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Hello,

Okay, this is officially my first time in any kind of web-chatting environment (other than e-mail of course...I'm not that analog!). Anyway, I'm a b/w enthusiast, semi-professional type from Toronto. And while I work for the forces of evil by day (I am a technical editor of digital stock photography images) I dwell in my home darkroom by night. My main interest is in b/w children's portraiture...I found this site through a link on Cheryl Jacob's site and was intrigued. I am also interested in alternative process techniques, particularly cyanotyping.

So, I'm hoping to pick the brains of people within the APUG community about b/w 35mm and possibly MF equipment and processes. I'll start with seeing if anyone has any advice about darkroom work during pregnancy. My husband and I are trying for our second child, and I have some concerns about being around chemicals while pregnant. During my last pregnancy I bought one of those Darth Vader-esque ventilation masks that painters wear, and spent very limited time in the darkroom. However I have since heard that those masks decrease the flow of oxygen to the fetus (which doesn't sound like a safe thing)...does anyone have any other recommendations for pregnancy precautions? I would definitely appreciate hearing input on the subject. I don't want to give up my darkroom for another 9 months!

Thanks!

-Sherrie
 

Flotsam

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Welcom Sherrie,

This is a great place to do some brain-pickin'. Whatever interests you in analog photography, there seems to somebody here that has done it, is doing it, or is interested in learning to do it too.

Looking forward to your posts.
 
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Thank you! I just realized that I spelled Cheryl's name wrong in my little blurb...so if you read this, sorry Cheryl! I hate it when people spell my name wrong, but then again with a name like Kuehlein, it happens fairly often!
 

Sean

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Welcome :smile:

Not sure about the darkroom thing, maybe research with chems are the most gentle then work your process around those chems, also maybe have someone else mix the chem and have a very robust vent system in the darkroom to keep the air clean, etc..
 

Aggie

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Hi Sherrie,
The fumes given off by the normal chemicals you will use in the darkroom to do the silver gelatin are not harmful to the fetus. They are no more harmful than using cleanser to scrub your sink, or vinegar in cooking. I would though use gloves or tongs when working with those chemicals. As for the respirator, you don't need it. With proper ventilation in your darkroom you will be fine. As for experimenting with other chemicals and alt.processes, read the warnings that come with that chemical. As for chemicals to avoid while pregnant do not ingest aspertame sweetened foods. Read the side of a diet soda can and know that the PKU test done at birth is the shortened term for the long term they warn about. OK offr that soap box.

Welcome and have fun here.
 

harveyje

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The respiator is probably not necessary and the decrease in oxygen is no more than travelling to the mountains. By the way, you should avoid strenuous activity at higher elevations due to the hypoxia involved. Good ventilation should alleviate all risk from inhaled vapors. Gloves and tongs are a very good suggestion as some of the solutions can be absorbed through the skin. Using the respirator while mixing chemicals from powder form is another good idea. I have never heard of fetal problems related to the photographic darkroom, but I have not specifically researched the topic.
 

ann

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I have had several students with the same issues. One of the last was a nurse and she checked with her Dr. who was also a photographer. These are his directions for her. Be sure you wear Nitrile gloves and other than that he did not forsee a problem.

Individuals vary with how sensitive they are to chemicals and so i always recommend these students check with their doctor.

On the other hand, i will not allow a pregant woman in my toning classes; these are some of the most toxic chemicals we use and i would rather be safe than sorry. Neither would i let them take a color printing class because of the nature of the chemcials.

As has been stated, good ventilation, gloves and a stool to sit on to save the legs.
 

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Welcome Sherie!

Each of the websites for developing & fixing products (like Ilford & Kodak) have MSDSes (Material Safety Data Sheets) for the chemicals they sell. These should give you an idea of 'what's under the hood' of the chemicals (so to speak). :D

The only thing I've seen is that you should wear gloves and use tongs, and work in an area with proper ventilation. And, as Ann said, a stool... definitely a stool. Particularly from the 2nd trimester on!

I have anti-fatigue mats in my darkroom. The concrete is not too great for standing around on for hours at a time! :sad: Those mats help a lot!

Well, I think you'll really like it here! We look forward to seeing your prints in the gallery!
Jeanette
 

BWGirl

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BWGirl said:
Welcome Sherie!

Oh, Great! I just spelled your name wrong! Dang! Sorry Sherrie!

Flog me! Flog me!:sad:
Jeanette
 

glbeas

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BWGirl said:
Oh, Great! I just spelled your name wrong! Dang! Sorry Sherrie!

Flog me! Flog me!:sad:
Jeanette
Ribbet! Ribbet! Did I get that right?
Oh you said FLOG! Let me get my wet noodles from the kitchen..:tongue:
 

rogueish

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Wearing a resperator (that Darth Vader mask thingy) will NOT reduce the level of oxygen to a fetus. The trick to these is to breath at your normal level, try to avoid rapid/shallow breaths, don't over exert yourself and change your filters regularly. If you can smell/taste the chemical, your already too late in your filter change. Always remove and store the filters seperate from the mask in their own bag. Is it a full face or only half face (just covers the nose and mouth)? If your mixing powders and are worried about breathing the dust, you could potentially absorbe it through the eyes as well. If your not dealling with powder, the mask could be considered overkill. It will however (with the right filters of course) prevent 99.999% of ANY chemical that is airborn (dust, fumes). I wear these as a semi-regular part of my job. And yes they really suck :wink: when the humidity goes over 60% and temp. starts to climb. I agree with Ann when she says "stay away from toning" and no mixing powders.
Unless you really want to be a Sith Lord and use the Force. Actually, that would be handy for mixing... :cool:
 
OP
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Thanks!

A big thank you to everyone who responded with baby-safe darkroom advice for me. I do indeed have a ventilation system already in place and from the sounds of what you've all been telling me, using that plus the avoidance of any serious or powdered chemicals will do the trick. My husband has already made me promise to avoid cyanotyping in the presence of young (or unborn!) children.

I'm very much enjoying wandering around this site, there is so much info buried in here and I really like the concept of the galleries. I'll try to get around to posting some worthy images there soon.

-Sherrie
 

Ole

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Sherrie, I wouldn't worry about cyanotype. Those chemicals are among the safest you can use in a darkroom - or out of one! In fact I would recommend cyanotype to anyone worried about darkroom toxicity.

Ammonium ferricitrate is used among other things as a dietary supplement, e.g. for pregnant women with low blood iron.

Potassium hexacyanoferrate (see? It looks safer under the correct name!) is a very stron binding agent for all kinds of metal ions, and is used to soak up harmful stuff after nuclear accidents and toxic spills.

Avoid any kind of sulfur toner, any other toner in combination with acids, and you should be safe.
 

luvmydogs

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Hi Sherrie,

Welcome! I'm relatively new too, but just thought I'd say hello as I'm also from Toronto.

I am actually 8 months pregnant and have been developing B&W film throughout the last 3 months of my pregnancy (I was too tired to do ANYTHING the first few months, let alone develop film). From what I have learned, developing B&W film is relatively safe, and as others have already mentioned, take the usual precautions (tongs, gloves, etc.). However, the jury is kinda out on printing, which I have been dying to try. I've gotten mixed opinions on whether it is safe to print or not, so I have not yet printed my own negs. I cannot wait to pop this baby so that I can finally set up my darkroom - I'm starting from scratch as I don't even have an enlarger yet.

I think the darkroom setup will be my project during my mat leave!
 

Ed Sukach

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ann said:
I have had several students with the same issues. One of the last was a nurse and she checked with her Dr. who was also a photographer. These are his directions for her. Be sure you wear Nitrile gloves and other than that he did not forsee a problem....
... Neither would i let them take a color printing class because of the nature of the chemcials.

I have all the Safety information sheets dealing with RA-4 and R3/3000 chemistry, and there is nothing that would lead me to believe that they are any more dangerous that black and white chemistry ... as a matter of fact, they appear to me to be safer.

That applies to modern chemistry ... I would be more cautious about the older EP-2 (? - was that the name of the process ..?) and especially with P3/30 Ilford/Cibachrome chemicals. THOSE are not to be trifled with.

Otherwise - good advice. Check with your M.D. - the Safety information sheets might be helpful.
 

harveyje

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As an OB/GYN I have never heard of problems with photochemicals, including those used in printing. I will admit to not having done any research on the subject, but I have been in the profession for almost 40 years.
 

Nige

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Sherrie Kuehlein said:
My husband and I are trying for our second child

I've always been amused by this terminology... sounds like a chore! lol! (my wife and I took a long time to conceive our children.. THERE IS A GOD! :smile:

So, back on topic, Welcome!
 
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