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How to Dispose of Photo and X-ray Processor Waste

Follow steps to properly dispose of photo and X-ray processing waste, including spent silver-rich fixer, developer solutions, and other processing materials.

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Dispose of spent silver-rich fixer using 1 of these 3 methods.

  • Method 1: Collect and dispose of silver-rich spent solutions as hazardous chemical waste.
  • Method 2: Have silver-rich spent solutions hauled off-site for recovery or disposal by an approved outside vendor.
  • Method 3: Silver-rich spent solutions may be treated on-site at UCSD and poured down the drain, either by a service company or by the department. If you choose an on-site method of disposal, you must do the following:
    • Contact the EH&S Environmental Management Facility, (858) 534-2753.
    • Request written acknowledgement of your treatment and disposal method (2 options are decribed below).
    • Keep the acknowledgement near the process location for review by San Diego County wastewater inspectors.
    • Select 1 of the 2 options below for on-site silver recovery and disposal.
      • Option 1: Have a service company perform recovery and drain disposal.
      • Option 2: Perform silver recovery and drain disposal yourself.
    • Make sure these requirements are met, whether using a service company (Option 1) or performing silver recovery yourself (Option 2):
      • Date all chemical recovery cartridges (CRCs) when first placed into service with a permanent marker.
      • Follow the instructions below appropriate to your equipment and the quantity of silver-rich solution generated:
        • If an average of less than 0.5 gallons per day is generated, use a single CRC with manufacturer-specified flow control to treat the silver-rich solution.
        • If an average of 0.5 to 20 gallons per day is generated, use 2 CRCs in series with manufacturer-specified flow control.
        • If an average of more than 20 gallons per day is generated, use 1 of the 2 methods below:
          1. Use an electrolytic unit, plus 2 or more CRCs with manufacturer-specified flow control.
          2. Use an electrolytic unit, plus a precipitation unit.
      • Test effluent using silver test paper at least every 3 months. Contact the EH&S Environmental Management Facility, (858) 534-2753, for more information about test paper.
      • Install fresh cartridge(s) when test paper turns black.
      • Dispose of the solution down the drain when the test paper result is less than 5 ppm.
      • Keep test results with your treatment acknowledgement available for review by county inspectors.
        • If using a service company, have tests performed every 3 months, with results provided to the department.
        • If the department performs testing, keep a log of test results, signed by the person who performs the test.

Dispose of non-hazardous spent developer solutions to the sewer.

Spent developer solutions from most photo processing units can be discharged to the sewer after it's confirmed that they are non-hazardous.

Dispose of unused developers, fixers, and other photo processing materials as hazardous chemical waste.

These items are usually hazardous waste.

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Notice: Disposal of hazardous waste using sinks, intentional evaporation, or as regular trash is against the law. Campus laboratories must abide by strict state and federal waste disposal requirements. You may be held liable for violations of applicable laws.