[Alt-photo] Dichromate Poisoning

Mark Gould siark at me.com
Thu Oct 26 12:44:39 UTC 2017

Hi Charles,

I think you have raised an interesting point. I have been practising historical photographic printing processes myself for a few years and as a beginner I found one of the most difficult topics to research in relation to these processes was safety.

Many books highlight the dangers of the chemicals used, but few if any provide comprehensive advice on the safe procedures and appropriate safety equipment to use in the preparation and use of those chemicals.

One of the most useful resources I found were YouTube videos of professional and academic chemists preparing and using various chemicals and observing how they worked.

Whilst I’m not convinced your statement that Chris’s comments imply a cavalier attitude, I do think you have raised a valuable topic of conversation.



Sent from my iPhone

> On 26 Oct 2017, at 08:12, Charles Berger via Alt-photo-process-list <alt-photo-process-list at lists.altphotolist.org> wrote:
> My post was prompted by the declaration of a highly regarded arts
> educator/author that if/when dichromate was restricted here, as it is in
> the EU, she had a sufficient supply for her and her students to continue
> using it indefinitely.
> This cavalier attitude towards the use of dichromate for the sake of
> photographic printmaking is ill advised as it implies that the dangers are
> not to be taken seriously.
> Responses ranged (with a few exceptions) from the abusive (and idiotic)
> advise not to “lick the top of Cherry wood table” to a non-sequitur
> description of the installation of seat belts in a 1956 Oldsmobile.
> The point I was making is that there is little discussion of dichromate
> poisoning and a lack of detailed information (beyond “wear gloves”) on its
> safe use in the current literature on alternative photo processes. Perhaps
> Marton was correct when he wrote about “The Dichromate Disease” in The *Photo
> Oleograph Process*(1900) that “Rich living and alcoholic stimulants, seem
> to foster this peculiar ailment”,  and thus all we need to do is avoid such
> behaviors to safely work with dichromate.
> Why are so many of you upset about discussing this? And why do you feel
> compelled to defend this lack of concern and to dismiss any in-depth
> information on the subject as “scare tactics?”
> Full disclosure:  I have recently been exploring with Chris the creation of
> a book (or series of books) describing non-toxic alternatives to historic
> photographic printmaking. Her statement caught me completely by surprise. I
> am confident that Chris is truly concerned with the health and safety of us
> all, but this dismissive attitude is unfortunate.
> Charles
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