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Author Topic: Disposing of Chemicals in a Septic Tank  (Read 106054 times)
pflower
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« on: March 04, 2007, 08:40:08 AM »
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I am going to set up a new darkroom.  We are not on the main sewers but instead have a very efficient septic tank.  Anyone got any ideas as to whether it is feasible to use a small domestic darkroom (mostly silver film and paper processing but also selenium toning) in conjunction with a septic tank?  If not what then might be the alternative?
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LoisWakeman
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« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2007, 06:09:34 AM »
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I think you need to ask a drainage consultant for a proper answer: but my off-the-cuff reaction would be (a) putting poisons* into the tank might inhibit the bacterial action and (b ) you can be fined £100,000s for environmental pollution in the UK at least, so best not to risk it.

* One isn't recommended to put relatively innocuous substances, like enzyme washing powders and bleach, down the drains for that very reason. And our tank-emptier says if he gets even a whiff of untoward taint in the tank (e.g. MEK from cleaning paintbrushes), he will take it to a hazardous waste tip and charge accordingly.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2007, 06:10:30 AM by LoisWakeman » Logged
digitaldog
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« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2007, 09:07:21 AM »
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Sounds like a bad idea! We're on a septic and you have to be very careful what you dump down there. Nasty stuff.
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Andrew Rodney
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pflower
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« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2007, 02:26:57 PM »
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I have done some further research and it looks as if you are both right - the problem is mostly silver.  Some people suggest using a "silver magnet" which would recover the silver from fixer so that you could safely dispose of the fixer absent the silver.  But I am also concerned about selenium which is a pretty nasty material.  In any event I suspect that fixer even absent a silver content would not appeal to all the nice little bacteria working away in my septic tank and I wouldn't want to upset them!

I don't think dumping the waste from my darkroom into a septic tank is a good idea.

But then what on earth can I do?  I could pour all the spent fixer, developer and selenium toner into a tank - but then what?  

There must be an alternative solution - or is that you can only have a darkroom which is connected to the main sewers?
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wolfnowl
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« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2007, 12:42:13 AM »
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Don't dump chemicals into your septic OR into the sewers.  Contact the local municipality to find out where/when to take hazardous waste and let them deal with it properly.  Yes, people have been dumping stuff for years, and yes, it's always been a bad idea.

Mike.
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Ray
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« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2007, 12:51:25 AM »
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Jeez! Don't create problems where there are none. If the chenicals are harmful to the natural biological processes of your sceptic tank, then just dump them on a spare piece of ground. If you are on a sceptic tank system, then it is easy to divert grey water to any location you want.
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howiesmith
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« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2007, 09:07:59 AM »
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Jeez! Don't create problems where there are none. If the chenicals are harmful to the natural biological processes of your sceptic tank, then just dump them on a spare piece of ground. If you are on a sceptic tank system, then it is easy to divert grey water to any location you want.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=104955\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Don't create a problem on that spare piece of ground either.  Dispose of the chemmies properly.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2007, 11:45:56 AM by howiesmith » Logged
larryg
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« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2007, 12:20:38 PM »
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I built a darkroom (b & W) years ago and have a drain that goes right into the septic system.   Never gave it a thought (although I don't use the darkroom and have not dumped anything down the drain yet).

Exactly right about the working enzymes in the system that breaks down the waste.
It would be really a bad idea to interfer with the septic system.

I would assume that you deliver your chemicals to someone who can dispose of them properly.  (aka they dump it down their drain to the city sewer system?)
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Tony Pickhaver
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« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2007, 10:11:59 AM »
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I am going to set up a new darkroom.  We are not on the main sewers but instead have a very efficient septic tank.  Anyone got any ideas as to whether it is feasible to use a small domestic darkroom (mostly silver film and paper processing but also selenium toning) in conjunction with a septic tank?  If not what then might be the alternative?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=104553\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I ran a small but busy commercial photography business from the farm buildings behind my house with full colour and b/w processing facilities (E6, C41 and print etc). We had only a septic tank at first (some 23 years ago) and then a biodisc sewage processor so disposing of waste was always a problem. When I asked them, Kodak suggested that the wash off from film and paper wasn't a serious problem to a septic tank as the silver and other chemistry was so diluted but we should never throw used chemistry down the sink as that would de-oxygenate the whole sewage process. We finished up paying a fortune to a company called Silver Lining (don't know if they still exist) to take all the waste away.  That's the nice thing about shooting digital!

Bets of luck

Tony Pickhaver
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Ray
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« Reply #9 on: March 08, 2007, 05:29:32 PM »
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Don't create a problem on that spare piece of ground either.  Dispose of the chemmies properly.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=105002\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Which is more important, your own health or the biological health of a small piece of ground? If the chemicals used in a darkroom are so harmful that they would do serious long term damage to a small patch of ground, despite oxidation and dilution by the elements, I'd be very reluctant to breath in the fumes of such chemicals. However, even a conventional toilet cleaner will upset the biological processes in a sceptic tank.
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #10 on: March 08, 2007, 07:48:20 PM »
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Which is more important, your own health or the biological health of a small piece of ground? If the chemicals used in a darkroom are so harmful that they would do serious long term damage to a small patch of ground, despite oxidation and dilution by the elements, I'd be very reluctant to breath in the fumes of such chemicals. However, even a conventional toilet cleaner will upset the biological processes in a sceptic tank.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=105540\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Shucks! I guess I'd better give up on my idea of keeping a small tray of fixer next to my computer, just for the nostalgia of that good darkroom smell.  
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Ray
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« Reply #11 on: March 09, 2007, 01:35:24 AM »
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Shucks! I guess I'd better give up on my idea of keeping a small tray of fixer next to my computer, just for the nostalgia of that good darkroom smell.  
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=105563\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

My father was a keen amateur photographer from the age of 15 when he got his first camera. I was raised in a household where there was a permanent darkroom. I believe that the fumes from those chemicals could eventually prove harmful to anyone spending several hours every day in such an environment. My father lived to the ripe old age of 96.

The original question was in relation to setting up a small scale, domestic darkroom, not a large scale, commercial enterprise. Small quantities of waste developer and fixer should not be a problem tipped into a small pit in the garden.

If you were really fussy, you could line the pit with builders' plastic and fill with sawdust. The sawdust would allow the chemicals to slowly evaporate and the plastic would prevent any chemicals from seeping into the soil. Then once every 5 years or so, you could remove the plastic, leaving the dried chemicals and sawdust compost, and try growing tomatos. You might need a bit of lime   .
« Last Edit: March 09, 2007, 01:47:55 AM by Ray » Logged
howiesmith
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« Reply #12 on: March 09, 2007, 10:20:03 AM »
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The original question was in relation to setting up a small scale, domestic darkroom, not a large scale, commercial enterprise. Small quantities of waste developer and fixer should not be a problem tipped into a small pit in the garden.

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=105601\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

The original question also included selenium toner.  Selenium is a heavy metal and very toxic.  Kodak (a maker of this toner) recommends using rubber gloves to handle it and to not even dump it into a sewer without first depleting the toner and filtering.

I still recommend proper disposal of all chemicals, at least until the "should not be a problem" is resolved.  This might be better than "Geez, I didn't see that coming."

++++++++++++++++++

My father never had a dark room and died at 59.  Maybe this junk is really good for you.  Fun with jumping to conclusions.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2007, 10:27:30 AM by howiesmith » Logged
Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #13 on: March 09, 2007, 11:12:20 AM »
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My father never had a dark room and died at 59.  Maybe this junk is really good for you.  Fun with jumping to conclusions.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=105649\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Just about the time I stopped using my darkroom a few years ago I ran across a "longevity" website that urged people to take a selenium supplement daily! So maybe toning in selenium does make the photographer more "archival."    
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-Eric Myrvaagnes

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howiesmith
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« Reply #14 on: March 09, 2007, 11:33:59 AM »
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Just about the time I stopped using my darkroom a few years ago I ran across a "longevity" website that urged people to take a selenium supplement daily! So maybe toning in selenium does make the photographer more "archival."   
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=105664\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Small doses may perserve life.  Large uncontrolled doses may perserve the body.  

Kodak makes toner, not pills.  They may be (arguably) better informed about the effects of toner on people and the environment.

Then again, maybe if the filter were the photographer's kidneys, he could get his daily dose of selenium and protect the environment at the same time.  Just drink the used toner instead of dumping it into the family garden.  But then, it might end up in the septic tank anyway.

All things considered, I still think proper disposal is safer.  But then I am not a Nobel winning chemist.
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Ray
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« Reply #15 on: March 09, 2007, 07:51:32 PM »
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The original question also included selenium toner.  Selenium is a heavy metal and very toxic.  Kodak (a maker of this toner) recommends using rubber gloves to handle it and to not even dump it into a sewer without first depleting the toner and filtering.

I still recommend proper disposal of all chemicals, at least until the "should not be a problem" is resolved.  This might be better than "Geez, I didn't see that coming."

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=105649\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

There are many substances which are toxic whilst 'fresh' but harmless after decomposition and chemical breakdown. When I harvest my mangoes, I fully immerse them for a minute or 2 in a bucket of poisonous insecticide, to kill any fruit fly larvae that might be under the skin. I'm assured that after a few days, by which time the mangoes are ripe, the insecticide residue on the skin has completely broken down and is quite harmless.

Below is an amusing comment on the selenium issue I gleaned from the net.

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Unfortunately, when we buy a bottle of selenium toner concentrate, we are buying a soluble form of selenium. So the bottles of selenium toner we have on hand contain a toxic substance, although not a hugely toxic nor highly concentrated one. It does not travel through the air to poison us, although the powerful odor of ammonia could make us believe it does. That odor comes from the ammonium thiosulfate which comprises a large part of the selenium toner concentrate. (Examine the ingredients listed on the label of Kodak Rapid Selenium Toner.) Ammonia is a dangerous substance in itself, although it is also a very common household chemical. Ventilation is advised to get rid of ammonia if we are going to be closeted with it in the darkroom.

Selenium itself, in its soluble compound form in selenium toner, does not travel through the air (unless we are spraying a mist of the stuff around the darkroom!) To avoid getting it in the body, avoid drinking it and avoid contact with the bare skin. If a splash occurs and it gets on bare skin, there is no need to fear. Washing it off immediately with soap and large amounts of water suffices.

Ansel Adams is reputed to have exposed his hands to selenium toner, as well as every other darkroom substance. I would very much like to have corroboration for the intriguing darkroom myth that he left instructions for his body tissues to be analyzed after his death to provide information as to the results of his chemical exposures.

To put it in perspective, cleaning a cat litter box might expose us to more ammonia than a tray of selenium toner. If the cat box is left too long between cleanings, the biodegradation of the cat urine in the box will release a good deal of ammonia. It is not necessary to fear a cat box or a tray of selenium toner. Proper measures are easy to take: clean the box regularly and ventilate the darkroom.
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howiesmith
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« Reply #16 on: March 09, 2007, 09:19:04 PM »
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There are many substances which are toxic whilst 'fresh' but harmless after decomposition and chemical breakdown. When I harvest my mangoes, I fully immerse them for a minute or 2 in a bucket of poisonous insecticide, to kill any fruit fly larvae that might be under the skin. I'm assured that after a few days, by which time the mangoes are ripe, the insecticide residue on the skin has completely broken down and is quite harmless.

Below is an amusing comment on the selenium issue I gleaned from the net.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=105747\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Wel Ray, I'm sure you are convinced you are right.  I think you are irresponsible for posting advice to dispose of chemicals that is contrary to instructions.  All in all, I still think proper disposal is best.
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Ray
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« Reply #17 on: March 10, 2007, 08:35:22 AM »
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Wel Ray, I'm sure you are convinced you are right.  I think you are irresponsible for posting advice to dispose of chemicals that is contrary to instructions.  All in all, I still think proper disposal is best.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=105762\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Every opinion is right to the holder of the opinion, until proven wrong. I take no pleasure in being right if in fact I am wrong. I'm a rational person with an open mind. Most people with sceptic tanks are on a larger than average block of land. If it's against the law to dispose of small amounts of darkroom waste in the manner I've suggested, then I would admit to a degree of irresponsibility. However, all reports of irresponsibility of toxic waste disposal that I've come across have involved businesses that have been paid to dispose of waste in a so-called proper manner, but have failed to do so in order to save money.

I see no evidence in this thread that small amounts of darkroom waste might do irreparable damage to a small patch of land. Show me the evidence and I'll change my mind.
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howiesmith
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« Reply #18 on: March 10, 2007, 10:21:44 AM »
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Every opinion is right to the holder of the opinion, until proven wrong. I take no pleasure in being right if in fact I am wrong. I'm a rational person with an open mind. Most people with sceptic tanks are on a larger than average block of land. If it's against the law to dispose of small amounts of darkroom waste in the manner I've suggested, then I would admit to a degree of irresponsibility. However, all reports of irresponsibility of toxic waste disposal that I've come across have involved businesses that have been paid to dispose of waste in a so-called proper manner, but have failed to do so in order to save money.

I see no evidence in this thread that small amounts of darkroom waste might do irreparable damage to a small patch of land. Show me the evidence and I'll change my mind.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=105813\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Ray, the purpose of disposal instructions is to make it unnecessary to determine what is proper on a case by case basis, not to make life overly difficult for Ray.  And to protect others from Ray.  I have no idea, nor do I care, what would be proof to Ray.  I'm not Australian or Ray so I don't know how many two headed dingos constitute proof of improper dumping.  Ray will do what Ray wants to do anyway.

+++++++++++++++++++++

A quick Google check on disposing of photographic chemicals produced guidance for proper disosal.  Most notable were the State of Florida, Purdue University and Princeton University.  None said to dumo them in Ray's or anybody else's backyard.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2007, 01:43:06 PM by howiesmith » Logged
Ray
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« Reply #19 on: March 10, 2007, 06:40:50 PM »
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A quick Google check on disposing of photographic chemicals produced guidance for proper disosal.  Most notable were the State of Florida, Purdue University and Princeton University.  None said to dumo them in Ray's or anybody else's backyard.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=105843\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Instead of these vague, unhelpful statements, Howard,  show us the relevant part of the 'no doubt' long-winded document you refer to which deals with the problem being discussed in this thread.

I've provided a practical, cost effective solution which I believe would work and which lays full responsibility on the person who has created the waste. Your solution is to pass on the responsibility to someone else and hope the business operator taking your money does the right thing.

Sometimes in life you just have to use your common sense, Howard.
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