Darkroom ventilation, the straight dope answer?!
It seems that there are a TON of opinions on darkroom chemicals, ventilation required etc. A lot of posts on photo.net have people saying the chemicals arent that bad. Some say it causes nervous system damage. I am lost. I just got some darkroom equipment and built me a bathroom darkroom. DId a first print, didnt notice horrid oders (using kodafix, kodak indicator stop and dektol). Thats it, just a B&W darkroom not even using any toner stuff.
Now my bathroom is probably about 12 feet long. and about 4 feet wide. Its longer cause there is a door 3/4 way through that goes to the toilet itself, where the fan is. Opposite side is the tub, where i put my stop and fix trays (developer on counter top near enlarger under safe light). It is a bathroom that is ventilated with the bathroom fan, and air ducts in both toilet area and main shower/sink area that is where AC and heat come through. Is this adequate? Or should i think about another fan? Like I said i didnt notice any oders, but I emailed my photo I teacher I had last semester how I built a darkroom his response was "cool etc etc make sure its ventilated u don't want brain cancer", so I emailed my cousin whose a photographer and said I couldn't figure out if the teacher (whose always a kidder) was being serious or fictitious, and he responds with a "serious". LOL so now I am figuring out if what I have is adequate or if I want to attach a lightproof fan to the one small (currently closed and covered) window in the bathroom.
Thanks for any responses... oh and this is also a nice intro, i'm new here
Welcome to APUG. I think you will find this forum to be "a breath of fresh air" .
Good ventilation means a comfortable working environment. The chemistry you are currently using is not particularly strong or hazardous (most household cleaning products are probably worse) so your focus should be on having enough ventilation to keep your room comfortable.
If you find the darkroom gets overly humid, warm or "stuffy", then another fan would be a good idea.
There are some photographic chemicals that are more hazardous. Some of the toners come to mind. Most of them are usable in the light, so it is probably not a good idea to use them in the darkroom anyways.
Here is a link to a page on the Ilford website that discusses ventilation:
You may want to wander through that site because there is a lot of good information there.
Here is a link to a useful Kodak publication as well:
There are a lot of useful links in that "/techPubs/" directory.
Hope this helps.
I need to say first that you should follow the directions on the packaging.
Beyond that, commerically available paper developers and fixers require no special ventilation; they are not known or suspected carcinogens, and are only toxic if ingested in excessive quantities. So don't do that. If you do a lot of printing and you keep an open try of fixer going, visitors may ask where your cat is.
LOL @ the cat comment. Thanks for the info...I sorta did think it would be okay, but I am no chemist...so figured I should ask. I am really good at following directions too thank god for that . Just don't know if they print those warnings as if u were in a optimal environment. (i.e. its all safe if u do this and that if your in a REAL darkroom lol )
Here is a supplier of thinks for a darkroom. Might be worth a look. I'm buying a vent hood from him and have, at his suggestion purchased a vent fan and some light tight ventilation louvers. Bill Barber
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Try to find a place outside the living area for toning. I use the garage.
I'd be tempted to ask him where he got his info on contracting brain cancer. Sounds like a wind-up to me. Anyone who was serious about this risk would have expanded on the statement. Ari has a post on bicycles. He wants to get fit etc. As a throwaway line, the one sent to you sounds a little like one of us saying to Ari that he might of course drop dead if he peddles too hard too soon or "be very careful not to exceed X revolutions per minute or terrible things will happen"
I also do straight B&W in my darkroom(converted bedroom). No toners, no exotic chems etc and no ill effects I am aware of. At the end of the evening session I open the door, move 6-8 feet into the bedroom where I sleep and nothing follows me in terms of noxious fumes.
I am of course always "dogged" by the evening's bad prints which follow me even into my dreams! After a bad session I do come into contact with noxious liquids. My poison's white lightning from Speyside in Scotland. What's yours?
Seriously, keep a sense of proportion about ordinary B&W chems and keep printing.
heh thanks, funny synopsis. I think he was just going dramatic by "brain cancer" trying to enlighten that if it was in a super cramped closet with no air removal for hours on end, it wouldn't probably leave me feeling so well...
All you need is what the chemical industry calls GLP (Good Lab Practice) or if you're doing a ton of prints GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice)
Basically as mentioned above, don't throw the stuff around like air freshener, don't swallow it (And don't eat your sandwiches in there, or handle food with contaminated hands), and if you've got sensitive skin handle your prints with tongs or wear cheap disposable rubber gloves.
Actually the tongs and or gloves are a good idea anyway if you don't want the smell of the solutions on your skin, as it does linger a bit even after washing off
"Flatter Me, and I May Not Believe You. Criticize Me, and I May Not like You. Ignore Me, and I May Not Forgive You. Encourage Me, and I Will Not Forget You."
When in doubt, I request MSDS sheets from the manufacturer or supplier and I increase ventilation. The MSDS sheets, in the U.S. anyway, are required to list the potential risks. Just for comparison, if you request MSDS sheets for your darkroom chemicals get some for some of your household cleaners and such, too. Some of those are way nastier than these darkroom chemicals.