02:29AM | 06/18/05
Member Since: 05/18/02
11 lifetime posts
I'm moving to an apartment in an old Victorian house that is just being purchased by a new owner (the closing is Monday). The previous owner had built extra walls inside a room to create a darkroom. The new owner plans to turn it back into a bedroom by removing those walls so we will once again see the windows, etc. He will also remove the darkroom sink.

Yesterday I saw that a dumpster had been brought in to use in cleaning out the property and many bottled photographic chemicals had been put in it. Of course I hope that whoever will haul away the dumpster is disposing of them properly.

My question is: what can I do to make sure the apartment I am moving into is clean and doesn't have any toxic residue anywhere -- on the floors, walls, in the air.

I'm concerned for my own health and also for a potential foster child that I may have living there.

Does anyone have suggestions for how I can test and/or clean the place?




07:59AM | 06/18/05
Member Since: 07/01/03
549 lifetime posts
The chemicals used in darkrooms vary depending on the process used. Once the chemicals are disposed, the residues do not pose much hazard, although they can stain surfaces. A number of acids and alkaline liquids are used. Almost all of the chemicals are water soluble. Cleaning walls and surfaces with water, or a weak trisodium phosphate based cleaner can neutralize and clean most residues I am aware of. To be on the safe side, just wear nitrile dish gloves during cleaning, and rinse the rag often.

The chemicals in the dumpster are being disposed of improperly. If the waste disposal company sees the containers, they would certainly be withing their rights to reject the load. What usually happens is that domestic dump boxes are deposited directly to landfills without much inspection. If it concerns you, you could inquire with the owner that is disposing of the products. These materials can often be properly disposed at the local fire station (no or low cost), if they operate a haz waste drop-off service for residents. The chemicals tend to be expensive, and its unlikely the bottles are full.


05:17PM | 06/18/05
Member Since: 05/18/02
11 lifetime posts
Thanks Tom for your reassuring reply.

When I walked by there was a smell of chemicals coming from the dumpster. I only knew they were photographic because when I'd walked through the apartment I saw the darkroom with all the supplies in it. Whoever is cleaning it may have no idea of the expense of the chemicals.

It does bother me that people are careless with chemicals but sometimes I feel like taking a break from confronting (or trying to educate) and in this case I think it likely would have been for naught and might have annoyed a bunch of people...

Our city has a hazardous waste drop off day periodically at the Dept. of Public Works (e.g. July 16) so it can be hard for people to arrange disposal. In this case, rumor has it the owners are from out of town just coming in to clean up the house to sell it on Monday.

I looked up nitrile in and found an "organic cyanide containing the group CN which on hydrolysis yields an acid with elimination of ammonia" which makes me wonder what kind of gloves... I also found some nitrile exam gloves in a medical supply web site so maybe any gloves that say they aren't permeable...

Thanks again for the info.



07:18AM | 06/19/05
Member Since: 07/01/03
549 lifetime posts
Sorry about that confusion. A Nitrile glove is also known as the common dishwahing glove (Nitrile Butadiene Rubber). Its a variety of rubber glove that is more durable and less permeable than latex, and cost less than $4.00/pair. Example:
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