To sum it all up, no open sores in the darkroom, or wear gloves and wash your hands before eating.
Cheap gloves and a fan outside the door blowing the air into a larger room... got it.
This is cool. Surprised the B&W folks do not come here to chase me any more . With this, I do not know what the folks who process color prints in open trays think. The fumes from the open trays are not healthy. I'm not sure if they can or do wear gloves when they process sheet films in open tanks. Oh well....
A photo amateur
Sinar P2/F2/Nikon F100/Bronica ETRSi/GS/Saunders 4550XLG/Jobo CPP2/CPE+/Colorline 7000
The printer who taught me darkroom skills from 1987 to 1993 developed skin cancer not from sun exposure, but from decades of developing and printing his B&W and colour prints. In his later years was greatly troubled by cancer of the esophagus. His family had a history of heart problems, but no pattern of cancer. When he died, his wife converted the darkroom into a storage space, the wider studio into a gallery and tossed out four enlargers by dumping them on the street. He never wore gloves or glasses, had just one extractor fan, two safelights and a cocktail of chemicals that the fire brigade once described during an inspection as "having enough firepower to flatten the town" (and the town wasn't that big, about 8 streets and 400 people). He could in real terms have been described as cavalier and "just get on with it". A bit of a larrikin with a mind of his own. But he was a bloody good printer of both colour and B&W and no doubt his images are enduring to this day.
“The photographer must determine how he wants the finished print to look before he exposes the negative.
Before releasing the shutter, he must seek 'the flame of recognition,' a sense that the picture would reveal
the greater mystery of things...more clearly than the eyes see." ~Edward Weston, 1922.
PE, I've got to lean on you a bit about this, because so many here trust you explicitly. You are dismissing the skin sensitizer aspect, which can have pretty bad consequences. I've spent a lot of years with large photofinishers and have seen problems, even with best attempts to head them off. I've seen people go out of work for weeks until their skin healed, and who had to leave their processing jobs because they could no longer be near the chemicals. Granted, it is a very small proportion of ALL the people in those jobs, but...it could end up being anyone here.
Originally Posted by Photo Engineer
I'm going to quote excerpts from a Kodak 'Z' manual, one of the bibles of photofinishers. It's Using KODAK EKTACOLOR Chemicals, Z-130 01/12 (page 1-12)
I had read all of these precautions previously, but when my boss, who had freely handled developers for 10 years, picked up the allergy, I changed my ways! If he entered a mixing area, and turned a doorknob, the next day his hand looked like a poisin ivy reaction. I didn't want the same thing happening to me (and fortunately it never has).
Dermatitis is the medical term used to describe a skin inflammation. Contact with some materials, such as acids and bases, can cause irritative contact dermatitis, while other chemicals, such as photographic developers, may cause allergic contact dermatitis.
Early symptoms of irritative contact dermatitis may include dry, red, cracked, or scaly skin at the site of contact. Symptoms may worsen with continued chemical exposure. In most cases of allergic contact dermatitis, the symptoms are itchy blisters similar to those seen from exposure to poison ivy or poison oak. Although the rash is usually confined to the site of contact, most often fingers, hands, and forearms, it may spread to other areas. Sometimes people can work with a chemical for years without any noticeable effect, only to develop contact dermatitis at a later date. The time between contact and when a response develops varies widely among individuals.
To prevent contact dermatitis when handling photographic processing chemicals, follow these guidelines:
• Wear the proper gloves. Do not use gloves sold for household use; they may not be durable enough for handling photographic processing chemicals. Neoprene or nitrile gloves protect you from photographic processing chemicals. To minimize the possibility of chemicals coming in contact with your bare hands, rinse gloves thoroughly with water before taking them off....
• In case of contact with chemicals, wash your hands or other affected skin areas immediately with plenty of water. Wash with a mild soap or pH-balanced cleanser (like pHisoderm or pHotoDerm).
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I will throw in my two cents. I have never used gloves or any sort of protection apart from eye protection, although now I am moved i am going to get some cheap nitrile gloves.
Also, Metol Developers in particular are known to cause dermatitis. For B/W, I presume if one used no protection, using a Phenidone / Sodium Ascorbate film developer, and a PQ developer might be the way to go for prints, although hydroquione can be carcinogenic as well. I use my fixer for film 1 + 14 for 15 minutes for film, one-shot, so any contact i have had with fixer is dilute. Thiosulphates are not too bad, but the other things in it might not be pleasent, unless one used straight hypo?
I have done RA4 developing in a cupboard under the stairs last year when i lived in my home town but the chemical fumes gave me so much of a headache so i gave it a pass. I now do it in a large open room with ventilation, in this new flat the same will apply. I find RA4 chemicals worse than E6 and C41 in general handling and how irritant they are to my skin.
A couple of comments here then. I have never heard of anyone getting dermatitis if they wear gloves and use safety glasses. I both use gloves and do not use gloves from time to time and have never gotten dermatitis and so that aspect depends on the individual. I have sever allergies but not to photographic chemicals it seems, and so this is a case by case basis.
I don't know how the chemicals in a darkroom can flatten a town! HQ? Metol? Carbonate? Hypo? Normal photographic darkroom chemicals are not explosive nor are they prone to catch fire.
Photographic chemicals caused skin cancer and cancer of the esophagus? This was determined how?? At Kodak, IDK of any concrete diagnosis of any cancer directly linked to photographic chemicals. The main things were allergic reactions, and liver and kidney problems, but not cancer. To this end, all of us working with chemicals had blood tests every 6 months where they looked for a variety of markers for liver and kidney damage and for cancer.
I have mentioned elsewhere that most "instructional" videos on Youtube make me cringe at the work-practices and technical explanations given. Absolutely normal precautions, used happily in every workplace or home, for handling hobby materials (whether photo-chemicals or other household products) are frequently ignored.
With appropriate minimal equipment and technique one does not come in to skin contact with photo chemicals and with reasonable ventilation for colour materials there is no problem there either. Repeatedly ignoring being sensible and prudent gives one entry to the Darwin Awards, but one would have to try very, very hard indeed to 'win' anything using only normal photographic supplies.
Have you considered using a barrier creme? There are two types you want the one that protects against water soluble chemicals. You can get it at most large drugstores. It's sort of like wearing invisible gloves.
Originally Posted by Terry Christian
A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.
~Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Thanks for confirming PE. I would hate to see anyone develop a severe allergy without KNOWING of the possibility, however slim.
Once you see someone who has the severe case, you appreciate what it would be like if YOU became sensitized, while realizing that this situation is probably preventable.