Every darkroom which employs a wet processor or wet processing hand-trays must account for the hazardous wastes that are generated. Spent photo fixer wastes are heavily laden with silver (see explanation below), and therefore must be treated to remove the silver or collected as hazardous waste. Discharge of untreated photo chemicals to the sewer is a violation of federal, state and local law.
Digital photo processors which do not rely on chemistry do not generate hazardous wastes, and are generally preferred.
Darkrooms with Processors
Every darkroom at Boston University and Boston Medical Center in which an automatic photo processor is used must be equipped with silver recovery equipment. It is up to each research department to contract with a provider of silver recovery services to install and maintain this equipment.
Contact Environmental Health and Safety (Charles River Campus: 3-4094, Medical Campus/Boston Medical Center: 8-8830) for assistance in setting up a silver recovery system.
Darkrooms with Hand Processing Trays
Darkrooms where small amounts of hand processing occur must be equipped with a collection area for used fixer (and often rinse water) as regulated waste. Environmental Health and Safety can provide empty collection containers and arrange for pickup of full containers.
Wet Photo Waste Chemicals are used in darkrooms to produce photographic images. Use of these chemicals, however, means that darkroom operations result in the generation of chemical wastes that must be managed according to local, state and federal regulations. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) require that many chemicals be managed as “hazardous wastes”. The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) sets rules prohibiting the disposal of some chemicals to the sewer system.