- Wash your hands thoroughly after getting into
contact with photo chemicals. If, for example, a print tong
accidentally ends up in a bath, I not only rinse the tong
thoroughly in running water, but also wash my hands with some
soap. This avoids residues building up on hands.
- Use gloves when handling bottles with chemicals
and preparing for printing. When emptying bottles in trays,
I wear a pair of surgical gloves to keep my hands clean.
Although a pair of general household glove will do to,
surgical gloves have the advantage of stretching to fit
your hand, giving a better tactile feeling and thus less chance
of spilling any stuff. They can be bought in large packs from
your local pharmacist. An additional benefit of surgical gloves is that they are cheap and can therefore be easily disposed
of after usage and contamination.
- Designate each tray and print tong for a specific
function and mark them accordingly. By reserving each tray
and tong for a specific chemical bath, you can avoid cross
contamination and staining caused by residues of another chemical
bath still present from a previous printing session. Mark
all the equipment clearly using permanent markers.
- Work cleanly in general. Have access chemicals
run of prints before dumping them in the next bath etc.
- Another aspect of working healthy is to have
adequate ventilation in your darkroom. Thanks to modern well
buffered solutions and environmental regulations, photo chemicals
nowadays only give off very slight amounts of hazardous or
poignant gasses. Still, the need for adequate ventilation
in a darkroom remains, not just in terms of health issues,
but also to protect your equipment. The gasses are chemically
reactive, and may effect your equipment in the long run. I
installed a bath room ventilator to overcome this. Bath room
ventilators are cheap and can be easily bought at any good
do-it-yourself shop. The only possible problematic requirement
is of course the presence of a suitable ventilation shaft.
- In terms of ventilation, darkrooms have another
issue too. Although a ventilator can suck out poignant gasses,
it requires a free inflow of air in the darkroom. However,
in terms of light safety, you will be easily tempted to seal
of your darkrooms door and possibly windows altogether, blocking
a free inflow of fresh air. I solved this by sawing a hole
in the darkrooms door and covering it up with the same things
that are used to cover up wall ventilating shafts at the outsides
of houses. Painted black, this is not enough for darkroom
safety, so I have added a light block using two pieces of
black carton in-between, while still allowing an uninterrupted
flow of fresh air into the darkroom. Of course, the expensive
solution to all this, is to install a full air-conditioning
installation, devices that are not very common in the Netherlands
for average household usage, but may be easily had in some