General health and safety advice

This section provides advice to our customers on the safe handling, use and storage of our photochemical solutions, best practice for waste disposal and specific advice to women who are pregnant or breastfeeding a child.

If you are looking for information on the chemical safety of HARMAN photochemistry solutions, please refer to the Safety Data Sheets (known as SDS or MSDS)

24 HOUR OHES emergency line for advice on chemical incidents

Safe working practices

It is essential, and not difficult, to work safely with processing chemicals. The advice given here on safe working practices is aimed at all users.

Photographic chemicals are not hazardous when used correctly and when basic rules of common sense are observed. Do not eat, drink, or smoke in areas where chemicals are handled or used. Keep all photo processing chemicals out of reach of children and animals. For your safety use suitable gloves and face or eye protection when handling or mixing chemicals. Tongs should be used for agitating prints during processing and for transfer between dishes or trays. Lab coats protect against contamination of clothing and skin.

Always follow the health and safety instructions on the packaging. Ensure darkroom areas are well ventilated. Observe good hygiene precautions, wash your hands well and clean up equipment and working areas thoroughly after use.

Waste disposal for photographic products

Domestic users

The following details relate to the UK. Users in other countries need to investigate their own national and local arrangements for dealing with domestic chemical wastes.

UK local authorities should have arrangements for receiving small quantities of used or unwanted chemical wastes (such as paint, cleaning agents, bleach, weed killer, etc.) at Household Waste and Recycling Centres. There is usually a “chemical cupboard” in which chemicals are to be left. Processing chemicals can be left there. Chemicals should be bottled separately and appropriately labelled. A few authorities have arrangements for collecting such chemicals on request. Domestic users should investigate the arrangements applicable to their local area.

If such disposal routes are not available, small amounts of used chemicals should be flushed down the drain with plenty of water. Do not mix chemicals for disposal. It is inadvisable to dispose of used photographic chemicals into a septic tank because this may compromise its effectiveness. Small quantities of scrap film and paper should be treated as normal household waste.

Business and Trade users

Used or unwanted processing chemicals and scrap film and paper should be disposed of through a licenced waste disposal operator. (Recovery of silver from used fixer, film and paper is a key part of the waste treatment process.)

Different waste chemicals should not be mixed; they should be kept in separate containers and appropriately labelled.

Pregnant and Breast Feeding Women

Pregnant and breastfeeding women can work safely with HARMAN photochemical products in a darkroom or photolab, provided suitable control measures are put in place - good working practices, adequate ventilation, and the use of appropriate PPE (such as gloves, lab coat and safety glasses). It is always good practice to carry out a specific risk assessment for an expectant mother, or mother returning to work while breastfeeding, which considers the likelihood of all potential hazards that may cause harm, such as repeated or heavy lifting, working at height, working in tight situations, as well as exposure to chemicals, and identifies any changes to working practices or conditions that may be required.

No chemicals come without risk, in fact, many household cleaning agents (e.g. washing up liquid) are classified as irritants. Photochems are no different.The product label and the safety data sheet will indicate the hazards.

ILFORD Photo products don't contain chemicals that are classified as causing harm to breastfed babies. Some photochemicals contain ingredients that may cause harm to an unborn child. Standard control measures listed above completely prevent this. The key is to avoid direct contact by using the PPE listed above.

Your family and pets

Processing chemicals, like all chemical products, should be regarded as potentially harmful to both members of your family and your pets. Therefore, you should make it extremely difficult or impossible for children and pets to get hold of photochemical solutions and powders.

HARMAN photographic processing chemicals should be used according to the instructions. Any risks to health associated with these chemicals will be adequately controlled, providing that common sense working methods and standards of hygiene are observed.