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Safety in a darkroom is principally about handling chemicals in ways which help to avoid injury. However, other hazards include those presented by the proximity of liquids and electrical equipment, and moving around and working in darkness or poor light. The advice that follows cannot be comprehensive and must therefore be regarded as incomplete. Those embarking on potentially hazardous activities in a darkroom should seek and observe appropriate professional safety advice. The following guidelines are recommended:

  • Seek and observe appropriate professional and local safety advice before beginning work in a darkroom;
  • Some chemicals may be hazardous or may, for example, damage the eyes or irritate the skin (dermatitis) - always observe manufacturers' instructions. People who suffer from any type of skin disease, or respiratory or allergic conditions such as asthma, should be particularly careful and obtain appropriate medical advice.
  • In the event of chemicals coming into contact with the skin, the affected area should be washed immediately in cold running water. Alternatively, use a neutral hand cleanser such as Neutrogena.
  • Particular care should be taken with undiluted chemicals.
  • When chemicals come in contact with an eye, repeated washing in cold water is usually appropriate. The person concerned should be taken to hospital without delay, and the doctor should be informed of the name of the chemical involved.
  • Chemicals may cause staining on clothes - this may appear only when the clothing is washed.
  • Aprons and protective gloves may be used to reduce contact with chemicals.
  • Use tongs when developing prints in trays.
  • Spilt chemicals should be cleaned up as soon as possible.
  • Never take food or drink into a darkroom as it may become contaminated.
  • Do not touch electrical equipment with wet hands.
  • Equipment and electrical cables should be kept off the floor wherever possible to avoid tripping in the dark environment.
  • Dispose of chemicals in a way which does not put at risk people , drainage systems or the environment.
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