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Pouring developer and stop down the drain
Old 09-25-2009   #1
kywong
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Pouring developer and stop down the drain

I did a fair bit of research before going out to buy chemicals to start developing film for the first time. From what I've read, it is okay to pour the developer and stop bath down the drain. However, the guy at the store is adamant that it is not.

So... is it okay to pour my developer and stop down the drain?
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Old 09-25-2009   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kywong View Post
I did a fair bit of research before going out to buy chemicals to start developing film for the first time. From what I've read, it is okay to pour the developer and stop bath down the drain. However, the guy at the store is adamant that it is not.

So... is it okay to pour my developer and stop down the drain?
This has been asked and answered repeatedly on RFF, and it's also available via Google search, so I'm not sure what your 'fair bit of research' consists of.

In general, it is NOT OK to pour used photo chemistry down the drain. However, a lot depends on where you live as to whether or not it is legal.

Check the city and county where you live. Some have this information online, some require you to call them. I've lived in places where they didn't even know themselves, since nobody ever asks (which presumes that most people do indeed pour it down the drain).

Kodak has extensive information about proper disposal of photo chemistry, why you should not pour it down the drain, and how to properly dispose of it.

It is also known to be bad for septic systems if you are not connected to municipal sewage systems.

I have posted numerous links in previous posts. Forgive me, but I'm not going to go find them. Please do so yourself.
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Old 09-25-2009   #3
BillBingham2
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Are you on a municipal sewer system then the odds are yes. In a large population dilution will take care of it fine. If you were doing it on the level of a lab then no, follow the instructions for taking care of it.

I'm sure by doing it some one will say you've killed a sewer rat or two but bathroom cleaners are a whole lot worse.

B2 (;->
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Old 09-25-2009   #4
Dave Wilkinson
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I pour it away along the bottom of my shed walls - it seems to make a good weed killer!
Dave.
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Old 09-25-2009   #5
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Originally Posted by BillBingham2 View Post
Are you on a municipal sewer system then the odds are yes. In a large population dilution will take care of it fine. If you were doing it on the level of a lab then no, follow the instructions for taking care of it.

I'm sure by doing it some one will say you've killed a sewer rat or two but bathroom cleaners are a whole lot worse.

B2 (;->
OK, I didn't want to go looking for it, but here's the link to Kodak's advice on the matter:

http://www.kodak.com/eknec/PageQueri...q-locale=en_US

Quote:
Most photographic processing effluents and wash waters contain chemicals that are biodegradable. They are, therefore, compatible with aerobic (with oxygen) biological treatment systems and are effectively treated when sent to an efficient sewage treatment facility. Permission from the local treatment authority may be needed (a written consent or permit is usually needed and limits what can and can't be discharge). Contact your local authorities to see if you need consent and to determine local discharge limits.
Kodak strongly recommends that you never pour silver-bearing effluents such as used fixers, bleach-fix or stabilizers down the drain. Rather you should use on-site or off-site silver recovery.
Emphasis mine in the quote above.

My suggestion remains contacting your own local authority and finding out what they say about it, as opposed to pouring it down the drain without finding out first.
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Old 09-25-2009   #6
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I pour it away along the bottom of my shed walls - it seems to make a good weed killer!
Dave.
That Greenpeace SWAT team is speeding along the M62 as I type

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Old 09-25-2009   #7
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I pour it away along the bottom of my shed walls - it seems to make a good weed killer!
Dave.
No worries about the environment then, eh?

This topic always amazes me. RFF is rife with save-the-squirrels types, who refuse to eat meat or wear leather and hug lots of trees. But when it comes to film, well, they use it (made from boiled horse's hooves and bones) and they pour the chemicals wherever they damned well please, no matter what it might do to the environment or what the local laws on the matter might be.

And then they whinge about how the USA is breaking the planet with global warming.

Irony. I savor it.
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Old 09-25-2009   #8
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Many local authority guidelines are formulated by non-scientists, which is why some are so unrealistically stringent. My favourite is that silver is a poisonous heavy metal, because (a) it's heavy and (b) it's a metal: minor considerations about reactivity are not allowed into the equation.

I once did a little light research on the poisoning of enzymes by heavy metals (by which I mean I tried to poison enzymes with heavy metals) and while, for example, cadmium is pretty bad news, silver ain't. This was decades ago but all the proper reseach I have read by far more skilled scientists bears out my limited conclusion.

If photographic chemicals were as dangerous as some people seem to believe, we'd all have died years ago.

Silver is the only component where there's any realistic danger, and even then, it's not that big a risk: read the CDC warnings about silver, and then do a bit of Googling about how quickly silver from fixer is locked away after it has gone down the drain.

Cheers,

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Old 09-25-2009   #9
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Quote:
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I once did a little light research on the poisoning of enzymes by heavy metals (by which I mean I tried to poison enzymes with heavy metals)
Actual experiments What a very old-fashioned way of thinking Much better to look it up, from some source of "advocacy statistics" or run it through a "computer model" which produces whatever result you desire, regardless of input.

It's the modern way, you know. So get with the program!

...Mike
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Old 09-25-2009   #10
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From a chemistry point of view, pouring developer down the drain is not nice, but not too terrible either, at least with hydroquinone-based developers. Hydroquinone occurs in nature, which is why you can develop in coffee. It also occurs in the digestive tract. To put it frankly, the day after an evening with a good number of beers you're likely to deposit more hydroquinone into the sewage processing system than if you pour in a shot of used Rodinal (in theory you could develop in feces, which in practice, however, nobody seems too eager to do). In quantities from a hobbyist lab, the active substances from used developer are likely to be broken down already by the time they reach the sewage plant. However, given that you should turn in your used fixer anyway, you could collect your used developer, too.

Stop bath is usually a very weak acid, such as citric acid. This can be safely poured down the drain. If you're worried, you can use water as a stop bath. It will do the job, too. There are residues of developer in the stop bath, but we are talking about negligible drops.

The worst thing to pour down the drain is fixer, as it contains silver which is detrimental to the bacteria doing all the work in your local sewage processing plant. In theory, you can get the silver out of the fixer at home using sodium dithionite (leave it in the open, as it will produce sulphur dioxide) or using iron wool. This is what Kodak calls silver recovery. In practice, Kodak's recommendation is geared at medium-scale to large-scale labs. For a home lab, getting the silver out of the residue by smelting is complicated enough and produces so little quantities that it may not be feasible. The alternative is to give the fixer to whatever municipal authority is handling it in your case.

The thing Roger wrote about silver being heavy ignores that the silver is bound and in solution. If it would sink down on account of being heavy, all the heavy sodium cloride (specific weight 2.17 g/cm³) aka "salt" in the oceans should sink down to the bottom. Somehow it doesn't. Silver is indeed hazardous to microorganisms, which is why it is used to clean biological contaminations from drinking water. In the case of a sewage plant, however, you're interested in the survival of these microorganisms.
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Old 09-25-2009   #11
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Originally Posted by bmattock View Post
No worries about the environment then, eh?

This topic always amazes me. RFF is rife with save-the-squirrels types, who refuse to eat meat or wear leather and hug lots of trees. But when it comes to film, well, they use it (made from boiled horse's hooves and bones) and they pour the chemicals wherever they damned well please, no matter what it might do to the environment or what the local laws on the matter might be.

And then they whinge about how the USA is breaking the planet with global warming.

Irony. I savor it.
Nah! - I shot one of your grey squirrels, in my yard last week , but not our red ones - they're scarce! - I was polluting the air with my pipe smoke while waiting for a steak to grill!....and global warming?...Ill be able to sleep naked - on a winter night!
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Old 09-25-2009   #12
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That Greenpeace SWAT team is speeding along the M62 as I type

have you tried 'speeding' along the M62 - on a Friday afternoon lately?
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Old 09-25-2009   #13
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Nah! - I shot one of your grey squirrels, in my yard last week , but not our red ones - they're scarce! - I was polluting the air with my pipe smoke while waiting for a steak to grill!....and global warming?...Ill be able to sleep naked - on a winter night!
Dave.

I defiantly find the last bit most disturbing
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Old 09-25-2009   #14
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have you tried 'speeding' along the M62 - on a Friday afternoon lately?


I find it hard to believe people head towards Hull for the weekend!

Of course Greenpeace will have to stop and recharge the van at Drax so you’ll be OK for a bit

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Old 09-25-2009   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rxmd View Post
The thing Roger wrote about silver being heavy ignores that the silver is bound and in solution. If it would sink down on account of being heavy[...]


All Roger wrote about silver being heavy was:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Hicks View Post
My favourite is that silver is a poisonous heavy metal, because (a) it's heavy and (b) it's a metal: minor considerations about reactivity are not allowed into the equation.
I see nothing there about silver sinking...

...Mike
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Old 09-25-2009   #16
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I only use Rodinal 1:100 stand developing and fixer1:8.

I once forgot to unsoup a film after an hour, and only got around to it the next morning. Negatives still were acceptably usable, which leads me to believe the Rodinal does wear off in a 1:100 dilution pretty quick.

In the Netherlands, 98% of homes is on a sewage system, so no trouble there either on the developer.

I promise to be more careful with the fixer though!
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Old 09-25-2009   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Hicks View Post
Many local authority guidelines are formulated by non-scientists, which is why some are so unrealistically stringent. My favourite is that silver is a poisonous heavy metal, because (a) it's heavy and (b) it's a metal: minor considerations about reactivity are not allowed into the equation.
Despite the fact that I agree most authorities are dolts (I actually believe most people are dolts, present company excepted), I tend to also believe that living in a society implies adhering to the rules of that society. So finding out what the rules are and then following them is actually something I consider a good thing.


The world is full of scoff-laws of all sorts. Justified and unjustified. They run stop signs, refuse to pull over for emergency vehicles, double-park, and steal library books. I suppose the world will not grind to a halt because people refuse to obey the rules that we as humans have set up for ourselves.

However, I can't help but note the irony, if not outright hypocrisy, of those who shout and scream about the environment and then do the opposite because they don't believe the rules apply to them or that they were incorrectly written.

Personally, I am one who does not believe that humans broke the planet, but I will recycle and properly dispose of my hazardous waste anyway. I also drive the speed limit and pay my taxes. How weird is that?
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Old 09-25-2009   #18
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I work at a college where all chemicals and chemical use are tightly controlled. Developer and Permawash go down the drain to be dealt with at the local sewage plant. Stop is neutralized before going down the drain and fix is run through a silver recovery unit.

Home use of photo chemistry and water use is such a miniscule drop in the bucket compared to the use by industry anywhere in the world, we'd never even come close in a year to what a small factory does in a day or two.
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Old 09-25-2009   #19
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Home use of photo chemistry and water use is such a miniscule drop in the bucket compared to the use by industry anywhere in the world, we'd never even come close in a year to what a small factory does in a day or two.
Then I should not concern myself with what smoke my car belches out. It's such a small drop in the bucket compared to the smoke from everyone's car taken all together.

Is that right?
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Old 09-25-2009   #20
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Then I should not concern myself with what smoke my car belches out. It's such a small drop in the bucket compared to the smoke from everyone's car taken all together.

Is that right?
You don't have an electric vehicle yet?
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Old 09-25-2009   #21
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I also drive the speed limit
Well, I try - but I drive a clapped-out Saab 900GLE so sometimes it's difficult, even on mild hills.

...Mike
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Old 09-25-2009   #22
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You don't have an electric vehicle yet?
When I can buy one for $500 on eBay, like my current vehicle...
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Old 09-25-2009   #23
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Then I should not concern myself with what smoke my car belches out. It's such a small drop in the bucket compared to the smoke from everyone's car taken all together.

Is that right?
Not exactly. Consider that if we all here stopped using all our chemistry there would be no measurable change in the environment (save for beside Dave's shed) as combined we make up such a miniscule percentage of the chemistry poured down drains. If we all showered once a week we'd still not come close to saving anywhere near the amount of water many single factories waste in a single day.

When the materials are disposed of carefully and within regulations I have no moral problem using film. I take my chemistry to work for proper disposal and treatment as I'm on a septic tank. If you think it is a problem for you, in your set-up, then by all means take whatever actions you feel are necessary.

I didn't tell him to dump it down the storm drain or pour it on his cornflakes. I gave an example of dealing with photo chemistry properly (following local law and strict organizational policy) which does allow for developer to be poured down the drain. You may not like it but it is perfectly acceptable to our Chemical Control Officer who is very well versed in federal and local law and informed on the hazards of every chemical used in our lab. The opinion of someone with years of education and training around this issue seemed relevant to the discussion.

I haven't asked for her thoughts on your car, but I can if you like.
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Old 09-25-2009   #24
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When I can buy one for $500 on eBay, like my current vehicle...
Ooh a bike rider?
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Old 09-25-2009   #25
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Despite the fact that I agree most authorities are dolts (I actually believe most people are dolts, present company excepted), I tend to also believe that living in a society implies adhering to the rules of that society. So finding out what the rules are and then following them is actually something I consider a good thing.
. . .

Personally, I am one who does not believe that humans broke the planet, but I will recycle and properly dispose of my hazardous waste anyway. I also drive the speed limit and pay my taxes. How weird is that?
Dear Bill,

There's an old saying to the effect that laws are for the obedience of the foolish and the guidance of the wise.

The actual working rules of a society, as distinct from its huffings, puffings and posturings, are not necessarily summarized at all well in law. I think it was Sir Robert Mark, sometime Chief Constable of the Metropolitan Police, who said something to the effect that some laws are passed to reflect public opinion, not to be enforced.

Cheers,

R.
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