chemical disposal : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread


How would one go about thoughtfully disposing of spent chemicals (dev/bleach/fixer). I understand i mix them together in the correct order to neutralize (p30 ilford) but whatdo i do with it then? take it to a minilab?

-- Phil Brammer (, June 01, 2002


How much are you disposing of? What are your local ordinances for hazardous waste disposal? Where does it eventually end up ( local resevoir, large river system, an ocean)? Does it go through a treatment facility?

I work for a local newspaper in the lith reproduction area. We run three rapid access b&w film processors. The photograpers have gone digital, so their color processors are gone. The only requirement we have is to recover the silver from the fix. The recovered silver and scrap film is sold to a recycler. We run the fix through two recovery systems to make sure to clean it up. The rest of it ends up in a major river five miles away after going through a treatment facility.

If you want to play it safe, you could pay a hazardous waste company to take it off your hands.

-- Hal (, June 01, 2002.

"local resevoir" should have said "your own septic system". If your sewage is just pumped back into the water supply resevoir, I wouldn't worry about some photo chemicals. :-(

-- Hal (, June 01, 2002.

Here's another question; Am I able to drain my chemicals into my septic system? Or will they screw with the balance in there?

-- joe freeman (, June 01, 2002.

Take the chemistry & pour it into a plastic 'jar' made from saran wrap. Tape the saran wrap inside a thin, cheap cardboard box, being sure to tape it so it will tear open easily when someone opens the box. Then go to New York or other locations where people seem to habitually steal stuff and take a ride on the subway, leaving the package invitingly open on a seat near you & then let the theives get a nice surprise when they open what they stole.

-- Dan Smith (, June 01, 2002.

This question comes up so often we need an FAQ. The only problem is there are lots of Q's and few A's

some facts:

1-There have not been any controlled, scientific studies of photochemical breakdown or safety of disposal in home septics (yes, I searched), but the internet is full of free _anecdotal_ advice that is worth what it costs you. the variable nature of septic designs, soils, maintenance, age, and condition would render such a study virtually irrelevant, which is probably why it hasnt been done

2-It is advised that no chemicals be put down home septics, but small quantities end up there anyway with no apparent ill effects

3-Many people have dumped photo chemicals in their septics with no apparent ill effects, and all present this as evidence of its safety (see #1 and #4)

4-No apparent ill effects is NOT necessarily the same thing as no ill effects

5-Most people agree that small quantities will "probably" do no harm

6-There is no way to know when a "small" quantity becomes "large". Most people will agree that a liter a month is OK, and that 2500 liters probably isnt. Somewhere in between the totally arbitrary and completely unscientific safety line is crossed

7-many people have failing septics and dont even know it. In my area, 50% of septics are failing. If your septic is failing, the question becomes much larger than "will this harm my septic" and becomes a matter of basically dumping chemicals directly in your yard

8-Many people dont know how to maintain and keep even a new septic in good condition, let alone an older one. I know people who spent $8000 on a septic, only to have it fail 5 years later due to their failure to understand how to keep it working.

In other words its a decision everyone has to make for themselves, based on too little information, all of it anecdotal. I limit myself to an occasional liter down the drain (less than once a month, when all my buckets are full) and collect most of my waste in 5 gallon buckets that I got free from a restaurant. The fix goes to hazardous waste (or try a lab near you), the rest goes to the nearest sewage treatment plant where they let me dump it right into the soup. If you do decide to dump it down the drain, you should make the effort to learn what kind of septic you have, how they work, and how to use and maintain them properly. You can order a "septic owners manual" at the U of Minnesota Extension website. u/distribution/naturalresources/DD6651.html+septic+owners+manual&hl=en

-- Wayne (, June 01, 2002.

I did a search at the and came up with with the following:

-- Saulius Eidukas (, June 01, 2002. might consider contacting a WASTE HAULER. you can dump it all in a 55 GALLON DRUM (that they will provide) and after it is just about filled up, you can have it all taken away, (about $40 USD) and RECEIVE A CHECK in the mail for the SILVER recovered from your chemistry. while some folks say it WILL NOT HARM your septic system, just the same I wouldn't eat any vegtables grown in a garden of a photographer who pours photochemistry in their septic system. HEAVY METALS ARE NOT GOOD TO INGEST happyshootin' p-dog

-- Pookie (, June 02, 2002.

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