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Thread: E6 chemicals: unhealthy for home processing?

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  1. #1

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    E6 chemicals: unhealthy for home processing?

    Hi all,

    Processing 4x5 here in Australia is expensive (approx. US $10 (ouch baby!)), so processing at home is a must. I have never processed slides before and I have heard that E6 chemicals are not safe for one's health nor for the environment.

    For B&W 4x5, I am currently using a Jobo 3006 drum, manually rotating on a Jobo roller base. I don't have a darkroom and most of my processing is done outdoors in daylight (using a changing tent for film loading).

    So questions:
    1. Can I use the same setup for E6 without the chemicals affecting my lungs? I know maintaining temperature is crucial for E6 so is processing with the 3006 possible?
    2. If I purchased a CPE-2 (or CPP-2 but maybe a bit too expensive!), would this be a healthier option in terms breathing less chemicals etc.

    FWIW, I would be processing only Fujia Provia 100 (quickloads).

    Please help.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Greg Lockrey's Avatar
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    Re: E6 chemicals: unhealthy for home processing?

    I've processed E-6 for about 35 years by hand and have suffered no ill effects to my knowledge. Just don't make a mistake and drink any of it. Using the Jobo will help with temperature control and agitation. I made up a makeshift processing station with Beseler drum base and Jobo tanks and also stainless steal tanks for smaller films. I have a temperature control valve for my water that I run into a waterbath tank to heat up the chemistry and also use that running water to do the rinsing. The most expensive single piece was the temperature control valve. The temps aren't really that tough to maintain. Just have the bath large enough to maintain temps for about an hour. Only the first couple of steps are "critical". The remaining steps aren't all that close anyway. You can get E-6 kits cheap enough to process 35 mm rolls for about $2.00.
    Greg Lockrey

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  3. #3

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    Re: E6 chemicals: unhealthy for home processing?

    Thanks Greg,

    Is the 3 step E6 process (Tetenal one-shot kits) less harmful than the 6 step process?

  4. #4
    Greg Lockrey's Avatar
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    Re: E6 chemicals: unhealthy for home processing?

    I wouldn't know that since I always used the Kodak 6 step.
    Greg Lockrey

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  5. #5

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    Re: E6 chemicals: unhealthy for home processing?

    The E-6 chemistry is no more or less harmful than b/w chemistry. Kodak (the originator of E-6) designed E-6 to be less harmful to the environment than previous color slide processes from them, and there have been further improvements over the years, such as eliminating formaldehyde from the final rinse. I have processed deep-tank E-6 since 1979 with no ill effects, and my bare hand goes into the chemistry of each step to raise and lower the rack that holds the cut-film holders.

    The only chemical that is particularly pungent to the nose, is part B of the color developer replenisher, and I would, of course, as with all chemistry you mix up, have an adequate source of ventilation.

  6. #6

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    Re: E6 chemicals: unhealthy for home processing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gene McCluney View Post
    The only chemical that is particularly pungent to the nose, is part B of the color developer replenisher, and I would, of course, as with all chemistry you mix up, have an adequate source of ventilation.
    I'm assuming I can just mix the chemistry in daylight/outdoors so there would not be a ventilation issue?

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    Re: E6 chemicals: unhealthy for home processing?

    Quote Originally Posted by kalvino67 View Post
    I'm assuming I can just mix the chemistry in daylight/outdoors so there would not be a ventilation issue?
    ....apologies niubi for hijacking your thread

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    Re: E6 chemicals: unhealthy for home processing?

    Quote Originally Posted by kalvino67 View Post
    I'm assuming I can just mix the chemistry in daylight/outdoors so there would not be a ventilation issue?
    You bet, no part of the chemistry is "light sensitive". Mix in whatever light you want. There is really not much odor to almost all the components. And since the Kodak E-6 chemistry is all liquid concentrates that go into water easily, there is no lengthy mixing of each chemical required, as it would be if some of the components were powders.

  9. #9

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    Re: E6 chemicals: unhealthy for home processing?

    Thanks everyone.

    I'm surprised there isn't any health issues involved with these chemicals. I have read many posts which indicated exposure to E6 chemicals was unhealthy and not great for the environment to pour the chemicals down the drain when finished.

    So, if all is ok in this regard, I suppose it's now just trying to find a way to maintain the temperature using my drum. Any inventive ideas?

  10. #10

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    Re: E6 chemicals: unhealthy for home processing?

    Quote Originally Posted by niubi View Post
    Thanks everyone.

    I'm surprised there isn't any health issues involved with these chemicals. I have read many posts which indicated exposure to E6 chemicals was unhealthy and not great for the environment to pour the chemicals down the drain when finished.

    So, if all is ok in this regard, I suppose it's now just trying to find a way to maintain the temperature using my drum. Any inventive ideas?
    There can be a health risk with any photo chemistry. I said in previous post that there is no particular specific extra danger to the use of Kodak E-6 chemistry over any other photo chemistry, and in some cases (such as Ilfochrome/Cibachrome) chemistry, the E-6 chemistry is more benign. All photo chemistry has toxic components that could be harmful to a person if taken internally. Don't drink any of them. Wash your hands when done mixing or using. Don't contaminate one chemical with another. Just use common sense darkroom practice and you will be just fine.

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