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Author Topic: Disposing of Chemicals in a Septic Tank  (Read 106174 times)
Ray
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« Reply #40 on: March 30, 2007, 10:20:25 AM »
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A quick check at Kodak's website (quote below):

"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." [emphasis added]

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=109628\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Well, thank you Howard. It is as I thought. Most of the chemicals are biodegradable. If one were to suspect that selenium might be a problem, and if one was particularly worried about it, one could have one's soil analyzed to determine the degree of selenium deficiency, then after diluting the selenium waste, one could spray it over a large area of garden and water it in well.

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I don't know whether your garden is considered an "efficient sewage treatment facility."  I still urge you do dispose of chemicals properly and responsibly.

Quite efficient I would say. There's stuff there that's breaking down and bio-degrading all the time. It's a natural and continuous process. As for disposing of chemicals responsibly, I could do no less since I'm a responsible person   .
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howiesmith
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« Reply #41 on: March 30, 2007, 11:26:58 AM »
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Biodegradable simply means "capable of decomposing rapidly under natural conditions."  Decomposing into what is the question and problem.  Usually one composts natural organic trash, like leaves, grass, garden vegitation and such.  Because these are hydrocarbons (mostly carbon, hydogen and oxygen), that's usually not a problem.  Compounds of sulphur, silver and selenium (photo chemicals) decompose into those elements or other compounds of those elements.  Elements (carban, hydrogen oxygen, sulpfur, silver, selenium and many others) are not biodegradable.

Stop bath, for instance, is acedic acid (vinegar).  You can make salad dressing from vinegar and safely eat it.  You can drink acedic acid and get burned, sick or die.

Photo chemicals also react with ecah other to produce different chemicals.

Selenium toner stinks, but it is not the selenium you are smelling.  It is other volitile compounds, likely a toxis sulphur compound gas.  Heavy metak poisoning is frequently not instantantly fatal or even noticed.  Sublethal doses over a long period can do damage.  We are familiar with W. Eugene Smith's image of a Japanese man with mercury poisoning.  I think it was a parent that was exposed.  Oh, and FTI, W. Eugene is not a relative.  (I did check on the internet and my great, great, great, grandfather was a rapist and a murderer and Australian.  However, this condition wasn't his fault because he was from England where his father didn't get enough selenium.  FYI my great, grandmother was a modest womwn traded by Australia to the USA.  They had no use for her but needed more murderers.  Australia got one plus a draft pick.

We are familiar with the story that Ansel Adams put his hands into selenium toner regularly and lived to be 80-something.  Proof selenium is good for you.  But such anecedotes are worthless eveidence.  Adams is said to have want post mortem tissue samples tested for photo chemical accumulation.  I have never seem that these were done or what the results were.  Who knows, maybe his great, great, great, grandson will be a kook that thinks seleinium might be dangerous.

The chemists at Kodak are arguable not studid or ignorant but may know what they are making and how to dispose of it better than the users, or readers of LL.  Kodak recommends sending wastes to sewage treatment plants, period.  They do not suggest composting in the garden.  Kodak does not say you can safely compost the stuff in small quantities once or so.

As for practicle mattera, it may be much cheaper and easier to cart off a quart of toner to the local sewage plant than have your soil tested for selenium and then decide how much you could add as a trace element.  It's up to you of course.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2007, 03:00:36 PM by howiesmith » Logged
Ray
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« Reply #42 on: March 30, 2007, 09:54:22 PM »
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Compounds of sulphur, silver and selenium (photo chemicals) decompose into those elements or other compounds of those elements.  Elements (carban, hydrogen oxygen, sulpfur, silver, selenium and many others) are not biodegradable.


I don't know where I might have given the impression that I'm not familiar with the Periodic Table. I understand perfectly well that elements by definition cannot be broken down or transformed into other elements, excepts by atomic fusion or atomic fission.

Most of these elements are already in the soil through natural processes, and the quantities that are in the soil will vary enormously depending on location and geology. A major health concern around the world is trace element deficiency in the diet due to the soil not containing sufficient quantities of trace elements. Even in wealthy Western countries, monoculture farming practices tend to cause the soil to become depleted of essential trace elements which are not included in the chemical fertilisers that modern farming practices rely upon. You've probably heard of the disastrous effects of iodine deficiency in countries like Bangladesh where the soil has so little naturally occurring iodine.

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Stop bath, for instance, is acedic acid (vinegar).  You can make salad dressing from vinegar and safely eat it.  You can drink acedic acid and get burned, sick or die.

Let's get things in perspective. You could also die (so I've heard from a qualified nutritionist) if you were to eat a cupful of apple seeds. That doesn't stop you eating apples, does it? Have I suggested anyone drink their waste stop bath on the grounds that it's similar to vinegar? Of course I haven't. What I've suggested is that you dilute it heavily and pour it into a compost filled pit. If you find the soil is becoming too acidic to grow things, then add a bit of lime. Every gardening novice knows that.

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Photo chemicals also react with ecah other to produce different chemicals.

Indeed! But I don't believe plants automatically take up whatever compounds are in the ground. If there's an increase in selenium, or iodine or molybdenum in the soil, then some plants will take up a greater quantity of those trace elements, but I doubt that digging potassium cyanide into the ground and growing tomatoes would result in deadly poisonous tomatoes, otherwise it would have been the plot of an Agatha Christie novel   .

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Selenium toner stinks, but it is not the selenium you are smelling.

Quite so! But I wouldn't be surprised if the odd selenium atom is carried up in those vapours. Perhaps the message here is, if you spend a lot of time in the darkroom using selenium toner, you are less likely to be suffering from selenium deficiency. In which case, give those selenium enriched tomatoes to friends who don't spend time in a darkroom   .

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The chemists at Kodak are arguable not studid or ignorant but may know what they are making and how to dispose of it better than the users, or readers of LL.  Kodak recommends sending wastes to sewage treatment plants, period.  They do not suggest composting in the garden.  Kodak does not say you can safely compost the stuff in small quantities once or so.

My method is only for sensible people. This thread is about a specific set of circumstances. Someone living away from the city centre, on a larger than average block of land, who is probably only going to continue darkroom processing for a very few years at most and who is not going to produce large quantities of waste. His local council does not have facilities for disposal of small quantities of waste.

The chemists working at Kodak are probably not agricultural chemists nor necessarily waste disposal experts. As I've mentioned before, such generalised warnings on labels are partly for legal reasons. They are not designed to be a practical and detailed guide to meet every set of circumstances.

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(I did check on the internet and my great, great, great, grandfather was a rapist and a murderer and Australian.  However, this condition wasn't his fault because he was from England where his father didn't get enough selenium.  FYI my great, grandmother was a modest womwn traded by Australia to the USA.  They had no use for her but needed more murderers.  Australia got one plus a draft pick.)

Nice story. I didn't know America contnued to accept British convicts, whether indirectly from Australia or not, after the War of Independence. They then relied upon African slaves, didn't they. Perhaps we should re-write history.  
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Monito
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« Reply #43 on: March 31, 2007, 04:32:55 PM »
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Folks, keep on topic.  It's not hard to do.

If you dispose of chemical waste (and photography chemicals count) on your property, you are required by law to disclose this fact to any buyers or heirs or giftees, in any jurisdiction that I can imagine.  This will not increase the value of the property.
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MonitoPhoto (Landscape, Architecture, Portraits: Halifax, Nova Scotia)
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« Reply #44 on: March 31, 2007, 08:46:03 PM »
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I have to agree with the last post by Monito.  There seems to be a lot of useless arguing about who is right on this board.  

It is always better to err of the side of caution. Dumping photo chemicals down the drain on a septic system has always been, and always will be a bad idea.

Another suggestion would be to check with a nearby community college or university.  If they have a photo program that is teaching wet darkroom technique, they have a way to get rid of the chemicals that are hazardous that will be in compliance with your state.  Get to know the photo faculty and see if they would let you dump your chemicals through them.

The university I'm with has a hazardous waste disposal department and requires that selenium is disposed of through them even though I am the only person on the campus who uses it and I don't even use that much of it.

Maybe it's time to make some new friends or audit a class to take advantage the school's facilities.
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Ray
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« Reply #45 on: March 31, 2007, 09:01:55 PM »
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Folks, keep on topic. It's not hard to do.

If you dispose of chemical waste (and photography chemicals count) on your property, you are required by law to disclose this fact to any buyers or heirs or giftees, in any jurisdiction that I can imagine. This will not increase the value of the property.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=109926\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

All waste is chemical. I think some of you guys have spent too long in the city and have lost touch with rural reality.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2007, 09:04:41 PM by Ray » Logged
Ray
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« Reply #46 on: March 31, 2007, 09:06:52 PM »
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Dumping photo chemicals down the drain on a septic system has always been, and always will be a bad idea.
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And not one person in this thread has suggested otherwise.
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Monito
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« Reply #47 on: April 01, 2007, 06:18:12 AM »
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All waste is chemical. I think some of you guys have spent too long in the city and have lost touch with rural reality.[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=109973\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
 That is about as true and as useful as saying that all waste is nuclear because of a trace amount of radioactive decay.
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MonitoPhoto (Landscape, Architecture, Portraits: Halifax, Nova Scotia)
Ray
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« Reply #48 on: April 01, 2007, 07:40:25 AM »
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That is about as true and as useful as saying that all waste is nuclear because of a trace amount of radioactive decay.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=110012\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


That's not quite the same, is it. All substances without exception are 100% composed of chemical compounds and elements. The issue is, how dangerous are the chemicals under discussion and how resistant are they to biodegradation?

As I mentione before, the sale of all dangerous and toxic chemicals to the public has been banned in Australia. This makes pest control difficult and expensive, because the substitute chemicals do not last long and have to be reapplied every few years. If there are any dangerous, toxic darkroom chemicals that are non-biodegradable, then I certainly would not want to have anything to do with them.

My solution for disposal of relatively small quantities of biodegradable darkroom waste is based on evidence that working in a darkroom is not particularly, or not necessarily harmful to health, although I understand that some darkroom workers after spending several hours of most days over a number of years working with darkroom chemicals, can develop health problems.

I still fail to see the logic and rationality of being concerned about the effects of diluted darkroom waste spread on the ground and well watered in, and not being concerned about exposing one's skin to, and breathing in, the fumes from such chemicals when working in the darkroom.
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Monito
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« Reply #49 on: April 01, 2007, 10:05:04 AM »
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Neighbors can take exception to improper disposal of chemicals and you might be exposed to civil tort and liability.
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MonitoPhoto (Landscape, Architecture, Portraits: Halifax, Nova Scotia)
Ray
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« Reply #50 on: April 01, 2007, 04:57:51 PM »
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Neighbors can take exception to improper disposal of chemicals and you might be exposed to civil tort and liability.
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Then don't tell them. You really are making things difficult for yourself, aren't you.

This is what you could do. Dilute one litre of darkroom waste to 10 litres of water, and with a watering can, water the roses. You might find they'll really thrive and your neighbours will praise your wonderful roses and ask you what's the secret.

But you won't tell them.  

(To avoid any quibbling about the degree of dilution, make it 1 litre of waste to 20, or 40 litres of water if you like.)
« Last Edit: April 01, 2007, 05:15:30 PM by Ray » Logged
gr82bart
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« Reply #51 on: April 01, 2007, 07:32:22 PM »
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Monito et al.,

This thread is making me laugh. If you guys are so concerned with wet darkroom chemicals, then take a look at the eco-friendly SilverGrain products found at DigitalTruth - http://www.digitaltruth.com/

Regards, Art.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2007, 07:33:35 PM by gr82bart » Logged

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Ray
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« Reply #52 on: April 01, 2007, 08:51:45 PM »
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Monito et al.,

This thread is making me laugh. If you guys are so concerned with wet darkroom chemicals, then take a look at the eco-friendly SilverGrain products found at DigitalTruth - http://www.digitaltruth.com/

Regards, Art.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=110148\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Which is why I wrote on the fifth post in this thread, "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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Jim_H_WY
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« Reply #53 on: April 02, 2007, 08:01:27 AM »
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Several things come to mind:

1.  Go ahead and run the wash water into the septic system.  The concentrations of potential "anti-septics" should be low enough to not cause problems.

2.  Save the actual chemicals for proper disposal NOT in your septic system.

Ok, how to do that?

I work for an environmental laboratory.  I also have done work for other labs in the area.  One lab supplies equipment for the local hospital to use monitoring the silver concentration in the sanitary sewer system just downstream from the hospital's  "point of entry" into the sewer system.  The equipment gathers composite samples for later analysis.

The city does not want high concentrations of silver to be disposed of into the sanitary sewer because the silver is a strong antiseptic and thus kills off the bacteria at the wastewater treatment plant.  BUT, they go by concentration so simply capturing as much silver as possible and then diluting the effluent suffices to keep the hospital out of hot water with the city.

So the point is that the regional wastewater plant will accept some of this waste as long as it meets their criteria.  So you may well be able to get their permission to just dump your collected darkroom chemicals into their system in some way.  Just ask them.

If it turns out that you cannot do that, then a very common way of reducing the cost of disposal of water-based hazardous waste is to simply allow the water component to evaporate off and then you're left with only the dry residue to dispose of.

So you could set up an evaporation system and then collect the dry residue and pay to have that properly disposed of.  And if you're lucky, it's possible that such waste would be accepted by a local landfill if you can properly identify what's in it for them.

You'd be surprised at what most landfills will accept.

I do not recommend dumping the stuff directly onto the ground because not only is it a very nasty thing to do, but you also open yourself up to potentially expensive problems anywhere down the road.  There doesn't seem to be any statute of limitations on how long you'll be liable for the cleanup of such a site.  Don't do it.

Bottom line:

Just ask the local wastewater plant and/or the landfill if they'll accept it or not.  Chances are, they'll take it if things are done properly.

Good luck

Oh, and just an anecdote:  A locally famous photography teacher died of an unusual form of Cancer here recently.  That particular cancer is associated exclusively with exposure to D-76.  Nice to know I spent my youth with my hands dunked in that stuff and breathing the fumes from it!

Jim H
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Ray
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« Reply #54 on: April 02, 2007, 08:57:10 AM »
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That's enough to persuade anyone to go digital.
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gr82bart
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« Reply #55 on: April 02, 2007, 11:04:26 AM »
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That's enough to persuade anyone to go digital.
I think that was the point of some people in this thread. Making mountains out of mole hills to make a point. Using unscientific fears to convert - nay enlighten people.

Meanwhile miles and miles of earth is being ripped up to get the precious metals required to make electronic circuitry, but we can't see that, so it must be more environmentally friendly! Not to mention the disposal of batteries, ink, etc...

Regards, Art.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2007, 11:05:44 AM by gr82bart » Logged

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Monito
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« Reply #56 on: April 13, 2007, 02:42:29 PM »
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Meanwhile miles and miles of earth is being ripped up to get the precious metals required to make electronic circuitry, but we can't see that, so it must be more environmentally friendly! Not to mention the disposal of batteries, ink, etc...[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=110246\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
The cost of a digital camera is a capital cost.  A computer, also a capital cost, is almost always used for much more than digital photographs alone.  The capital cost to the environment (one time) of ripping materials from the earth is less in the long run than the operating cost (ongoing and repeated) of ripping materials from the earth for chemical photography.  Yes, digital is more environmentally friendly.
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MonitoPhoto (Landscape, Architecture, Portraits: Halifax, Nova Scotia)
Ray
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« Reply #57 on: April 13, 2007, 09:41:14 PM »
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The cost of a digital camera is a capital cost.  A computer, also a capital cost, is almost always used for much more than digital photographs alone.  The capital cost to the environment (one time) of ripping materials from the earth is less in the long run than the operating cost (ongoing and repeated) of ripping materials from the earth for chemical photography.  Yes, digital is more environmentally friendly.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=112249\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

It's not at all easy to determine such matters; which is more environmentally friendly. I was amused to hear recently that supermarkets in the U.K are beginning to advertise a 'carbon' component to the price of imported fruit. For example, a kilogram of apples imported from Chile might be half the price of a kilogram of similar apples grown in the U.K. The idea is, if you advise people that the cheaper apples are less 'environmentally friendly' because they have to be transported across vast distances by ships which spew CO2 into the atmosphere (and you attach a figure to this), then responsible, environmentally aware consumers are more likely to buy the more expensive product. Having done so, they are slightly poorer than they could be, from the monetary point of view, but feel good that they have helped the environment.

This is a 'feel good' idea which is totally fallacious, however. It doesn't take into account such facts that the British apple picker and orchard worker probably spews CO2 into the atmosphere as he drives to work each day and, with his much higher wages than his Chilean counterpart, buys more items like computers and darkroom chemicals, TV sets and a new car every few years which all contribute to some degree of environmental destruction.

Unless you have precise details on the entire chain of production, from the mining of the basic metal ores (to build the machinery and ships) and production of all components associated with the final product, to the living standards and consumption habits of the workers involved in all facets of the production, including the ways in which the owners of such operations spend their profits, then the best general guide to the 'environmentally friendliness' of a product is its price tag.

A $100 cup of coffee is likely to be less environmentally friendly than a $2 cup of coffee.
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Monito
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« Reply #58 on: April 14, 2007, 03:38:35 AM »
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I think you are making too many assumptions about Chilean workers and their economic station in life and too many assumptions about the UK worker and their environmental awareness.

I wonder if you think any environmental concern or any effort at conservation is merited.

But of course it is easier to introduce diverting anecdotes about UK apple orchard workers than it is to address the issue of digital capital cost versus film/chemical operating costs.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2007, 03:41:51 AM by Monito » Logged

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Ray
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« Reply #59 on: April 14, 2007, 09:29:42 AM »
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But of course it is easier to introduce diverting anecdotes about UK apple orchard workers than it is to address the issue of digital capital cost versus film/chemical operating costs.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=112321\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
 

The point of the anecdote is that neither is easy. In order to make such assessments, you need vast amounts of information. However, whatever product you are talking about, the price of that product is generally a fair indication of the amount of energy already expended in its production plus a profit component that will be expended on further energy in the future. It doesn't make much difference if you are talking about apples from Chile or DSLRs from Canon. If the energy is supplied from the burning of coal and oil, as most of it is, then pollution goes into the atmosphere. It doesn't necessarily make a difference to the environmental impact if the energy was used for a capital item or not, although it seems to be the case that for the (busy) working photographer, the capital cost of a digital camera is paid for within a fairly short period of time by the savings in film, chemicals and processing costs, in which case one could argue that a digital camera is more environmentally friendly than the old-fashioned film camera.

However, I doubt this is the case for the amateur. I took around 14,000 shots with my first digital camera, the Canon D60, more photos than I had previously taken in my entire life with film cameras, yet the cost of buying and developing the 389 rolls of 36 exposure film which would have given me 14,000 shots was little more than half the cost of the camera plus flash cards.

Considering that I would never have taken 14,000 shots in that time period had I continued using film, I think it's a fair assumption that my move into digital photography has contributed to environmental degradation.
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