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Thread: Pyro toxicity?

  1. #11
    Aggie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rusty71
    Actually, if my parents had shown me how to dissolve bologna in acid, I would've though "Cool! I'm gonna pick that lock!"
    Probably follwing normal safety procedures with Pyro will be adequate. There is a detailed article here: http://unblinkingeye.com/Articles/PCat/pcat.html

    Below is a quote from the article which bears on the original question:
    "Both Pyrogallol and Pyrocatechin are very toxic chemicals. However, the primary danger to photographers is dermal absorption and breathing the dry powder, both of which are easily avoided. Always use rubber gloves when processing sheet film in trays, and either go outdoors or use a vent hood to mix Pyrogallol or Pyrocatechin into solution. By following these simple procedures, and exercising common sense, the potential health risks associated with using these chemicals for developing film are virtually eliminated."

    I still like Rodinal though....
    LIke I said in the link that Morten provided to another thread, Pyrogallic acid is an ingredient used in medical topical ointments. To my knowledge they are still absorbed through the skin. You can do a google search and find this tidbit out for yourself. The only thing that you need to be careful of out of the ordinary precautions you take with any chemical is to be aware of the dry powdered form. It is harmful if inhaled in the dry state, for it goes directly from the lungs into the blood stream and thus crosses the blood brain barrier. I know no one here wants me to break that down further. Use common sense. You lock the cleansers and other household cleaners away from children, you do the same with ALL of you photography chemicals. Use gloves if you are paranoid. It also helps when you wear gloves to keep your fingernails from turning brown. If it spills in the powdered form, just be careful and try not to raise dust while you clean it up. You can spray it with a little water before you do the clean up that gets rid of the dust, and the problem of breathing it
    no more harmful in that state than the chlorine in cleansers. Relax and enjoy.
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  2. #12

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    Old photographers

    Pyro used to be a mainstay of developers and I have read that Edward Weston had blackened fingers from from tray developing sheet film in pyro with bare hands. I have also read conjectures that his Parkinson's disease may have been a result of regular and prolonged pryo contact.

    I can say unequivically that if you get a pyro based developer on your hands they will get blackened immediately especially with pyro in a viscous substance such as TEA.

    For myself, my opinion is to do your utmost to handle the chemicals with REASONABLE care and to KEEP THEM AWAY FROM CHILDREN AND LABEL THE CONTENTS OF YOUE BOTTLES SO THAT IF SOMEONE IS INJURED YOU OR ANYONE ELSE CALL TELL THE DOCTOR OR PARAMEDICS WHAT THEY WERE EXPOSED TO.

    I remember back in the 70's I was using a bleach component from C41 that came in GLASS bottles that had an extremely irritating smell with a horrible, caustic ,choking odor.

    I thought to myself that If I ever wanted to clear a room that breaking that bottle would be much more effective than tear gas.

    So, while I do not subscribe to the idea of chemicals being a terrible thing, I also believe that the current awareness has done some good.

  3. #13
    Canuck's Avatar
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    From my perspective, using the liquid mix I have no problems with (normal care) but mixing it up from powder is not a good idea without a good fume hood of a chemistry lab.

  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Claire Senft
    Pyro used to be a mainstay of developers and I have read that Edward Weston had blackened fingers from from tray developing sheet film in pyro with bare hands. I have also read conjectures that his Parkinson's disease may have been a result of regular and prolonged pryo contact.
    I thought the black fingernails came from Amidol and not the pyro and you are right about the Parkinson's--they are conjectures which have never had any sustained scientific research that I know of from all of my reading.

    Nevertheless, one should ALWAYS be careful with chemicals.
    Let's see what I've got in the magic trash can for Mateo!

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  5. #15

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    I use three developers, Rodinal, W2D2+, and Homebrew Panthermic 777. Any of them you want your kids swilling? Any of them you want repeated contact with your hands?

    Simple precautions, keeping them out of the way of my daughters, specific instructions to leave Daddy's stuff alone, and use of gloves if there is the chance of skin contact with the developers. Since most of my work is done in closed tanks, it isn't an issue.

    As far as dry chemicals, only the Panthermic 777 is a powder (well, a bunch of powders) and I have only had to make that up once so far. An hour in latex or nitril gloves once every 6 months isn't too bad an imposition for the look I like to get with that developer.

    Be careful, the rest will fall into place.


    tim in san jose
    Where ever you are, there you be.

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by SchwinnParamount
    The cabinet is actually quite a ways out of their reach. It is 5 feet above the floor and there are obstacles in front of it ( such as a locked darkroom door... most of the time) plus the kids know to stay away from the stuff. I was more concerned about an accidental spill or powder in the air that poisons the environment of my house.
    The powder in the air is a problem. Always use a respirator when you mix pyrogallol, and I would always do it outside whenever I could. You really don't want to breathe pyrogallol.

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by k_jupiter
    As far as dry chemicals, only the Panthermic 777 is a powder (well, a bunch of powders) and I have only had to make that up once so far.
    Be careful with that paraphenylene diamine. It's just as bad as pyro, if not worse.

  8. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by c6h6o3
    Be careful with that paraphenylene diamine. It's just as bad as pyro, if not worse.
    Ahyup. I wore a dusk mask when I made that stuff up as well as latex gloves. Interesting enough paraphenylene diamine is an ingredient in many hair dyes. IF you spill a little 777 on your hands, you see why.

    tim in san jose
    Where ever you are, there you be.

  9. #19

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    And how do we know Weston's Parkinson's was not from the Amidol? (Just trying to start an new, unsubstantiated rumour.)

  10. #20

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    You may be right.

    It might have been the amidol that blackened his fingers. However, I know from personal experience that the pyros will stain fingers as well as gelatin.

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