Re: drinking in the darkroom

From: Judy Seigel ^lt;>
Date: 11/02/04-09:45:23 PM Z
Message-id: <>

On Tue, 2 Nov 2004, Christina Z. Anderson wrote:

> Nope, it was potassium bichromate. I have the article from the BJP xeroxed.
> In fact, I have quite a few articles about this xeroxed because there were a
> number of pot bi poisonings (as well as severe ulcerations from continually
> putting hands in vats of the stuff) over the span of a few years which led to
> a controversy about putting this on a "poison list". Apparently there were
> no MSDS sheets back then. :)

I was very struck in the early literature by some of the descriptions of
suffering by workers in dichromate -- in fact (in those days before the NY
Public Library had copy machines) I copied out a particularly poignant
one... A first person description of nearly a lifetime of suffering (the
lesions on the face were excised & returned, etc.) finally attributed
after many years. However, I don't *recall* mention of *drinking.* I mean
even in the dark dichromate doesn't taste like beer, does it?

> One pharmacist put pot bichromate instead of pot bicarbonate in a cough syrup
> and the person died over a period of time.

That's more feasible. We don't savor the taste of cough syrup, rather gulp
it down, avoiding taste, besides which it's nasty anyway, maybe worse than
dichromate... Also, that death was "over a period of time." Although,
maybe all those years of hands in the soup ruined the sense of taste so
they just kept drinking the orange beer? (Can you give the citation on
that? I'm curious.)

Meanwhile, I strongly third or 4th Bob's warnings about the dangers. I've
said this before but it can't be too often repeated -- Remember that some
workers could put their hands in the dichromate for a lifetime without ill
effect. But as my own allergy to turpentine proved -- one day it can be
all over and no going back. After that I wasn't sure I could use photo
chemicals, let alone dichromate -- which I have SO FAR by extreme caution.
(For instance, even the trash gets removed *immediately.*)

But it was always a struggle to convince students. The rule in the class
was gloves for EVERYTHING, even/especially in the wash water where hands
are more fully immersed for longer periods. But students would come in the
next week and say their large-format teacher said it was impossible to
develop (ie flip) film except with bare hands. There are still such macho
characters around, who, having gotten away with it themselves figure it's
safe. ("Real photographers don't wear gloves.")

> The thing that surprised me about the beer story was that the worker was
> drinking beer on the job. A nice mug of pot bi does look just like an
> he was probably pretty looped and didn't notice it until he drank
> it up.

Amstel is orange???

Received on Tue Nov 2 21:45:39 2004

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