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  1. #1
    bonk's Avatar
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    how hazardous are these substances really ?

    I am using our kitchen for developing my b&w films and now I am wondering how hazardous the chemicals I use realy are. This is what I use:

    - XTOL developer
    - TMAX fixer
    - Ilford Iflostop
    - Tetenal Mirasol 2000 Antistatic
    - Kodak Rapid Selenium Toner
    - lots of distilled water
    - TMAX film

    Especially the selenium toner and the fixer smell very ... unhealthy.

    About the toxicity of selenium wiki says the following:

    Although selenium is an essential trace element, it is toxic if taken in excess. Exceeding the Tolerable Upper Intake Level of 400 micrograms per day can lead to selenosis. Symptoms of selenosis include a garlic odour on the breath, gastrointestinal disorders, hair loss, sloughing of nails, fatigue, irritability and neurological damage. Extreme cases of selenosis can result in cirrhosis of the liver, pulmonary edema and death.
    Sounds pretty scary ...

    For each of the mentioned chemicals Is it ok to
    1. work without gloves
    2. inhale their perspirations (work without mask)
    3. spill the used chemicals into the toilet
    4. spill the used chemicals into the kitchen sink
    5. generally use them in a kitchen (no matter how careful I am, I am sure some drops of the chemicals end up at places where food or dishes will be later, especially near the sink)
    Last edited by bonk; 11-17-2007 at 12:53 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  2. #2
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    The packages they came in should tell you. You should also be able to find the MSDS by a Google search. All of these can be washed up. Be careful with the water, though. It can drown you !
    Gadget Gainer

  3. #3
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    Do not allow any food containers to become contaminated with photo chemicals. They can react with some plastics and metals and be carried through a wash process.

    Selenium is the worst of the lot above. A bad smell is not an indication of toxic nature. Cyanide smells like almonds and Phosgene smells like fresh cut grass, but both are deadly. The smell of fixer is probably either ammonia or sulfite depending on pH. Neither is very poisonous in the amount you might inhale, but rather are more bothersome.

    At worst you might have an allergy to one of these chemicals, so always wear rubber gloves.

    PE

  4. #4

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    I would be extremely careful with the selenium. Don't contaminate anything in your kitchen with it. I wouldn't even use the stuff in my kitchen.

    I wouldn't do much else in my kitchen long term, but sometimes it's unavoidable

    When I do use the kitchen sink, I wash it and the surrounding areas very thoroughly and try my best not to spill anything. As for chemistry I have to admit I just dump it down the sink (ilford rapid fix, ID-11, and stop bath).
    The universe is a haunted house. -Coil
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  5. #5

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    don't even come into contact with the selenium. IOW, don't let it touch your skin--use gloves, tongs, robots, kids, whatever to protect yourself. if i'm correct here, selenium is a cumulative heavy metel whereas most other photo chemicals are ok in moderation, although obviously none of them are going to do you any good.

    but, yeah, selenium is one you probably don't want to even let come in contact with the kitchen sink.

  6. #6
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    Isn't selenium found in some anti-dandruff shampoos?


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  7. #7
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    Selenium is indeed found in many dandruff shampoos and also in dietary supplements. It is not all that toxic, but I would never use it in the kitchen under any circumstances, nor would I put my hand in a solution containing it without rubber gloves.

    The dandruff shampoo has a regulated level, but the concentrated and diluted toner may exceed levels recommended by the various governments.

    Anchell and Troop say that Pyro compounds used in toning developers are the most poisonous compounds you can use. Selenium would be second on that list IMHO.

    PE

  8. #8
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    I didn't mean for that smiley face to show up at the beginning.

    The skin is a barrier to most chemicals but not all. The compound of selenium that one finds in scalp treatments is not very good, if at all, as a toner for silver prints. The same OH part of NaOH that can turn your body oil to soap makes MgOH an antacid or a laxative if you take enough. Selenium can be on either end of a compound, as can its neighbor sulfur. I would not let the one, I forget which, come in contact with my skin but have probably used the other come in contact with my scalp. Elemental sulfur is not particularly harmful, but sulfur dioxide in water forms sulfurous acid, which can eat steel. Years ago, in Morgantown WV, we had a chemical plant that liberated large quantities of sulfur dioxide. Rain puddles became sulfurous acid baths and cars (this was before undercoating) had lace fenders.

    Any compound that you worry about should be investigated, but by its trade name or a generic name, not by the individual ingredients or elements. If I mix sodium hydroxide and hydrochloric acid in the right proportions, I will get salt water.

    Excuse my wanderings.
    Gadget Gainer

  9. #9

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    Richard Knoppow on Pyro toxicity: Source (http://www.viewcamera.com/pyro.html)

    “Pyrogallic acid is toxic but one must be careful in interpreting MSDS: mostly they are written for industrial users of substances who use and store them in very large quantity.

    Pyro is a sensitizer and can cause very strong skin reactions. It should be kept out of the eyes for the same reason. It is capable of causing life threatening damage if ingested in fairly large quantity. It will irritate the lungs and respiratory system if inhaled. Pyro can penetrate the skin but so can many other substances used in photography.
    There have been NO studies of the chronic effects of Pyro exposure. Pyro is no more hazardous than several other developing agents. It should be treated with respect but there is no unusual hazard in using it.
    Since airborne Pyro is dangerous to breathe in, it is wise to mix Pyro developers while wearing a dust mask and facial protection. You should wear nitrile gloves. Try to avoid getting the stuff into the air. It is in light flakes which become airborne easily so some care is needed.
    Mixed Pyro developers are only moderately hazardous but it is a good idea not to get your hands into them. Use nitrile gloves (latex is not good enough and some people are sensitive to latex). You don't need a dust mask to use the mixed developer; it is only the airborne flakes which are hazardous. Another reason for using gloves is that Pyro produces a very persistent brown stain on anything it is on when exposed to the air including your hands and cloths.”
    Last edited by Tom Hoskinson; 11-17-2007 at 08:48 PM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: typos
    Tom Hoskinson
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  10. #10
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    Tim Rudman on Pyro:

    The lowest known lethal dose of pyro was 28 mg/kg (Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances, 1985 - 86) on page 69 of his book "The Book of Pyro and the PMK Formula". Also, quoted in Anchell and Troop as the most dangerous chemical in the darkroom today.

    PE

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