[Alt-photo] Dichromate Poisoing

Charles Berger fotocmb at gmail.com
Mon Oct 23 20:12:04 UTC 2017


It is distressing to learn that because you already have a large quantity
of dichromate you would continue using it  (along with your students) even
if it was banned in the US as it is in the EU.   Dichromate is a toxic
poison and proven carcinogen, and to encourage its continued use
(especially in a school setting) is both dangerous and irresponsible.

The argument that so little is used in the photo processes that it is not a
concern, lacks an understanding of the health hazards of its use.  A brief
review of  “alt “ videos on YouTube will reveal many examples of
practitioners using dichromate without gloves or the necessary ventilation
to prevent dermal contact, ingestion or vapor inhalation.

Although a Google search for Dichromate Poisoning in photography will come
up with references dating back to the early 1900’s, recent books on Carbon,
Gum and etc, lack any meaningful discussion or reference to the subject.  On
the contrary, the casual/improper use of this chemical can be seen in
photographs in the recent The Carbon Print where dichromate solutions are
prepared and used (often with bare hands) in the family kitchen.

There are compelling reasons why this chemical has been banned in the EU
and its use is the basis for the EPA’s H&S Guide for Art Department and
Schools Advisory (
https://nepis.epa.gov/Exe/ZyPDF.cgi/P1003I69.PDF?Dockey=P1003I69.PDF) that
“” it would seem advisable to avoid Historic photographic processes
altogether…(without) the strictest safety training and following very
thorough precautions and safety routines”.


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