Frequently Asked Questions

How do I obtain a Safety Data Sheet (formerly Material Safety Data Sheet)?

The manufacturer provides Safety Data Sheets (SDS) at the time of initial purchase of a product and at subsequent product orders when SDSs have been significantly revised. Current SDSs can be obtained from the manufacturer's website.

How can I obtain information on old or discontinued Kodak photo chemicals?

For information on disposal of discontinued or old Kodak chemistry please refer to Disposal Guidelines for Discontinued Kodak Photographic Processing Products (PDF)

If the information you are requesting is from a company Eastman Kodak Company has sold, or is a joint venture, you may contact that company directly:

  • For old Laboratory Research Products (LRP), you may contact Fisher Chemical Company; visit their web site at for product information.
  • For old chemicals, fibers and plastics, you may contact Eastman Chemical Company; visit their web site at for product information.
  • For medical, dental, and industrial X-ray, you may contact Carestream Health, Inc; visit their web site at for product information. Although the Kodak name may be on X-ray products, Carestream is the supplier of the Safety Data Sheets.

Do I need a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for film, paper, or equipment?

Kodak photographic films, papers, and equipment do not require a Safety Data Sheet (SDS), which are only required for chemical products. Under normal conditions photographic films, papers, and equipment do not pose a physical hazard or health risk.

What can you tell me about the toxicity characteristics of KODAK Photographic Films and Papers?

Representative Kodak photographic films and papers, both processed and unprocessed, were tested based on U.S. EPA's Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP). These representative samples did not exhibit the Toxicity Characteristic (TC). In addition, these photographic films and papers do not exhibit the other hazardous waste characteristics of ignitability, corrosivity, or reactivity.

In a few cases, Kodak specialty films used in aerial photography, industrial X-ray, microscopy, and nitrate-based films may have additional disposal requirements.

As a result, most Kodak films and papers are not considered hazardous wastes based on U.S. Federal regulations and can be disposed of safely in a municipal or industrial landfill. This conclusion, however, does not preempt state or local laws and programs. Contact your state and local governments to determine if any additional disposal requirements apply.

Even though most Kodak films can be disposed of safely in a municipal or industrial landfill, your business may want to consider a more environmentally sound option.

What can I do with old film?

The majority of Kodak films and papers are not considered hazardous wastes based on U.S. Federal regulations and can be disposed of safely in a municipal or industrial landfill. This does not preempt state or local laws and programs. Contact your state and local governments to determine if any additional disposal requirements apply. In a few cases, Kodak specialty films used in aerial photography, industrial X-ray and microscopy, and nitrate-based films may have additional disposal requirements.

Does all photographic film and paper contain silver?

All unused photographic film and paper contains recoverable silver, as does processed black-and-white material. Exposed and processed color films and papers, however, contain only a dye image. In these cases, the silver has already been removed during processing and can be recovered instead from the appropriate processing solution. The amount of silver in film or paper can vary considerably depending on the type of product, whether or not it has been processed, and on the density of any silver image.

Thermal Imaging films such as recording films, duplicating films and thermal ribbons are not yet a part of any recycling program. However, they may be incinerated for energy recovery.

I understand that gelatin is an animal by-product and used in the manufacture of photographic film and paper. What controls are in place to minimize potential risks to humans, animals and the environment?

Gelatine is an animal by-product which is used by food and non food industries. One use is in the manufacture of photographic films and paper. Due to the potential health risks associated with the human consumption of gelatine, our manufacturing sites that use gelatine are required to have robust management controls to ensure that no photographic grade gelatine could be diverted into other uses. This minimizes the potential risks to humans, animals and the environment from the handling and use of gelatine in its Factories and the use of its products by consumers and customers.

For example, in order for Kodak Alaris Limited to use photographic grade gelatine, the UK Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA), a division of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has approved the site as a handling plant for animal by products. The AHVLA make an annual site visit to audit paperwork and to view the plant and approve the facility.

How do I dispose of the waste film I generate?

Photographic film waste may be generated from developed negatives, from test strips or leader film, or from process or inventory problems. Thermal Imaging films such as recording films, duplicating films and thermal ribbons are not yet a part of any recycling program. However, they may be incinerated for energy recovery.

How do you know you are keeping your product packaging to the minimum?

Companies try to minimize product packaging because of the cost of packaging materials and fees paid in countries with packaging take-back schemes. In the European Union, the European Union Packaging Directive requires conformance to "Essential Requirements" for packaging, which specify use of the least amount of packaging needed.

Packaging must serve a number of purposes, some of which may not always be obvious. As well as containing, protecting, and displaying the product, the packaging may be used to carry important information (including instructions and safety data), and may also need to meet additional criteria set by distributors and dealers. Some aspects of packaging design - generally those related to safety - are already regulated, which can place further limits on packaging design options. Our packaging, therefore, must be the best compromise between these sometimes conflicting requirements.

Use of Photochemicals

What do I need to know before I begin working with photographic processing chemicals?

Photographic processing chemicals are safe to use when potential hazards have been identified, and the solutions are handled in a safe manner. Safe handling of chemicals require that you recognize and avoid the potential hazards. Safe handling practices include wearing personal protective equipment, following procedures that minimize chemical contact, and following the instructions on chemical labels. Learning more about photographic processing chemicals reduces the possibility of illness or injury. The manufacturer provides this information in the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for each chemical product, including detailed information on the product's composition, and precautions that need to be taken to ensure safe storage, handling, use and disposal. Before working with any photographic chemical for the first time, employers should use the information provided in the SDS to assess the risks that employees may face when using the product in their workplace, and make sure that these risks are properly controlled.

What kinds of chemicals am I exposed to when using photographic processing solutions, and how do I minimize exposure?

Most photographic processing solutions are aqueous, and may be either acidic or basic in nature. Product labels contain warnings and precautionary statements to assure safe use and reduced exposure to the chemicals.

You can minimize exposure to any chemicals by following the instructions on the labels and Safety Data Sheet (SDS). SDSs display the chemical names of the solutions and potential hazards associated with their use. The warning and precautionary statements also assure safe use and reduced exposure to chemicals. Proper ventilation is also important to assure safe and comfortable indoor air environment for photographic processing areas.

How can I assess the risks of working with photoprocessing chemicals?

Make sure you have a good understanding of the hazards of the products you use.

  • Prepare a complete list of all the photographic chemicals used in the workplace, and ensure you have up-to-date Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for each one. This list must be updated each time you receive a new chemical product, and you may find it useful to give a named individual the responsibility for maintaining these important records.
  • Read the Safety Data Sheets carefully. These sheets follow a standard format, and describe the product and its properties in detail, including specific advice on how to store use and dispose of it safely. Remember that the most important information is also summarized on the product labels, which will also carry an internationally recognized symbol (pictogram) identifying the principal hazard (if any).
  • Look at how you are going to use the products in your own workplace.
  • Consider how you or your employees might be exposed to or come into contact with the chemicals from the moment you receive them, through storage, mixing and use, to recovery or final disposal.
  • Look at the possibilities for contact (getting the chemical on the skin and the eyes), ingestion (swallowing the chemical, perhaps as a contaminant of food or drink) and inhalation (breathing in mists or gases).
  • Make an estimate of how likely this is based on your actual day-to-day work practices, and don't forget to take into account the possibility of an accidental exposure occurring as a result of predictable carelessness or accident. Your employees are the experts in this area: don't be afraid to involve them in the process.
  • Use this assessment and your knowledge of the hazards of the chemicals, to consider whether there may be a risk of injury or ill-health (it's good practice to write down a short summary of this risk assessment, and you should of course repeat the process whenever you change the chemicals or the way in which you use them).
  • If you see a risk of chemical exposure, but can't measure that exposure accurately, then you may need expert help. This situation is most likely to arise where there is some risk of breathing in chemical dusts or vapors. A suitably qualified expert such as an Industrial or Occupational Hygienist will be able to make the measurements needed, and compare them with any exposure standards set by your local authorities.

How can I minimize and control the risks of working with photoprocessing chemicals?

The risks of exposure to chemicals can be controlled in two main ways: by preventing release at source, or by protecting the employee. The first is usually the best.

The risks of contact may be reduced by careful design of mixing and handling operations and by the use of mechanical aids and barriers to avoid spills and splashes. Ingestion can be avoided by following good hygiene principles. Never eat, drink, smoke or take food or drink into areas where chemicals are used, handled or stored. Always wash hands thoroughly after handling chemicals and before eating or drinking. Never store chemicals in food containers, and never keep food in containers, which have been used to hold chemicals. Never store food in containers, cupboards or refrigerators that are meant for chemical storage. Making sure that chemicals cannot get into the air of the workplace can prevent inhalation. Lids should always be fitted to chemical storage containers, and local exhaust ventilation can be used to remove mists or vapors if released, for example, during chemical mixing. Good general room ventilation will also make sure that the small quantity of volatile chemicals that may be released during photoprocessing are diluted and removed in safety.

If these simple precautions are followed, the need for personal protective equipment (PPE) can be kept to a minimum. As it is not usually possible to avoid all risks of skin and eye contact, it is recommended to wear impervious gloves, simple protective clothing, and eye protection when handling its photochemical products. Dust or vapor masks are not normally necessary, though exceptions may occur. The product Safety Data Sheet will alert users to the possible need for this extra protection.

All control measures, including PPE, must be regularly inspected and maintained to make sure they continue to do their job properly. Employees must be told of the need for any controls to reduce the risks of exposure, and given training to make sure they use the controls correctly.

What personal protective equipment (PPE) is necessary for working with photochemicals?

Protecting employees from potential harm when using equipment or in certain work situations is an important part of providing a safe workplace. While a photographic processing facility is typically considered a low hazard workplace, there are certain operations where employees need to be protected from potential hazards. An understanding of the potential sources and measures to protect employees from the hazards is an important element in the health and safety program at your facility. The use of personal protective equipment (PPE) is important whenever the possibility of contact with chemicals exists. When handling photochemical products, it is recommended that users wear safety glasses with side shields, impervious gloves (neoprene or nitrile), and wearing an apron or other protective clothing that is impervious to chemicals, which will protect the eyes, prevent contact with the skin and chemicals from coming in contact with your clothing. Dust or vapor masks are not normally necessary, though exceptions may occur. The product Safety Data Sheet will alert users to the possible need for this extra protection.

Check PPE often to make sure it is in good working condition, clean, and works and fits properly. Train employees on the use, limitations, maintenance, and how to wear PPE.

Is it safe for me to use and mix photographic processing chemicals while I am pregnant?

Kodak Alaris is not aware of substantiated reports of adverse effects among people in general working in the photoprocessing industry.

You may wish to also inform your employer so that the employer can decide whether any extra precautions may need to be taken.

What are the potential hazards of working with photographic processing chemicals during pregnancy?

We are frequently asked about the potential hazards of working with photographic processing chemicals during pregnancy. In particular, if this presents a health concern for the mother or fetus. To our knowledge, there have not been any substantiated reports of adverse reproductive effects among people working with KODAK photoprocessing products.

All users are encouraged to follow the handling instructions on the product labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) and to follow applicable country-specific regulations concerning potential occupational exposures during pregnancy. In addition, if you are pregnant, you should also provide your physician/doctor with this information. A general recommendation is minimise skin, eye, and inhalation exposure by using good industrial hygiene practices. These include the use of gloves or tongs (for use in tray processing), goggles or other eye protection, rubber aprons or other suitable protective clothing and working in a well-ventilated area. Unless otherwise stated on the MSDS, good industrial strength neoprene rubber or nitrile gloves should be used whenever there is a potential for skin contact.

There are no chemicals in any Kodak photoprocessing product associated with adverse reproductive effects in humans. There are a limited number of Kodak photochemical products that contain a minor component that has been associated with reproductive toxicity in animals through feeding studies. Ingestion, the route of exposure in these laboratory studies, is not an expected route of exposure for humans working with these photoprocessing chemicals. For these products, information regarding the potential health hazards, in addition to safe handling guidance, can be found on the product label and SDS. There is no evidence that any component of, or emission from, a Kodak photoprocessing chemical causes reproductive effects in animals or humans by skin contact or through inhalation.

Typical airborne emissions from Kodak photographic processing solutions can include irritating gasses such as sulphur dioxide, ammonia, and acetic acid. Since these chemicals may have unpleasant odours, they can be detected at low concentrations in the air. The ability to detect a chemical by odour does not mean that it is present at a concentration that will cause an adverse health effect. However, if room ventilation is not adequate, the vapours may cause transient headache, nausea, or eye, nose, and throat irritation. Typically, the symptoms will clear when the person is away from the exposure for a day or two and reappear when the person is exposed again.

How do I know if my facility has adequate ventilation?

Effective ventilation systems are an important tool that helps minimize employee exposure to photographic processing chemicals. While photographic processing facilities are typically considered to be a low hazard workplace, indoor air quality environments can be improved if well-engineered ventilation systems are installed. Potential air contaminants associated with photographic processing operations will be determined by the specific process chemistry and the operating conditions of the equipment. Some photographic processing solutions release small amounts of vapors such as acetic acid or gases such as ammonia or sulfur dioxide. Depending on the concentration in the air, these chemicals could be irritating to the eyes and respiratory tract or create odors. Although odor does not indicate safe versus unsafe conditions, strong odors or the presence of eye and/or respiratory irritation can indicate that there is not sufficient general dilution ventilation or that the local exhaust systems may not be capturing the air contaminants effectively at their source

Storage of Photochemicals

How should I store my photographic processing chemicals?

To ensure safe storage of chemicals:

  • Keep containers easily accessible – Store photographic processing containers in designated areas, preferably away from heavy traffic, where they are easily accessible and the contents readily identifiable and inventoried. Store the heaviest and most hazardous chemicals at the lower level. Keep out of reach of children.
  • Do not remove chemical labels – Chemical labels provide the proper name, appropriate hazard warnings, and precautionary measures, where applicable.
  • Use the proper containers – Store photographic processing concentrates in their original containers. Do not transfer chemicals into any other container.
  • Keep corrosive materials separated – Store corrosive materials away from materials with which they may react, and away from incompatible materials. Read the SDS to find out which products may be stored together, and which are best stored apart.

Generally, unmixed chemical concentrates should be stored at temperatures between 5° and 30°C (40° to 86° F), in dry conditions, away from sunlight or direct sources of heat, and away from food.

How you store chemical concentrates and solutions may affect the activity of processing solutions. For the most up-to-date source of information on mixing and storing chemicals, see the instructions packaged with the chemicals.

Disposal of Photochemicals


Can I dispose of photographic processing solutions to my septic system?

The use of septic systems for disposal of photographic processing solutions is not recommended because the disposal of photographic processing solutions may affect the proper operations of the septic system. Septic systems are used for the disposal of domestic waste, primarily in areas where municipal sewers are unavailable.

If you are disposing to a septic system, check with your local authorities. It may be a better to manage your photographic effluent off-site.

How do I find out what my local discharge limits/sewer codes and requirements are?

To determine what the discharge limits established by your local treatment authority are, you will need to contact them directly. Your photographic processing effluents should generally be within discharge limit requirements, once silver recovery has taken place. Do not discharge your fixer, bleach-fix, and stabilizer solutions without silver recovery because their silver content will most likely exceed discharge limits for silver.

Do I need consent to discharge my photographic processing effluent?

Your need for a written consent (that is, discharge permit) depends on where your photographic processing effluent goes directly when it leaves your drains, on the volume of your discharge, and in some cases, on whether you perform silver recovery.

If your drains discharge directly to the environment, for example to a lake, stream, river, or septic system, you need a permit. If you discharge to a local treatment facility with secondary biological treatment or sewer system, check with your local treatment authority to see if you need a permit. Whatever your mode of discharge, Kodak recommends silver recovery for your silver-rich waste solutions.

What type of plumbing is suitable for photographic processing effluent?

The plumbing or pipework used in a conventional photographic processing facility should be made from chemically-resistant materials such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP). Heavy duty cast iron pipe or other cast drain materials are also satisfactory. We do not recommend copper plumbing.

Can I put photographic processing solution down the drain?

Most photographic processing effluents and wash waters contain chemicals that are biodegradable. They are, therefore, compatible with aerobic (with oxygen) biological treatment systems and are effectively treated when sent to an efficient sewage treatment facility. Permission from the local treatment authority may be needed (a written consent or permit is usually needed and limits what can and can't be discharge). Contact your local authorities to see if you need consent and to determine local discharge limits.

Avoid pouring silver-bearing effluents such as used fixers, bleach-fix or stabilizers down the drain. Instead, you should use on-site or off-site silver management.

How can I recover silver from film and/or paper?

The recovery of silver from film and paper is an operation best entrusted to a specialized waste management company. Companies already engaged in the collection and treatment of waste photo processing solutions will often take waste film and paper for recovery, as they will already have access to the technologies needed to recover and refine the silver safely and efficiently.

What types of on-site silver recovery technologies are available?

There are a variety of on-site silver recovery technologies available. Understanding the size of your operation, amount of effluent, and the silver discharge limit in your local area, will help you to determine the correct technology for your operation.

For small volume users, silver recovery using metallic replacement is recommended. These cartridges are simple to use and maintain. Used cartridges must be sent to a silver refiner for further treatment and recovery of metallic silver.

Electrolytic silver recovery is the most efficient technique for removing silver from silver-rich photographic solutions. The type of electrolytic recovery unit chosen depends on the solutions being treated and the daily volumes requiring treatment. Often, metallic replacement cartridges need to be used tailing electrolytic recovery equipment to ensure compliance with local sewer discharge limits. These units are more costly than simple metallic replacement cartridges and rather more complex to set up and operate effectively.

The removal of silver from wash waters requires still more sophisticated technology such as ion exchange, nanofiltration or reverse osmosis. These techniques are usually only justified in order to meet strict local regulations.

Also, there is the chemical precipitation technique which produces very low silver concentrations in the effluent going to the sewer. Semi-automatic and customized equipment for automated precipitation are used to facilitate the process.

Whatever the technique used for silver recovery, it can provide an economic benefit and enable compliance with local discharge regulations. If on-site silver recovery is not done, the owner/operator must send silver-rich solutions off site for proper management.

Is it possible to recover the film and paper base as well?

Both types of modern film base (acetate and polyester) can be recovered, though the facilities for doing so may not exist in all locations. The economics of the recovery process, as well as the potential environmental impact, may make the transport of waste film over long distances impractical. If local recovery is not possible, de-silvered film should be disposed of by incineration with energy recovery. If suitable incineration facilities are unavailable, the waste may be disposed of to landfill without risk of adverse environmental effects.

Waste photographic paper is not generally recoverable. Most papers are coated with a very thin layer of polythene to control water absorption and speed drying, and should not therefore be mixed with other waste paper destined for conventional paper recovery. Waste photographic paper should be disposed of by incineration with energy recovery. If suitable incineration facilities are unavailable; the waste may be disposed of to landfill without risk of adverse environmental effects.

Should I recover silver from my photo processing solutions?

Silver is a valuable resource, and can easily and cost-effectively be recovered and reused. If you are discharging silver bearing waste solutions (fixer, bleach-fix, and stabilizers or wash waters) to the sewer for biological treatment, you will almost certainly have to recover silver to keep within the discharge limits imposed by your local authority.

Silver recovery, the process used to harvest the silver from photographic processing solutions, can be done in several ways, depending on the size of your operation, the concentration of silver in your effluent, and the silver discharge limits in your local area. Not only does silver recovery allow laboratories to keep in compliance with discharge regulations, but promotes the sustainability of non-renewable natural resources.

If the size of your photo-processing operation makes on-site recovery impractical, then silver-containing solutions can be collected and shipped to an off-site recovery facility. There are many waste management companies that specialize in silver recovery. You will be responsible for collecting and storing the waste safely, and for telling the waste management company about its hazards (if any) so that they can transport and treat it safely.

After silver recovery, how do I measure the silver content of my effluent before discharging to the sewer system?

A number of techniques are available to measure silver in photographic processing effluent, but only precise analytical results from a certified analytical laboratory, with personnel trained to perform silver analysis, should be used to demonstrate regulatory compliance.

All samples should be collected in clean, unused containers, properly labeled, and sent immediately to the chosen laboratory. You may need to request analyses for Total Recoverable Silver or Total Dissolved Silver, depending on the requirements of your local discharge regulation.

Does Kodak Alaris purchase or accept used Single Use Cameras from photo processors?

No, except as required by law in certain worldwide jurisdictions. In an effort to keep the price of film as low as possible, Kodak Alaris has taken steps to decrease our manufacturing footprint as photo industry volumes continue to decline. As a result, Kodak Alaris will no longer be able to refurbish used Single Use Cameras for reuse.

What should photo processors do with their used Single Use Cameras?

Retailers are encouraged to not discard their used Single Use Cameras into the general trash, but to seek other reuse or recycling solutions to foster environmentally sound management practices for their used Single Use Cameras. Please contact the authorities for characterization and recycling opportunities in your area.

Can I take the batteries out of single-use cameras and give them to the customer?

For safety reasons, this practice is not recommended.