Is diluted selenium toner dangerous to drink? : LUSENET : B&W Photo - Printing & Finishing : One Thread

Is diluted selenium toner dangerous to drink? And how about the smell of sulfide toner? Is it dangerous?

-- Tob (, January 26, 2000


The question is a silly one; the label of the bottle is usually the indicator of danger. Toxic chemicals diluted or not are dangerous.

-- Steve Nicholls (GL1500@CHARIOT.NET.AU), January 27, 2000.

...not if you chase it with a double shot of pyro.



-- shawn gibson (, January 27, 2000.

ps please don't take that as an invitation; pyro is DEADLY to drink even a gram of it.

...and as for sepia smell, it has never bothered me, but I know of many photogs. who hate it and one who passes out if the smell is too strong...

-- shawn gibson (, January 27, 2000.

You might survive it initially, if it is diluted, but I remember that selenium is potentially carcinogenic.

Just as a matter of curiosity: Who is the unlucky person you wish to poison? (Or, more directly: What made you post this question?)

-- Thomas Wollstein (, January 27, 2000.

Folks, there was a disturbing post in this thread that I've told the original poster to try drinking it and let us know what happens.

The individual who posted that message has been warned NEVER to post such advice, even in jest! Such posts will be deleted. Anyone who attempts to post such advice runs the risk of being reported to their ISP and local law enforcement authorities.

I'm sorry if I'm coming down heavily but telling someone to drink a known poison is serious business. Thanks for your cooperati

-- Mason Resnick (, January 27, 2000.

Never drink any photographic chemicals. If any are accidentally drunk, follow the advice given on the bottle, and seek urgent medical advice. This applies whether the chemical is diluted or not.

Yes, diluted selenium toner is dangerous to drink.

Yes, the smell of sulphide toner is dangerous. I understand it is more poisonous than cyanide. If someone passes out with the smell, they have been POISONED and medical assistance should be urgently requested.

-- Alan Gibson (, January 27, 2000.

Does posting a question as inane as this incite comical replies? Yes. Do you really take the first question seriously? If so, I'd like to know what photo chemicals taste best, and would you recommend D-76, Dektol, or a 1962 Chateau Margaux Bordeaux to be served with fish?

Delete this thread and come to your senses.

-- Tom Rand (TR.PUR@SCHOSP.ORG), January 27, 2000.

I am sorry about my question, but I'm not american or english so english is not my native language. How is right way to ask a question like this? "Is it dangerous to get seleinum toner in to your body?"

Not only because I use toner often, but also because I have children around me and thinking if I must lock away all chemicals or just tell the kids that the chemicals are dangerous. If that is enough.

-- Tob (, January 27, 2000.

Selenium is a member of the sulfur family in the periodic table of elements, which means that members of this family have similar chemical properties. Tellurium, which is below selenium in the table, is very dangerous to handle, since it can be absorbed through the skin and is very toxic. Selenium is the next member above telurium, and I suspect, since sulfur can also be absorbed, that it can also be absorbed with serious consequences. I believe that Kodak recommends using rubber gloves to handle prints that are toned in selenium. I would not handle any print that is wet with selenium toner with my bare hands, no matter what the dilution. I think that too many photographers are careless with chemicals, and this is apparent in reading some of the stuff I see here and in other photography forums!

-- Eilert Anders (, January 27, 2000.

Always read the label. On my bottle, Kodak say:

"WARNING! HARMFUL IF ABSORBED THROUGH SKIN OR SWALLOWED. Avoid prolonged or repeated contact with skin. Wask thoroughly after handling. ... In case of skin contact, immediately wash with soap and plenty of water."

-- Alan Gibson (, January 27, 2000.

If you go to the Kodak web site ( they have a searchable index of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) on all their products. These give you the ingredients of each product along with hazard warnings and potential problems.

For selenium toner, it is highly toxic when whether ingested (drinking) or even through skin contact. DO NOT GET SELENIUM TONER IN OR NEAR YOUR MOUTH. Use gloves and tongs when using selenium toner. Keep it away from children.

The smell from sepia toner can be hydrogen sulfide. The nice thing is that if you can smell it, the concentration is low enough to not be a problem. The problem is that in higher concentrations it paralyzes the nasal nerves and you cannot smell it. In those concentrations it is highly toxic. Do not use this without good ventilation. BTW the bleach portion uses a cyanide compound.

In general do not ingest any photo chemicals, avoid skin contact (many can be absorbed through the skin), only use in adequately ventilated areas, especially when mixing dry powders. During mixing operations the use of a proper respirator would be a good idea. During all operations wear gloves (nitrile gloves are best), and use tongs.

-- Terry Carraway (, January 27, 2000.

It's too bad that most of the chemicals we photographers use are dangerous and sometimes even deadly when handled improperly. Better keep the telephone number of the nearest poison emergency center posted near your telephone, too. With children, you can never be too safe. Definitely keep all your photo chemicals locked up and/or completely out of reach of any children. You want them around to see all the photos you took of them when they were young!

-- Tony Rowlett (, January 28, 2000.

...and pets, Tony; my kitten licks everything, and if I'm working with pyro at home, in the kitchen, I place old rags over the whole counter and place them in storage when done...too bad pets can't critique your work? Although who knows what all that meowing's for, maybe one of the images hanging on the wall is really not so good...

-- shawn gibson (, January 28, 2000.

Even small amounts of Selenium stay in the body if absorbed or ingested, and one of the symptoms of low-level poisoning is chronic and severe halitosis (bad breath).

So if your friends start avoiding you, and even salesmen back away from you, blame it on those nice arty prints you've been churning out recently.

What a lot of replies to a supposedly daft question!

-- Pete Andrews (, January 28, 2000.

Actually selenium does excrete over time, but not quickly. The overt sign of selenium exposure is GARLIC breath, not just halitosis. The odor is very specific.

As to the comment that it is too bad that photo chemicals are toxic, EVERYTHING is toxic, even oxygen under the right circumstances. The question is how hazardous, and that can be controlled by the user. We deal with many things daily that can cause large problems but think nothing of it, because it is common. Sometime figure out the amount of energy in a tank of gasoline in your car. Hint, 1 cup of gasoline has the same energy as a stick of dynamite, and handled incorrectly, it can release it the same short time.

-- Terry Carraway (, January 29, 2000.

Pete Andrews, the question was serious. It's just that my english isn't that good. If you learned french in school, try to say every sentence like they do in France.

Thanks for the response.

-- Tob (, January 29, 2000.

Drinking is maybe not the usual way to get some selenium in your body. Just as dangerous is to splash the toner a little on the floor or table, let it dry and inhale the dust.


-- Sakari Makela (, January 31, 2000.

Some multi-vitamins contain selenium, in very small amounts I'm sure.

-- tim brown (, January 31, 2000.

For the human body, selenium is indeed also a trace element, i.e. it can be quite beneficial to take in small, VERY small doses with your food. It seems selenium acts as a radical inhibitor. In some pills designed to protect you from the harmful effects of radicals (very active molecules that are created, e.g., through summer smog, and that are suspected to be able to change your DNA and cause cancer) selenium is used in combination with vitamins A, C and E (all of which are anti-oxidants). However, the dose makes the poison, and with selenium this seems particularly true, so that getting too much may be more harmful than getting too little.

-- Thomas Wollstein (, February 02, 2000.

I would diffenately keep all of the chemicals up and away from where your children could gain access to them. And you may want to warn your children to leave any chemicals alone if they happen to find any that you have accidentally left out.

-- lea (, March 04, 2000.

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