Printech Archives, September 1998: Photochemical Wastes and Septic Systems

Photochemical Wastes and Septic Systems

Wayne Pferdehirt (
Fri, 4 Sep 1998 17:15:15 CST

I just had a question from a hobby photographer re. disposal of
photochemical wastes in his septic system.

In developing a response I came upon a well-done Web site that
addresses this, as well as many other environmental questions.

The address is:

The following is quoted from the Kodak Web site. Any other thoughts
on this topic?


Will disposing of photographic processing solutions damage my septic
tank system?


I am an Amateur Photographer in the United States. Will disposing of
photographic processing solutions damage my septic tank system? First
of all, let's define an "amateur photographer". An amateur is someone
who engages in an activity as a pastime rather than a profession. When
you become a professional photographer and charge for your services,
you are required by law to comply with certain environmental and
workplace safety regulations. As an amateur photographer, you are not
required by United States law to follow those regulations; however, we
do recommend certain practices for safe handling and waste management.

Septic tank systems are designed and used for the disposal of domestic
waste primarily in areas where municipal sewers are unavailable.
Septic systems do not have the ability to properly treat photographic
processing solution waste. Kodak does not recommend the use of septic
systems for disposal of photographic processing chemicals because it
may affect the proper operation of the septic system. This also
includes leach fields and cesspools. Other disposal options are
available for septic system users, including household waste
collection facilities, discharge to a nearby municipal treatment
plant, or a licensed hazardous waste hauler.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and many
states have established regulations to minimize the potential of
adversely affecting sources of underground drinking water. Although
these regulations typically do not impact domestic users such as
amateur photographers, we recommend that you contact your local health
department to determine whether discharging photographic processing
effluents into your septic tank is appropriate for your location.

For more information, see KODAK Publication No. J-300, Environmental
Guidelines for Amateur Photographers. To order J-300, call Advertising
Distribution at 1-800-233-1650.

Kodak is a trademark.

Wayne P. Pferdehirt, P.E., AICP
U. of Wis., Solid & Hazardous Waste Education Center
610 Langdon Street, Room 532, Madison, WI 53703-1195
Phone: 608/265-2361 Fax: 608/262-6250



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