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Silver Recovery Units

While digital image production and processing is becoming the norm for photography, many Columbia University labs and dental clinics continue to use film and wet chemistry methods for processing film.  One of the by-products of photo-processing activities is silver-halide, which is used on film and on some photographic papers.  Since waste generated in the processing of images/photos contains silver, a toxic, heavy metal regulated by the USEPA, NYSDEC and NYCDEP, all waste from these activities must be collected and/or filtered in accordance with federal, state, and local regulation.   This includes both effluent from photo-processing equipment and films.  All image/photo processing equipment utilizing “wet chemistry” methods (e.g., fixer and developer) must be outfitted with equipment to recover silver halide from the wastewater effluent prior to discharge into the New York City Public Sewer System, as required by RCNY Title 15 Chapter 19-03 and Chapter 19-07. 

EH&S manages the installation and quarterly service of silver recovery units in all wet chemistry darkrooms.  Additionally, EH&S manages the collection and recycling of all unused and processed films.  More information regarding silver recovery information at Columbia University and CODM is available through EH&S.