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someone_else
29-Jul-2020, 04:46
I know the basics of how toxic some chemicals in the collodion wet plate process are and I always wear protective gear while handling them, but one thing I haven't really been able to find out is how dangerous residue might be.

If after loading a plate I touch the camera with my gloves (which are almost certainly covered in some amount of collodion + silver nitrate) should I be worried about handling the camera afterwards without gloves? For how long?

What about the finished plates? If I observe the usual washing procedure (at least 4 minutes) and then varnish them, are they safe to handle without gloves?

Tin Can
29-Jul-2020, 04:48
Good question!

What about eye damage if we scratch an itch?

goamules
29-Jul-2020, 14:30
I know the basics of how toxic some chemicals in the collodion wet plate process are and I always wear protective gear while handling them, but one thing I haven't really been able to find out is how dangerous residue might be.

If after loading a plate I touch the camera with my gloves (which are almost certainly covered in some amount of collodion + silver nitrate) should I be worried about handling the camera afterwards without gloves? For how long?

What about the finished plates? If I observe the usual washing procedure (at least 4 minutes) and then varnish them, are they safe to handle without gloves?

What do you think is toxic in wetplates? Nothing is really. Collodion was used to bind wounds in hospitals. The salts can be simple potassium and ammonium iodides which are safe. Silver Nitrate was administered to infants at birth. Developer is iron and vinegar. It's all about as toxic as the household cleaning supplies most people have in their bathrooms. It's not like it's radioactive or anything.

Ari
29-Jul-2020, 14:37
Maybe not toxic, but silver nitrate can blind you if it gets into your eyes. Nobody wants that.
I've rubbed my eyes by accident with dried silver nitrate on them, so far no problems.
I also try to wash away the silver on my skin with fixer, but it doesn't really work well.
So I tell myself that by washing skin with fixer, I've at least "neutralized" the harmful effects of the silver.

Two23
29-Jul-2020, 16:32
Be very careful about not touching your face at all when doing wet plate, especially after handling a silvered plate. I do have to touch my camera wearing the gloves that have silver on them, and some rubs off onto the wood. I am careful to wipe it all off when I'm done. I've also waxed the wood with micro wax which seems to be protecting it. Other than that just be sure to rinse off your hands when you're done fixing. I also rinse my hands when the plate is in the stop bath, to remove any developer. I always get silver nitrate stains on my hands a often a few spots on my arms but it just wears off. When I get it on my wrist and the thin skin on my forearm it will itch if I don't wash it off quickly.


Kent in SD

Tin Can
29-Jul-2020, 17:22
as a lifelong grease monkey, I am very good at not touching my face with filthy hands

but also wash my hands every hour when working

i have/had plenty of nitrile gloves, masks of all kinds, face shields, tight coverage googles, etc years before our...

goamules
29-Jul-2020, 18:07
Yep, when I pour bleach in the laundry room, I'm careful with my eyes too. Or checking the specific gravity of car batteries. Or spraying Lysol or ant killer...or ....

If people don't know not to splash silver nitrate in their eyes, well, I guess they should read up more on doing wetplate before finding a large format forum, discovering a wetplate section, and asking an open ended question about safety. Everybody knows that. Don't touch the flame of an alcohol lamp if you use that for drying varnished plates either.

These hand wringing posts show up from time to time about wetplate. Usually from Europeans for some reason.

Ari
29-Jul-2020, 19:09
These hand wringing posts show up from time to time about wetplate. Usually from Europeans for some reason.

I'd have just gone with "ignore and move on" and not some gratuitous attack on someone's nationality.
Casting the first stone and such.

someone_else
29-Jul-2020, 23:35
What do you think is toxic in wetplates?

Silver Nitrate (https://medicine.uiowa.edu/iowaprotocols/silver-nitrate-use-and-toxicity) and Cadmium Bromide (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cadmium_bromide) are some examples.

Tin Can
30-Jul-2020, 04:26
even too much water can kill

remember the water drinking contests

know your enemy and tread softly, paraphrased from 'Sun Tzu Know thy enemy'

Oren Grad
30-Jul-2020, 07:37
Yep, when I pour bleach in the laundry room, I'm careful with my eyes too. Or checking the specific gravity of car batteries. Or spraying Lysol or ant killer...or ....

If people don't know not to splash silver nitrate in their eyes, well, I guess they should read up more on doing wetplate before finding a large format forum, discovering a wetplate section, and asking an open ended question about safety. Everybody knows that. Don't touch the flame of an alcohol lamp if you use that for drying varnished plates either.

These hand wringing posts show up from time to time about wetplate. Usually from Europeans for some reason.


I'd have just gone with "ignore and move on" and not some gratuitous attack on someone's nationality.
Casting the first stone and such.

What Ari said. Please don't go there.

And: honest questions about health risks are always appropriate and should never be treated with disdain. If it's all obvious to you and you don't have the patience to answer constructively, then leave it be and let others who are willing to be helpful have the floor.

Jim Noel
30-Jul-2020, 07:59
What do you think is toxic in wetplates? Nothing is really. Collodion was used to bind wounds in hospitals. The salts can be simple potassium and ammonium iodides which are safe. Silver Nitrate was administered to infants at birth. Developer is iron and vinegar. It's all about as toxic as the household cleaning supplies most people have in their bathrooms. It's not like it's radioactive or anything.

A very good answer. Knowledge, careful handling and common sense are the basic tools necessary to prevent personal contamination from most photo chemicals. When I began my log journey through photography Uranium was in a toner, and mercury was a common intensifier.

interneg
30-Jul-2020, 08:55
It's certain of the heavy metal salts (cadmium, lead, mercury) used in some collodion recipes that are very real potential health hazards. The cavalier attitude of wet plate practitioners towards them is something I find quite concerning - same with various alt-processes and dichromates.

ghostcount
30-Jul-2020, 11:13
I was thinking of the immortal words of Socrates, when he said, I drank what?! - Chris Knight

Tin Can
30-Jul-2020, 13:22
Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die

MAYBE


I was thinking of the immortal words of Socrates, when he said, I drank what?! - Chris Knight

goamules
30-Jul-2020, 15:23
I suppose I should have said "check the MSDS sheets on all chemicals" and been done with it. Because there are lots of different formulas that can be used, I usually assume and use the least dangerous. Some assume the worse. One person's plate formula may be toxic if you lick it, before being varnished. But I doubt touching it would migrate the amounts to be withing the ppm factors. Anyway, how would any of us know that? Anyone done some "touch testing" and then blood work lately?

Here is why I react that it's not dangerous. I don't want it being banned. It happens. In Europe, manufacturing cannot use lead in solder on circuit cards or wiring. Even though lead solder is more effective than sans lead. You get a bunch of people thinking collodion is poisonous and next thing you know you won't be allowed to do it in public spaces, you'll need a permit to do it at the home, you'll have to have a licence to purchase materials. Knee jerk reactions happen all the time.

Enough said.

interneg
30-Jul-2020, 17:14
goamules, you're the one knee-jerking here.

The European legislation about lead solder essentially covers objects/ products that could be handled/ potentially ingested by a child. That manufacturers of electronic goods have taken a CYA approach is their own choice - there are plenty of exceptions for specialist uses. The few things that are more tightly restricted are usually only because idiots have used them to cause lethal harm to people - and even then, you can be licensed to hold and use them.

And it was Kodak who pioneered removing a lot of the heavy metal nasties from their products. They have also very closely monitored the health of their workforce who work with various hazardous materials and procedures for a long time, and if highly experienced photographic engineers make very strong warnings about the hazards of Cadmium, I'll listen to them in preference.

Cadmium is well known for its long term health effects - and that you cannot treat it by chelation. It's your choice if you want to handle its salts outside of a fume hood - just as should be other people's informed choice to be potentially exposed to these reagents or not.

Like many potentially far nastier compounds, collodion wet plate can be handled safely (though I would like to see a long term toxicology study) on a routine basis, however I've seen too many people handle the process far too casually for the chemicals involved - and heard quite a number of practitioners quite blithely state that they do wet plate 'because it's less toxic than colour processes' (!)

Drew Wiley
30-Jul-2020, 18:04
Gosh Garrett - quite a number of people die or suffer permanent damage from common household cleaners every year. It happened like crazy back before skull and crossbones labeling became mandatory. There are also more subtle carcinogenic and mutagenic issues. Be forewarned, and don't complain if you start growing antlers or a third eyeball. Lots of hazmat stuff is sold on grocery store shelves. Just yesterday I saw bottles of muriatic acid on a shelf right around the corner from a stack of promo priced beer -possibly the same thing, just bottled differently! Next time you need to kill all the bacteria in the pool, maybe some raunchy beer would do fine.

Two23
30-Jul-2020, 21:15
and don't complain if you start growing antlers ...


Growing antlers would only be a hazard for you during deer season.



Kent in SD

Jason Greenberg Motamedi
30-Jul-2020, 22:00
Silver Nitrate (https://medicine.uiowa.edu/iowaprotocols/silver-nitrate-use-and-toxicity) and Cadmium Bromide (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cadmium_bromide) are some examples.

I would certainly call both chemicals toxic (as are lots of other chemicals). My quick response to concern would be that any remaining silver nitrate is fixed out of the plate and one can easily do wetplate without cadmium bromide.

someone_else
30-Jul-2020, 23:51
What about the silver nitrate that gets on the camera? Two23 was mentioning that he regularly wipes the camera afterwards. Is there any good way of cleaning the camera body to neutralize/remove the remains of silver nitrate (preferably without damaging the camera itself)?

interneg
31-Jul-2020, 04:26
or a third eyeball.

And exposure to concentrated ammonia (amongst many other things) can etch your corneas

Drew Bedo
2-Aug-2020, 06:54
I do not do wet plate photography: Full disclosure.

However, back in the mid 1980s, I worked for a small firm that was ionvolved with commercial radioactive tracers and hazardous chemicals. I have at times used a glove box (Like Homer Simpson), prepared and handled radioactive materials and decontaminated commercial work stations . . .that sort of thing. We were often clothed head to foot in Haz-Mat suits with hood and gloves, often with a filtered full face mask.

I am guessing that the hazards of wet plate prep and handling, while real, are nothing like that. I would suggest the use of double gloves though. The inner pair stay on and the outer pair are discarded frequently to avoid cross contamination. You might also consider the use of plastic sleeves or cuffs with the inner gloves taped down to them (blue painter's tape works).

Above all, develop the habit of never touching anything but the work piece while gloved-up. Always wash up when finished and discard the PPE immediately.

.

Two23
2-Aug-2020, 07:26
What about the silver nitrate that gets on the camera? Two23 was mentioning that he regularly wipes the camera afterwards. Is there any good way of cleaning the camera body to neutralize/remove the remains of silver nitrate (preferably without damaging the camera itself)?

I've been finding that simply wiping out the plate holder goes a long way to preventing problems. I do have to touch the camera when inserting & removing the holder and can get some silver on it from my fingers, but I wipe that off when done for the day. The cameras are varnished and I've added some micro wax on top of that.


Kent in SD

Jim Noel
2-Aug-2020, 09:11
good question!

What about eye damage if we scratch an itch?

don't!!!

paulbarden
2-Aug-2020, 10:36
Every single book on the subject discusses in detail which chemicals pose a risk to health of the practitioner, and how dangerous each is. I don't believe there's much to debate in this regard: some of the chemicals involved pose serious health risks if mishandled. And those last two words put it in context - the dangers lie in the user's handling of them. The silver bath can be extremely dangerous if you slop it all over the darkroom, yourself/others, and if you get it in your eyes, you can potentially damage your eyes permanently. Cadmium bromide is a commonly used salt used in many Collodion recipes. Yes, it is a known carcinogen, but the risk is in the handling of the dry powder form of the chemical. Once its mixed into collodion, it poses almost zero risk, unless you drink it. Quinn Jacobson has handled these materials for many years, and he has had blood tests done often to check for Cadmium in his bloodstream, and he reports that the tests come back negative every time. Quinn knows how to handle Cadmium bromide powder, so the risk he faces is minimal. Potassium cyanide as a fixer is potentially deadly if you mix it with an acid, but if you handle it with care and respect, its not going to harm you.

The point is: don't be sloppy and careless in how you handle your materials. That goes for any of your photo chemicals, not just wet plate materials. If you develop good habits and work cleanly and carefully, applying all precautions, then none of these chemicals is going to injure you. Worrying about handling these materials is only going to make you nervous around them, and that will actually exacerbate any potential risks.