeofus - Ciba bleach was con sulfuric. The amateur powder kits were sulfamic. That stuff would ruin your lungs fast, and it is almost
unimaginable that some people used it in opens trays. It will corrode metal drainpipe like crazy. I know a fellow who had to have a lung removed due to Ciba bleach fume scarring. A single serious incident can ruin your lungs for life. Ordinary hardware store muriatic acid is less concentrated hydrochloric, and people add it to swimming pools, yet it has ruined a lot of lungs of the naive, not to mention skin burns. Failing to read the hazard notice, or failing to dilute it way way down has taken people from perfectly healthy to downright lifetime invalid. I worked
with Ciba for years - in a drum processor outdoors! The bleach was easy to neutralize in small drum batches. I also process even RA4 outdoors in analogous fashion, but that's because I'm allergic to it. Even with thing of lower level toxicity, long-term sensitization can be a
distinct threat. Better safe than sorry. Even routine black and white silver printing warrants gloves and decent ventilation.
Yep... we all gotta die. I would just prefer not to die a few decades prematurely gasping for breath or shaking like a leaf, or connected to a dialysis machine, or going blind - like a number of macho artists I know who casually smeared their finger in lead and cadmium pigments, or worked around chromium dust, or applied nitrocellulose lacquers without a fume booth (the lucky ones in the latter instance went quickly, and simply blew up!)
Color Blixes are not very poisonous at all!
Cyanide, Mercury and they Hydroxides are the most lethal with many other surprises. Ancell and Troop (and Me too) rank Pyrogallol and Catchol as some of the most poisonous chemicals along with Selenium.
The book Overexposure is way over the top and just plain WRONG in many cases. For example, it lists EDTA as a poison, but it is used intravenously for heavy metal poisoning. In other words, it is a remedy for Mercury exposure.
BTW, drinking solutions of strong acids or bases will kill you, but it is the most painful and agonizing death imaginable.
I think that it is useful to order the toxicity of your chemistry, but remember that thousands of workers at EK have used these for years, and at worst, I believe there were a few cases of dermatitis. We wore proper protection, and the problems arose when we did not follow the rules.
As an added thought, Coke, Pepsi and other "colas" contain a hefty dose of Phosphoric Acid. That is the baddie in there that can hurt you in high doses. It is dilute in the colas, but remember the old time "Phosphates"? That is what they were. Sugar, Carbonation and Phosphoric Acid with a flavoring.