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  1. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ektagraphic View Post
    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...
    Quote Originally Posted by nworth View Post
    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...just toss the chemicals...
    A classic example of the chaos that results when people post without reading previous posts in a thread.

  2. #22
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    One source that can be of assistance, is the MSDS for the product. Some have useful disposal instructions. (eg How to make their product safe for routine disposal.). Others unfortunately, only give you, "dispose of properly in accordance with state and local regulations.".

  3. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sal Santamaura View Post
    A classic example of the chaos that results when people post without reading previous posts in a thread.
    hey sal

    i think the second poster did read what patrick said
    and like so many people here and elsewhere chemical disposal
    just doesn't factor into their photography.
    a lot of people suggest that household chemicals ( bleach, laundry detergents, &c )
    and hair care products are more hazardous then anything a photographer would use
    and because a hobbyist is a small quantity generator it is OK to dump stuff down the drain,
    even on a septic system. they post kodak data sheets from the 90s or 70s or whatever
    to support their claims that it is just kooks and tree huggers that believe or suggest one should do differently
    ( and it is their right do just dump whatever they have down the drain. )

    i always suggest calling local authorities because some places are more lenient than others.

    YMMV

  4. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by jnanian View Post
    ...i think the second poster did read what patrick said...
    You're a more generous person than I am John, giving the benefit of the doubt that way. However, if read, it was ignored.

    Patrick wrote:

    Quote Originally Posted by Ektagraphic View Post
    ...The trouble is, I am on a septic system...
    and the response was:

    Quote Originally Posted by nworth View Post
    ...You can check what the local limits are by contacting your local sewer service...
    Bold italics added by me.

  5. #25
    Ektagraphic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by newcan1 View Post

    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 approach seems interesting....
    Helping to save analog photography one exposure at a time

  6. #26

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    You may all find this EPA link to be of interest:

    http://www.epa.gov/osw/inforesources...s/photofin.pdf

    You may begin to realize why jobs have moved to China, and why the US environmental laws are damaging the global environment by shifting economic activity to countries that do not have even half the standards we would have if we were sensible.

    I spent over a month with an environmental advisor trying to figure how to comply with the rules in my printing business. Georgia EPD (who enforces the EPA rules) had never heard of the Chemgon product to which I referred earlier in this thread. They finally unofficially indicated I could use them. My building is not on a sewer (my business is very small), and I do not put photo chemicals down the sink. However, an interesting question arises whether I could even rinse out a beaker that has been emptied. I swear that once you try to follow the rules faithfully, you realize that it is near on impossible. If you are a non-commercial hobbyist you may just decide to assume that your chemistry falls within exemptions for "household waste" (it's up to you to read the rules and decide). I find it interesting that EPA exemptions for household waste even exist -- it suggests to me that the rules are more about money, stealing, and practical politics than they are about the environment, because many household products are more poisonous than things that are used by businesses that are regulated.

    Sorry for the rant. The linked brochure is quite informative.

  7. #27
    Athiril's Avatar
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    If you combine an cellulose acetate filter with dumped wash water and chems on one side, and some water + a lot of salt (bag of cooking salt etc, cheap as) on the other side, you should be able to draw the moisture out through forward osmosis, at which point, that second part, can be the source tank in a solar still for collecting clean water to re-use, or just left to evaporate off.

    You could also add solar heat pipes into the saline solution to speed it up.

  8. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by jnanian View Post
    a lot of people suggest that household chemicals ( bleach, laundry detergents, &c ) and hair care products are more hazardous then anything a photographer would use and because a hobbyist is a small quantity generator it is OK to dump stuff down the drain, even on a septic system. they post kodak data sheets from the 90s or 70s or whatever to support their claims that it is just kooks and tree huggers that believe or suggest one should do differently
    ( and it is their right do just dump whatever they have down the drain. )
    i always suggest calling local authorities because some places are more lenient than others.
    YMMV
    jnanian,

    First, sorry if you don't like the 1999 date of the Kodak publication. I would love to have an updated version as well, but there just isn't one. The point I would like to make in this regard is that the black-and-white processing chemicals we tend to use have not changed appreciably since the Jurassic... uh... 1999, and that the publication still has validity. True, regulations regarding the disposal of chemicals do change, but the science behind remains basically the same.

    Here is a quote from a later Kodak publication (A-3 on processing black-and-white film):

    "Safe Disposal of Used Chemicals.
    Be sure to dispose of chemicals properly. To a large extent, exactly how you do that will depend on what the chemicals are, the volume of the solutions you discard, and whether you are discharging them into a sewer or into a septic system. Generally, you can pour small amounts of used photographic solutions down the drain without ill effect. Discard the solutions one at a time (to avoid unwanted chemical reactions). Rinse the sink thoroughly and flush the drain with plenty of clean water after dumping each solution. Because the discharge or disposal of spent photographic solutions may be subject to
    local, state, or federal laws, contact the appropriate authorities to determine the requirements that apply to your area."

    I'd also like to point out, that I am a devoted "tree-hugger" and believe in responsible disposal of photochemicals. I may be a "kook" as well, but not in an environmental sense... Do check out my earlier posts on chemical disposal, replenishing and reuse of selenium toner, etc.

    My posting of the Kodak link was to try to get this discussion out of the realm of hearsay and into the context of documentation/regulation/research.

    newcam's posting of the brochure link was interesting in this regard as well. If you take the time to read it critically, you will see that it applies to commercial/industrial photofinishers. You will also note that small waste-volume generators (less than 100kg/month of solid waste) are, in essence, exempt from the responsibilities and regulations. I don't think that anyone seriously believes that the EPA will come down hard on home processors. If you have a business, that's another matter.

    Now, on to some specifics for the OP:

    First, the most pressing issue: black-and-white processing chemicals and septic systems. Unfortunately, as in the Kodak quote above, photochemicals often just get lumped together. Separating them and discussing them individually is enlightening. Most developers, including pyro developers, break down readily to harmless compounds in a septic system, and do not compromise functionality as long as the volumes are not large. Note that Kodak, in their typically careful and veiled way, says essentially the same thing. Stop baths in working dilution (and especially when exhausted) are much less acid than household vinegar, contain the same ingredient (acetic acid for most) or a more benign citric acid. With proper dilution before discarding the pH of a stop bath is really close to neutral and poses no risk to a septic system in reasonable quantities.

    The real problem for septic systems is silver-rich used fixer. The silver is a bactericide, and will adversely affect the activity of the septic system if the volumes of silver are such that the bacteria cannot recover from the load. Toners containing heavy metals, notably selenium toners are not immediately detrimental to the functioning of a septic system, but with repeated discarding of larger quantities, heavy metals can build up in the system and pollute ground water. These two areas are where one should concentrate their concerns about photochemicals and septic systems.

    FWIW, I do most of my printing in a darkroom connected to a septic system. My methods of disposing of my chemistry is as follows:
    Developer and stop are diluted and flushed into the septic system one-at-a-time (developer first). When printing heavily, that might be 2 liters of working solution and stop every other day. This often goes on for a couple of months at a time. Never a problem with the septic system. The miniscule amounts of potassium ferricyanide bleach I use go down the drain as well. From what I have read, this presents no concern about contamination of ground water or septic system performance.

    Fixer is collected in 5-gallon jugs (normally, I might dispose of 5-10 gallons of fixer a year.) These now present a bit of a problem for me. In the past, I simply took them to a local photofinisher who gladly took them for silver recovery. Now there are no longer photolabs in my area. I have taken the fixer to the local hazmat collection station a couple of times now. My issue with this is that I do not believe that my used fixer gets designated for silver recovery. No matter how carefully I try to explain to the collectors that I am discarding used photo fixer that should go to silver recovery, they just pour it in a couple of 5-gallon containers and scribble "photo chemicals" on the lid. I'm rather sure it never gets to a silver-recovery unit. So much for the "experts" at the hazmat facility in my area. Once or twice, since it is allowable in my area to dispose of small amounts of used fixer into the municipal sewer system, I have simply dumped my spent fixer down a public toilet connected to the sewer. I'd much rather get it to silver recovery. I'm thinking of installing a silver-recovery system myself now.

    For selenium toner, I filter, replenish and reuse. I never discard any selenium toner anywhere. I have batches of toner that have been going for well over five years. I've written about this here enough that I'm not going to go into my tirade about discarding heavy metals into the environment again except to say, just don't do it.

    To summarize, you can safely dispose of reasonable quantities of developer, stop and tiny amounts of peripheral chemicals in a septic system.

    Next point. It is bewildering for someone trying to be responsible, and especially for someone just starting out, to find concrete guidelines for disposing of black-and-white photochemicals. The literature is obtuse and, all too often, local authorities are simply no help/have no idea/overreact out of ignorance, etc. That's one of the reasons this topic comes up from time-to-time here. That doesn't mean you should not contact local authorities to find what the regulations are, but be prepared for an uninformed response. Most regulators deal with businesses, industry and really much more dangerous and toxic things than black-and-white photo processing in the home. If you're lucky, you'll get someone who knows what they are talking about and get an authoritative answer.

    However, sifting through the obfuscations and careful, litigation-paranoid wording from manufacturers and the bureaucratese of the regulatory agencies, one comes to realize that low volume home darkroom black-and-white chemicals, either for hobbies or for low-volume fine-art photographers, are generally exempt from regulation. They can be discarded into local municipal sewers without worry.

    That said, I would advocate for taking used fixer to a silver-recovery facility when possible, or installing your own silver-recovery system, since, like selenium, silver does not get removed at the water-treatment plant and collects in the sludge. The amount that comes from local non-industrial photofinishing is likely miniscule, but nevertheless, if one wishes to be responsible, there is often something that can be done.

    All for now, I hope this helps the OP realize that there is a way to deal with his problem without having a guilty conscience.

    Best,

    Doremus

    www.DoremusScudder.com
    Last edited by Doremus Scudder; 06-17-2012 at 05:20 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  9. #29

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    hi doremus

    thanks for your post, and sorry if it seemed like i was calling YOU
    someone who calls people kooky environmentalist treehugger type, i was referring
    to a group that often posts in environmental-threads here ( and elsewhere ) who,
    as i said, call the whole, shouldn't-dump-your-spent fixer-thing BS.
    ...

    over the years there have always been people who expressed just that ..
    people who care about safe disposal of spent fixer and other photochemicals
    are just plain nutz. they say just dump it down the drain, shampoo is more harmful &c.

    a few years ago i started a poll and asked people what they do with their spent fixer,
    and 70% said just that, the dump it, and do it without a second thought.
    you, know ... it IS a vast conspiracy ....

    there used to be someone here on apug
    who claimed that because selenium is found in multi vitamins that selenium toner
    is not harmful but harmless. supposedly she had a chemistry background too ...
    while she failed to understand the difference between large concentrations and trace amounts.
    she did say she invented an automobile engine that ran off of flatulence

    just to reiterate what YOU already said http://www.kodak.com/ek/US/en/Global...m_Disposal.htm

    john
    Last edited by jnanian; 06-17-2012 at 11:32 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  10. #30
    Ektagraphic's Avatar
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    Thank you to all for all of the great responses so far. So much to read over again, and again and think over.
    Helping to save analog photography one exposure at a time

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