Septic & well water

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LeicaLew25
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Septic & well water

Post by LeicaLew25 » Mon May 21, 2018 7:08 am

My home uses our on site septic system and our own well water. I need to keep a extremely, very low toxic profile for my b&w processing. Help please!!

-Lew

tim.bowman
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Re: Septic & well water

Post by tim.bowman » Mon May 21, 2018 1:08 pm

I live in Winston-Salem, NC and our county runs a center for disposing of hazardous waste (http://www.cityofws.org/departments/uti ... e-disposal). They take my Cookbook chemistry as long as I give them a copy of the formula so they know what's in it. Maybe your local government does something similar?

LeicaLew25
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Re: Septic & well water

Post by LeicaLew25 » Mon May 21, 2018 2:13 pm

We do that 1x year. What about gallons & gallons of effluent from washing?

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sanchell
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Re: Septic & well water

Post by sanchell » Mon May 21, 2018 6:36 pm

From the Darkroom Cookbook, 4th Ed.

Septic Systems
There is very little written about darkroom chemicals and septic systems. Fortunately, Kodak did a lot of research on this subject, even though it is not always easy to find.

Most chemicals for the black and white darkroom are organic and photo grade quality. They have little or no impact on the microorganisms in a septic system. In fact, many solutions used in the darkroom can be used to fertilize plants, including most developers and fixers.

According to Kodak(1) a correctly designed septic tank for a family of four should be able to handle between thirteen to twenty gallons of photographic-processing waste and wash water per day. The primary precaution you need to take is not to release processing waste solutions all at once, as in dumping a gallon of used fixer down the drain (this does not apply to wash water). In this case, parcel out the fixer a liter at a time, followed by a brief water rinse. If you dispose of one liter per hour, or each time you return to the darkroom after an extended break, there should be no problem.

What you need to know is that silver is present in significant quantities in processing waste, primarily fixer. And while free silver ions are toxic to microorganisms, it is primarily present as silver thiosulfate, which is not toxic. If you are concerned about the presence of silver in your septic system you can use a variety of means to recover it from the fixer.

Chemicals that should be avoided are the ones most caustic, such as sodium hydroxide, a constituent of Dran-O, and those most acidic, such as sulfuric and hydrochloric acid. Basically, anything at either end of the pH scale. Chemicals such as mercuric chloride should likewise be avoided. Fortunately, there are very few formulas that require these toxic chemicals and even less reason to use them in most modern darkrooms.
Other chemicals that should be avoided are sodium and potassium dichromate, which are also hazardous to the bacteria in septic systems. If you must use a dichromate (e.g., for gum printing; chromium intensifier; tray cleaning solutions), you can limit the effect on the system by adding sulfite or thiosulfate. Any alkaline material (including sanitary waste) can be added to neutralize the acidity and precipitate the chromium. You can combine these steps by diluting the dichromate solution with alkaline fixer. After neutralizing the dichromate allow the solid chromium compound to settle and finally filter it out before disposing of the solution.

(1) The Kodak Workshop Series: Building a Home Darkroom. Written for Kodak by Ray Miller; New York: Eastman Kodak Company, 1981. Kodak Publication No. KW-14.
Do it in the Dark,

Steve Anchell

LeicaLew25
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Re: Septic & well water

Post by LeicaLew25 » Fri May 25, 2018 4:38 am

Very nice. Thanks, Steve. This info addresses the health of the septic, but not the effect of the effluent on ground/well water. Any ideas about that? My guess is that human waste is more toxic than dilute photo chemicals, but I don't have anything concrete on this.

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sanchell
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Re: Septic & well water

Post by sanchell » Fri May 25, 2018 9:26 am

It depends on the photo chemicals. As mentioned, avoid the caustic chemicals at either end of the pH spectrum and anything with mercury. Use common sense and avoid anything that you're not sure of.

For the most part, b/w photo chemicals are photo grade versions of chemicals that are found around your house. The most common chemicals found in b/w formulas are:

Sodium sulfite is salt
Borax is laundry soap
Carbonate can be found in food
Metol is only topically toxic to skin (it is not clear if, with modern manufacturing methods if that is still true)

The single most toxic chemical in regular use is hydroquinone: it's anaerobic. That is, it takes oxygen out of the water, which is only a hazard in large quantities. BUT look at any formula and you will find that the amount of hydroquinone in a liter of working developer is trace. Literally, you could not measure the amount of HQ that you wash down the drain in a home darkroom.

Pyrogallol? Catechin? Once again, look at the amount of pyro/catechin in a working solution, that is after the stock solution has been diluted. Note that there is hardly any pyro in the stock solution and now you've diluted it to a fraction of what it was.

That leaves silver primarily from fixer, and the same is true here. If you are running a commercial lab using fifty gallons or more of fixer per month you need to properly dispose of the silver, this includes silver recovery, hazmat, etc. If you are disposing of one to two gallons of fixer per month, you would require advanced measuring devices to measure the amount in your overall waste. It's not an issue for a home darkroom, even on septic.

The final conclusion of Eastman was that the majority of b/w chemicals used in a home darkroom can be safely disposed of in a septic system.
Do it in the Dark,

Steve Anchell

LeicaLew25
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Re: Septic & well water

Post by LeicaLew25 » Fri May 25, 2018 3:11 pm

Thank you!

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darkroommike
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Re: Septic & well water

Post by darkroommike » Fri Oct 12, 2018 5:21 am

What' type of domestic water well do you have? Most houses using well water have a well casing of steel or plastic pipe that is sealed above the aquifer and below surface water. Bentonite clay or hydraulic cement were the usual sealants. [Father was a well driller.]

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