View Full Version : PMK Pyro in the washroom?

Chris S
5-Jan-2006, 22:57
Hi, I was thinking of trying some Photographers Formulary PMK Pyro, the stuff that comes in the two liquid bottles.My plan is to also get a HP Combi-Plan tank and use inversion agitation with my 4x5 sheets.Would it be ok to use this stuff in a household bathroom and pour it down the sink?Its a very small bathroom and the ventilation is only a ceiling fan.Thanks

Scott Davis
6-Jan-2006, 07:39
You'll be fine putting it down the sink. If you are working from the pre-mixed liquid, there is little risk of inhaling the nasty parts. Just get yourself some nitrile gloves (available at almost any pharmacy/drugstore) to wear while working with the chemistry. Occasional splashes are harmless enough, but you don't want your hands soaking in the stuff.

Bruce Watson
6-Jan-2006, 07:43
Pyrogallol is reportedly quite toxic. The real danger apparently is from inhaling dust. If you have any spills that dry, you have dust. Any air movement can then create an inhalation hazard.

What's it worth to you? How much of a risk are you willing to take? Your family? Anyone using the washroom?

If you can't dedicate a room to the process (aka a darkroom), I'd rethink your choice of developer. There are other developers you can use that are arguably a lot safer for your particular circumstances, and just as effective at developing film.

This is a risk I advise against taking. But it's your life and your decision.

Jay DeFehr
6-Jan-2006, 07:59
Pyrogallol is toxic at some level of exposure. That level is far greater than anything you're likely to encounter by using a pyro developer in a bathroom, even if you're a slob and don't clean up after yourself. Too many are too quick to condemn pyrogallol as toxic and risky without actually knowing the toxicity or associated risks. Lots of household substances are toxic at some level of exposure, as are most developing agents. Has anyone ever known any photographer who was made sick by exposure to pyrogallol? If it was as toxic as many claim, surely someone in its long history would have been made sick by it. Wear gloves, don't drink it, and don't worry about it.


David A. Goldfarb
6-Jan-2006, 09:04
I do pyro, amidol, toning, and albumen printing in the dark/bathroom. If I had the space for a dedicated darkroom I'd use it, but in the Manhattan real estate market, it's not going to happen any time soon. I clean up carefully and I take normal precautions.

One positive development I've noticed in the last couple of years, is that B&H has become much better about stocking safety equipment--nitrile gloves, goggles, and respirator masks with appropriate filters.

steve simmons
6-Jan-2006, 09:11
Pyro is no more toxic than many other chemicals used in photography. With a thorough washdown you should be fine.

However, the Combi tank may not work well. I was never able to use itwith any developer and pyro is very sensitive to agitation. If you have toom for trays you might think abot tray development. The JOBO machnes also work well with pyro

steve simmons

David K.
6-Jan-2006, 10:30
"Has anyone ever known any photographer who was made sick by exposure to pyrogallol?"

Jay, in the Book Of Pyro, it mentions that many old time photographers developed Parkinsons Disease as a result of exposure to Pyro. I am quoting from memory, but it says something to the effect, that if you were to place your bare hand in solution of Pyro, you can taste it in your mouth almost instantly.

Who was sick as a result, Edward Weston for a start, and aparently there were many others.

My father died with Parkinsons, not a pleasant experience. I read the Book of Pyro, and could not justify taking that risk.

tim atherton
6-Jan-2006, 10:42
oh great...

duck and cover - time for the pyro/parkinsons war to start....

Probably just best to check the archives before adding to the exisitng debate:




and here


Aaron van de Sande
6-Jan-2006, 11:15
the "Book Of Pyro" has been found to be wrong on many many things. Maybe we should take into account that the ld50 of hydroquinone is half that of pyrogallol and has the same biological pathways, except for the fact that hyrdroquinone is unique in the way it can make you go blind.

Repeated exposure may cause corneal abnormalities including structural changes and brownish discoloration which can lead to decreased visual acuity and blindness.

David K.
6-Jan-2006, 11:18
Tim, thanks for the many references, wasn't knowingly trying to start a debate, was just pointing out that there are warnings out there from people such as Gordon Hutchins, about a product that he has considerable experience in.

I was also stating that having experienced my father's battle with Parkinsons ( he was never exposed to Pyro BTW) first hand, there is no way I personally would risk exposure to anything that might be linked to that disease.

David K.

Aaron van de Sande
6-Jan-2006, 11:23
If I believed every piece of literature I read I would never leave the house and would stay in a padded room with a glucose IV. There is not a single credible source that has implicated pyro in parkinsons. Wear gloves and enjoy photographing.

tim atherton
6-Jan-2006, 11:26
David - my comment really wasn't directed to you, but what your no doubt genuine question may elicit form the usual supects on here - without your realising it... :-)

If I recall from the many debates on here in the past - there have never been any studies on the long term effects of pyro developers and the parkinsons link is basically anecdotal. The gist being it's about as dangerous as several of the other chemicals we commonly use in the darkroom and you should practice certain levels of safety - but it's not like we are mixing anthrax or ebola virus (that should get Echelon going... can you do "no echelon/NSA" - like you can "no archive" ...) - though it's gone around so many times, I may well be mistaken

John Kasaian
6-Jan-2006, 11:53
Interesting points made. Of course just about everything is toxic at some level, but working with and disposing of photographic chemicals, I think does require greater caution than more begnign materials. To what extent photographic chemicals present bodily and enviremental dangers is something to be concerned about. Advice advocating one postion over another is to be suspect because there are agendas that we all have, pro or con.

If you're a pyro fan you have an interest in propagating the "Word."

If you're not a pyro fan for any reason, toxicity is just another reason to condemn the 'vile' stuff.

Like most arguements, both the pros and cons can be supported with logical arguement but it comes down to this: we always seem to bet on what "feels" right. IMHO you should do just that. If pyro is what you want to use, take common sense precautions, use and enjoy it. OTOH If you're worried about using it, then don't---spend your energy on printing instead of stressing over the likelyhood of poisoning yourself. My 2-cents.

6-Jan-2006, 11:59
There are many facets to toxicity and whether it is safe to pour down the sink, each reply here only gives you a tiny fraction of an answer. There is concentration, there is LD50, there is carcinogenesis, there is transmission via skin, air, ingestion, subcutaneous, potential to cause irritation and sensitivity, are you on municipal sewer, a failing septic system, or dumping your waste in the backyard etc etc etc. To get a truly informed answer you'll have to do some homework, starting with reading and understanding MSDS and their limitations.

Chris S
6-Jan-2006, 18:36
Sounds like the worrying alone could be more harmful than the chemical!