Well Aggie - you sure got a lot of responses on this one - To glove or not to glove, that is the question. ....

I never touch any chemicals for film (I don't need to) - I don't tray develop and I don't do 8x10 film. I have a great deal of respect for Pyro and Catechol and am very careful with them.

I have no idea how you would manipulate a 16x20 fiber print with tongs and I can't feel the wetness on the gloves and that causes me to spoil the next sheet. Maybe I need training? I use tongs for toner - selenium and cyanide have me spooked.

I figure with all things it is a matter of exposure. If I breathe L.A. air all day everyday, I will die young from lung cancer - so - when I am in L.A. - I only breathe half as much (LOL) and I don't go into L.A. every day. I don't work in my darkroom more than a half dozen times a month. And I only spend four or five hours in there. So my exposure is less than 25 hours a month broken into four hour streaches of breathing the air and soaking my hands. In that I also minimize my exposure with frequent rinsing and drying. I believe this minimal exposure level is reasonably safe. I pulled MSDS sheets on most of the chemicals I use and none of them are an extrordinary health hazard. Metol, Hydroquinone and Thoisulphate are the bulk of it. I have read that some of photographic chemicals are not unlike chemicals that the body creates and treats as waste in normal living, being just another iteration of the Benzine ring. Of course a genetic disposition of sensitivity to any one of these chemicals would certainly be an unfortunate turn of luck. But on the other hand, if I am not so unlucky, there is a reasonable chance there will be no adverse consequences. Kind of like hiking in the woods - there is a reasonable chance you won't get eaten by a bear, poisoned by a snake or given Lyme Disease by a tick. So I hike also.

If I was in the darkroom 4 hours a day, I would certainly do things different.