View Full Version : Philippines chemical dumping- -help?

7-Aug-2006, 02:19
Does anyone here know how to dispose their photo chemicals safely
for the environment? Please help me on this matter, and share
useful information.

I enjoy and respect Nature, and as a photographer and an artist, it
is very important to preserve Nature's beauty.

However, being a photographer, we use chemicals that can damage the
environment. This goes for digital and traditional photography.

For digital photography, the printing shops should have a safe way
of chemical disposal.

For traditional black and white photography, individual
photographers should be responsible.

Does anyone know how to dispose used chemicals safely in the

I know that abroad, they actually have government service that takes
environmentally hazardous containers and chemicals from the villages
(usual examples are house paint, insecticides, batteries, even used
black and white photo chemicals). Not all have this service, so
photographers go to local government agencies and bring their stored
used chemicals there for proper disposal. I don't know if we have a
local government agency here in the Philippines that would dispose
photo chemicals. If we can just actually bring the used chemicals
there for proper disposal...if anyone knows of such an agency, let
me know.

Please help me on this matter because I am currently printing for a
photo exhibit, and I don't want to be guilty for dumping toxic
chemicals down the drain. I currently store my exhausted developer (dektol)
in a glass jar. I don't know how to properly dump all the chemicals (developer, stop bath, fixer). I hope someone here knows how to deal with the
problem. Let me know how I can dispose the chemicals safely.

Thank you.

JW Dewdney
7-Aug-2006, 02:44
Black and white photochemicals aren't NEARLY in the same hazard category as insecticides - in fact hydroquinone (a common developer) is taken in an extremely concentrated form in the third world in pill form by many thousands of people daily. Probably the most toxic aspect of your used chemistry is the silver in your fixer. Color chemistry is far more hazardous. That being said, however, you really should contact your local authorities and find out from them. If you want to get really clever about it, you could keep the used chemicals exposed to sunlight to break them down as much as possible - so that you're left with even simpler salts. I wonder if anybody on the web has done any research on recycling photochemicals...?

7-Aug-2006, 08:06
I'll take a look for a good website on the topic for you when I get a chance ... the informatin is out there.

Here are some basics:

Like JW said, the most important thing is the silver thiosulfate in your fix. The good news is that you can remove virtually all of it, easily. Collect your exhausted fix, and then once in a while pour it into a large bucket or jar with steel wool. The finer the strands of the steel wool, the better. Mix it around, and let it sit overnight. In the morning, you'll see dark sludge at the bottom. This contains the silver that was pulled out of solution.

Save this, and you can safely dump the rest down the drain. The amount of sludge you get will be quite small. In years of doing this I only accumulated a small jar of it. Maybe a few dollars worth of very impure silver.

Other chemicals that are worrisome are ones that contain metals: silver nitrate, gold chloride, any chromium intensifier, etc. etc.. It's best to just save these and not dump them. Eventually you might find a photo lab or chemical waste plant that can take them.

Most of the other chemicals are fairly benign. However, if you have a septic tank, or if you want to be extra kind to your sewage treatment plant, there are a couple of things you can do. One is neutralize acids and bases. This is easy enough to do ... just mix used developer with used stop bath. The other is dilute it with a lot of water before dumping it. Mostly a concern if you have a septic tank, or drain pipes that might be made of iron or something else that corrodes.