I don't know what legal rules apply to non-business use of chemicals, but I am somewhat familiar with the rules that apply to businesses, as I have a film processor in my printing business. The EPA rules regarding silver content are very stringent, and a basic silver recovery unit will not remove enough silver to render the fixer non-hazardous. I use "Chemgon" units that are basically 5 gallon jugs that contain enough sodium polyacrylate (I think that's it) to solidify the fixer and bind the silver to the polymer. They only work where the chemical inserted is neutral pH -- so you can mix spent developer and fixer together, but as the developer may not be designated hazardous, it may be more economical to neutralize the fixer with sodium carbonate. Make sure the pH ends up neutral. After months, I finally convinced the EPD in Georgia that Chemgon units were OK to use to dispose of fixer in the regular trash (as long as the trash is going to an EPA approved disposal facility).
Developer may not be hazardous, especially if it does not contain silver. But in my printing business, I do use the Chemgons. For my photo hobby, I may take a different approach.
Evaporation is no longer permitted under EPA rules for conditionally exempt small quantity generators of waste -- any treatment system must be a "closed" system.
The bottom line is that for small businesses, full compliance with the rules is near to impossible, very expensive, and explains why many jobs that deal with the physical world are now in China. And why we are likely all criminals until proven innocent.
By the way - I wonder if hobbyists desiring to be "green" might acquire smaller quantities of sodium or potassium polyacrylate and use it to solidify fixer in old milk jugs. It's not terribly expensive. The Chemgon units can be thrown in the trash, and one would think that a smaller scale system using the same solidifying agent might be so disposed of also.
This a possible smart solution if you don't want to put the chem-waste down the drain. If you are hooked to a city sewer it is likely better you let the city deal with the waste. The only thing they are concerned with is silver. If you aren't putting out commercial levels of waste the city will never be concerned about you - you just don't output enough. This they determine by your water bill.
If you are on a septic - I would consider not dumping photo-chem continually down the drain. If you have the space and plenty of sun you can build a solar evaporator. It might be years before you have haul away the waste.
In Europe, they are not allowed to dump photo chem at all - any kind. Many labs over there have big electric evaporators. They are rare in the states but some companies have them. We have one. I have not used it in years - Ill sell it to you if you don't care much about your electric bill..
Originally Posted by Ektagraphic
that publication is from 1999,
and i think ( i couldn't find it )
someone here posted one a few months ago that is "current"
and kodak said "don't put anything down the drain"
just find out what is allowed where you live, tell them you are not a commercial enterprise
but a high school student and a hobbyist &c
good luck cutting through all the chafe
silver magnets, trickle tanks sold
artwork often times sold for charity
PM me for details
But what do I do with the waste from the evaporator?
Originally Posted by dr5chrome
Helping to save analog photography one exposure at a time
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Thanks for all of the replies! The trouble is, I am on a septic system, so right down the drain (which I know is fine in the city with sewer) is not safe here. Where I live, no one seems to have advice as to what to do besides paying to have it hauled away.
Helping to save analog photography one exposure at a time
Mixing chemicals to 'inactivate' isn't wise... all the pollutants are still in them especially the silver... and mixing say, ferricyanide bleach with acid fixer has the potential to evolve cyanide gas or traditional sepia toner can release hydrogen sulfide which is also toxic... Selenium toner could evolve hydrogen selenide, which is as toxic or more so than hydrogen sulfide.
So watch it before mixing chemicals that really shouldn't be mixed!
Why do you even bother. The chemicals you dispose of from a home darkroom are well within the acceptable limits for disposal down the drain for anywhere I have heard of. You can check what the local limits are by contacting your local sewer service. Municipalities do worry about disposals from high-volume commercial labs, but not home darkrooms. Those labs are usually able to pre-treat their waste so that it becomes innocuous. A silver magnet may make sense from an economic standpoint if you do a fair volume of printing, but otherwise just toss the chemicals. Working solutions going down the drain are far less hazardous than concentrated, dry remains, unidentified, in some landfill.
A mentioned here before, ferricyanide mixed with fixer is unlikely to release significant amounts on hydrogen cyanide. Even if it did, it would only be a hazard to people in the immediate vicinity at the time of release. Cyanide is quickly inactivated in the environment (that's why it's a lousy war gas). Hydrogen sulfide from mixing acid and sodium sulfide and hydrogen selenide are somewhat greater problems, but small quantities of them are also quickly inactivated in the environment. The very small quantities of silver discharged from a home darkroom are not considered to be a pollutant. They are usually quickly converted to inert forms, and silver isn't that dangerous anyway. Environmental chemistry is quite complicated, and most things are not dangerous pollutants unless they are released above a certain concentration.
Originally Posted by jm94
having a siilar problem, i decided on john's silver magnet!