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  1. #11
    Donald Qualls's Avatar
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    Exhausted fixer is a definite no-no for drains -- the dissolved silver is apparently pretty bad for the bacteria that to most of the work in both septic tanks and municipal sewage treatment facilities. However, there are a couple very viable solutions above for precipitating the dissolved silver before disposing of the remaining solution, which is then harmless (and can be used as fertilizer -- for which I wouldn't recommend selenium toner, since selenium can make harmless plants deadly toxic).

    Stop bath is no more harmful than salad dresssing (less so -- the vegetable oil in salad dressing is bad for sewage treatment). Wetting agent is a mild detergent, used in very low concentrations, and as such has far less effect that dish washing soap (either hand wash or machine variety) or laundry detergent.

    For developers, it depends. Sodium sulfite isn't something you want a lot of in surface waterways, and some of the phenols in developers can accumulate in surface waters and such, but conversely, most developing agents oxidize pretty rapidly in the environment into simple organic acids similar to tannin -- of which, in many parts of the North Temperate Zone, oak forests add enough to surface streams to make them look like iced tea, without harming stream-dwelling wildlife.

    One of the developers I use I could literally drink -- coffee, optional vitamin c, and washing soda (the soda wouldn't taste good, but in small quantities isn't significantly harmful). There is no solvent action, and it doesn't worry me a bit to put it down the drain.
    Photography has always fascinated me -- as a child, simply for the magic of capturing an image onto glossy paper with a little box, but as an adult because of the unique juxtaposition of science and art -- the physics of optics, the mechanics of the camera, the chemistry of film and developer, alongside the art in seeing, composing, exposing, processing and printing.

  2. #12
    jp80874's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Calamity Jane
    I live in a rural area and all my darkroom waste goes into the sump which in turn is pumped into the ditch in front of my house. I have been in this location 8 years and can see absolutly no ill effects - the grass by the discharge looks just as healthy as anywhere else.

    Oh, did I mention the three-headed frogs?
    Do you have a well? Have you thought about where its water comes from? Have you looked in the three mirrors over the sink? Does the name Love Canal ring a bell? I understand that several varieties of cancer take a long time to go far enough to be recognizable, but are rather irreversible once they have reached the recognizable stage.

    I am also told that many commercial photo labs will process fixer as a civic duty. That would probably take some phone calls. The local college where I take photo courses encourages students with home darkrooms to bring in the fixer to save the environment.

    John

  3. #13
    Donald Qualls's Avatar
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    I asked one of my local labs (the one that has an actual camera/photo store attached) about taking my used fixer; they said the fellow who is supposed to take *their* used fixer has been unreliable and they can't be sure of getting rid of their own, much less mine (apparently they don't have silver recovery, or misunderstood my question -- I'll try asking again with the silver recovery angle on another visit). Meantime, the half gallon of fixer I finally exhausted a few weeks ago went into a plastic pail (former container for kitty litter, as it happens) with a few balls of steel wool. I should check it; the supernatant is probably ready to pour off as fertilizer, though the collected silver likely isn't enough to bother with, yet.
    Photography has always fascinated me -- as a child, simply for the magic of capturing an image onto glossy paper with a little box, but as an adult because of the unique juxtaposition of science and art -- the physics of optics, the mechanics of the camera, the chemistry of film and developer, alongside the art in seeing, composing, exposing, processing and printing.

  4. #14

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    I would recommend finding a local college or other school that offers photography courses and taking your fixer there. I wouldn't worry about developers or stop baths. They are totally harmless once dilluted, with maybe the exception of pyrogallol. Also, unless you're using Uranium, Selenium, or Mercury toners (and also once selenium is exhausted it is harmless too as the metal is all in the prints that you have toned with it), you'd be fine pouring it down the drain with the proper dilution of water. Unless your drain runs straight into the ocean, there will be no problem treating your run off at a local water refinery. Again, fixer is the only thing that is the problem, and only due to the silver that accumulates in it. I'd recommend taking it out yourself and making some jewelry with it :-)

    Regards.
    ~Karl Borowski

  5. #15
    DimDim's Avatar
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    Not only because it is stimulated by the Belgian authorities:
    I collect ALL my chemicals and bring them to the nearest recycling center once in a while. (It's free)
    I find it astonishing that you just dump all that stuff.
    You wouldn't drink it, would you...

  6. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Quinten
    Whould your exotic fish colection be happy
    swimmers if you throw some fixer in their pond?
    Do fish drink water? Also, is anything twixt my sink drain
    and the municipal sewage plant expected to live?

    The quantity disposed of is where to make the call. Some
    where, years ago, I read a Kodak position statement on fixer
    down the drain. In summation, WE can toss down the sink due
    to the very extreme insolubility of silver sulfide and the always
    present abundant supply of sulfured compounds
    in sewage systems.

    Personally I don't worry about it. I use only unadulterated
    sodium or ammonium thiosulfate at very high dilutions; for the
    A. Thio, 1: 24 for Pan F+ and 1:49 for the RC Gr.2 paper used
    in proofing and experiments. Dan

  7. #17

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    I do not have a car or any easy access to one so I have to bring the chemistry to the waste site by bus...not ideal with a 5 gallon container.

    I wonder if I could leave the lid off outside in the summer and let 90% of the water disappear into the air and bring the "sludge" to the waste site. That would be easier, lighter and better for my back.

    Morten

  8. #18
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    Those of you who put the spent fixer over steel wool: what do you do when the silver sludge is nearing sterling levels? Do you keep a jewelry side business to make money out of it? I've seen a lot of suggestion on using that trick for fixer, but if you throw the silver down the toilet after, isn't it as polluting?

  9. #19
    thedarkroomstudios's Avatar
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    There are a number of purchasers out there who will buy the recovered silver. If you've bought a system, often that company will trade you the used silver bucket for a new one (if it's really laden you may even net enough profit for a cup of coffee too) if you're doing it with a home-made recovery system check the phone book, google or your local jewler for buyers of reclaimed silver.
    Just a start: http://www.ipc.org/3.0_Industry/3.4_EHS/RECYCLE1.htm
    The Darkroom Studios ~ Brad Walker
    27 North Centre Street ~ Merchantville, NJ 08109
    856.488.1546 info@thedarkroomstudios.com
    "Film Ain't Dead Yet!"

  10. #20

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    last time my hauler took my 10-15 gallons of spent fixer, i got a check for 30$.

    talk to your dentist and see what he iis doing with his spent fixer from the x-ray machine. chances are there is a big drum the chemicals are dumped in ( and taken away ) or a trickle-tank. either way is better than dumping down the drain. besides, if you have metal waste pipes they will corrode, in addition to your adding contaminants to the environment.

    good luck!

    -john

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