Re: darkroom without ventilation

From: amanda christie (email suppressed)
Date: Fri Dec 07 2007 - 04:55:48 PST


i agree with ben. and the book he recommended is

do not skimp on ventilation... even some of the most
'harmless' chemicals such as the stop bath can cause
respiratory disorders such as rads (respiratory
affective disorder... similar to asthma) and if you
work with harsher chemistry (colour and reversal)...
it only gets worse from there.

darkroom work is wonderful good fun, and can lead to
some amazing results... but it can also seriously
damage your body in the long term. some people work
for years with no adverse affects, while others
develop serious chronic illnesses almost
immediately... most of them respiratory and having to
do with ventilation.

ideally you should have 5 complete air exchanges per
hour... that is that all of the air from the room
should leave and be completely replaced by new fresh
air, 5 times every hour... almost no one can afford to
do that... but that is the ideal goal in darkroom
safety... and in some places the law (the laws vary
from state to state and country to country, and are
often rarely enforced).

if you want some ideas... try a fume hood (like would
be over an oven).... put the fume hood, just above
your chemical workspace but below your head... so that
the fumes are sent out of the room before they reach
your mouth and nostrils.

respirators are always a good idea... even if you do
have ventilation... i developed asthma since working
as a lab technician for years, and now i have to wear
one whenever i work with chemicals, even in well
ventilated spaces.

for a respirator, get a good quality mask that fits
your face and head well. to check the fit, put your
hand over the hole at the bottom by your mouth and
blow.... no air should come out (that hole is for out
going air, while the side cartridges only take
incoming air)... if you feel any air escaping along
your skin, cheeks, or neck... then adjust it until no
air escapes from the edges.

you will want 'organic vapours' cartridges for working
with darkroom chemicals. change them as needed...
there is no set time or usage for changing them
because it depends on the saturation of chemistry in
the air as well as your own rate of breathing... a
good rule of thumb is... as soon as you start to smell
or taste anything.... replace them... working with bad
cartridges in a respirator actually does more harm
than with no respirator at all.

to prolong their life, keep them in ziplocked bags
when you are not using them. clean the inside of the
mask with alcohol wipes between usages.

if you cannot install proper ventilation, then get a
powerful fan, and at least twice per hour, open the
door and set up the fan to blow as much air out as

although ideally you also want fresh air in, and old
air out.

that's my two cents.

ventilation is the most important part of the darkroom
in my mind... you can fudge all the rest... sinks,
running water etc.... (i've had darkrooms with home
made wooden sinks, and buckets of water when i had no
drains or running water).... yeah... you can fudge or
fake or mess with any part of the darkroom... but not
the ventilation.... that's the most important thing in
my mind... you've only got one set of lungs.... and
trust me... chemically induced asthma is not a fun
thing to have to live with... adjusting the rest of
your life around it after the fact, all because you
were a bit careless earlier in life is no good.
unfortunately i know.


take care,
and breathe well.

amanda dawn christie

--- ben d <email suppressed> wrote:

> Dan,
> Ventilation is key to safety in any darkroom space,
> even with a high quality fitted respirator. Some
> important safety basics can be found in a great
> book: Overexposure: Health Hazards in Photography By
> Susan D. Shaw, Monona Rossol. It can likely be found
> in a library near you.
> Good luck and invest in ventilation as much as you
> can afford.
> Ben
> ________________________________
> > Date: Thu, 6 Dec 2007 11:52:20 -0800
> > From: email suppressed
> > Subject: darkroom without ventilation
> > To: email suppressed
> >
> > Greetings All,
> >
> > I'm thinking about setting up a darkroom in a
> small space (8'x8') that doesn't have ANY
> ventilation. In trying to keep costs to a minnimum,
> I would like to avoid having to install anything
> unnecessary, but I also don't want to expose myself
> to fumes and whatnot. Would wearing a respirator be
> a sufficient safeguard against using chemicals in a
> space like this?
> > And if anyone has any clever ideas concerning
> ventilation I would love to hear them.
> >
> > Thanks,
> > dan
> >
> >
> For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at .
> Read what Santa`s been up to! For all the latest,
> visit!
> For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at
> <email suppressed>.

      Be smarter than spam. See how smart SpamGuard is at giving junk email the boot with the All-new Yahoo! Mail. Click on Options in Mail and switch to New Mail today or register for free at

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.