Sore throat caused by RA-4 Ektacolor chemistry?
I run a photo lab with a 60" kreonite processor running Kodak Ektacolor RA-4 chemistry with a huge overhead ventilator overhead. This is a university lab, so the space is used by many different people. Recently I've been receiving complaints from students, staff, and employees about a temporary sore throat they get while printing. I've noticed the sore throat myself, and it only happens when there is a high volume of prints running through the processor. Tried contacting Kodak about this, but haven't gotten any response yet. I've also inspected the MSDS sheets for clues but no luck there.
Anyone have any experience with this? Am I just now being sensitized to the irritant after 4 years of being around it? Does anyone know if trebla or Fuji chemistry is any more or less likely to cause respiratory problems like this. Not really sure who to turn to here...
Thanks for your help/input!
Can't say anything about that soar throat thing.
Fuji offers special "odor free" RA-4 chemistry.
My guess would be sulfur dioxide. What do you 'smell' in the darkroom?
I would verify that the huge ventilator is working as it was suppose to. Also that you are changing filters to filter off any oxidized cruddies that might smell worst over time in your machine?
Is someone changing the drive belts on the extractor fan and are any filters plugged up ? Has anyone changed the construction of any make up air inlet points?
Has any old maintenance staff retired and not told the next guy what the job entials to keep your vent working?
Are any of you tanks or dryers running hotter than they are meant to? That could push up the evaporation rate.
I had a thermocouple in a pre developer wash bath die, and the heater in that bath consequently took off an pushed the bath to 50C. The increase in humidity cued me to that.
my real name, imagine that.
I absolutely agree with everything above. Double check to be sure your ventilators are working correctly and that your machine is running per spec. That stuff ought to be done, periodically, anyway so kill two birds with one stone.
However, there might be something else to think about.
I could go down to the darkroom every day for a week, using paper and film developers, selenium toner, sepia toner and all sorts of "nasty" stuff, but nobody in the house would complain one bit. Nobody would so much as sneeze or blink an eye.
On another occasion, I could be completely out of the darkroom for a two weeks or more, all my chemicals will be in sealed bottles, all my waste will have been long disposed of in accordance with good procedure and the darkroom could be completely shut down but, if I came home from the store carrying a newly purchased bottle of fixer, still in its original sealed container, and set it down on the table while I take off my coat, some people would see the "poison" symbol on the label then immediately start wheezing and coughing, "Your chemicals are making me sick!"
There is virtually no possibility that there are chemical fumes in the air but the mere suggestion that there might be something wrong can make people feel sick when they shouldn't be.
If one person in the room suddenly starts complaining about feeling sick, others might suddenly start feeling sick, too.
You also need to consider that we are in the midst of a major change of season. People who might be feeling under the weather could feel worse if they are exposed to the smell of photo chemicals. Under normal circumstances, they wouldn't be bothered but, now that their health is under stress, people who wouldn't normally be bothers might start to complain.
I am NOT saying that I think people are making it all up but you still have to consider that people who might not be feeling well in the first place could feel worse if subjected to these kinds of conditions.
Interestingly, enough, checking your equipment and ensuring that there is proper ventilation could serve to help this problem. If people know that you are working on the problem and that you are making progress, they are likely to feel better just because their fears are allayed.
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I have worked with the color paper process since about 1955. It has changed little in chemical composition since then, mainly in distribution of the chemicals and the removal of Ferri Cyanide from the bleach. If you use a stop bath, you may generate SO2 gas, but if not, there is little chance for any gas to form. High humidity is an enemy at 100F in high volume labs.
The bleach can emit ammonia, but only if the replensiment rate for the blix is off.
Anytime I do marathon B&W print runs in my darkroom using my Durst processor, I get a discomforted throat. I try to use trays for B&W and drums for color as much as I can.
My durst uses 4L of developer a fix, and the humidity ramps up. You can feel it after four hours.