Photo chemicals and Alzheimer's Dementia

Discussion in 'Darkroom Developing and Printing' started by greyworld, Feb 7, 2004.

  1. greyworld

    greyworld Guest

    Having been an amateur photographer and darkroom enthusiast for the
    last 30 years, I am also a mental health professional and I came
    across a 56y/o gentleman with a severe case of Alzheimer's
    Dementia--very tragic for one only 56y/o. In doing the history with
    his wife, she wondered if all those years in the darkroom, 30 some
    years, with B & W and color chemicals might have contributed to his
    illness. I've never heard of any link but I thought I would put this
    out to see if anyone has ever heard of any connection. Just
    greyworld, Feb 7, 2004
    1. Advertisements

  2. No we are all crazy to start with. Did he drink the chemistry?
    Or not have adequate ventilation? Maybe stick hands hands in the chemistry
    without washing them before meals,......or was he scratching you know
    what you know where, sometimes I have heard one gets a fairly good dose
    that way ya know.
    Gregory W Blank, Feb 7, 2004
    1. Advertisements

  3. greyworld

    Norman Worth Guest

    I doubt it, but I haven't looked hard either. I haven't seen any particular
    association between darkroom work and Alzheimer's in the scientific
    literature I get, and certainly elderly darkroom workers without Alzheimer's
    are common. The only chemical agent that has been associated with
    Alzheimer's disease that is commonly encountered in the darkroom is
    aluminum, which is found in hardening fixing baths. It's connection with
    Alzheimer's is controversial, and there are several more common sources in
    the environment - dust, cooking ware, food wrapping, cans, etc. In the
    body, aluminum is usually quickly converted to the oxide and excreted.
    Boranes and borohydrides are used in some color reversal developers. I
    don't know of any documented connection to Alzheimer's, but this sort of
    compound might cause (unspecified) trouble if it got across the blood-brain
    barrier. These compounds are quite exotic, however, and they are used in
    very low concentrations.
    Norman Worth, Feb 7, 2004
  4. Alzheimer's is tragic. I doubt very much that there is any
    connection with photographic chemicals. I think you will
    have to do some extensive research on the statistics of the
    occurance of Alzheimer's among photographers vs: the general
    population. You will also have to find out exactly how the
    photographers worked. Not all work directly with chemistry.
    For instance, many professional color labs use machine
    processing where the exposure to any chemical is very
    AFAIK, there are no definite pointers to a cause for
    Alzheimer's. Many past speculations have simply not held up
    under close examination. I have some interest in this
    desease having watched a good friend's mother waste away and
    eventually die of it. Its pretty difficult to explain about
    it to someone who has not had experience with an Alzheimer's
    victim. In some ways its even more horrifying than cancer.
    Richard Knoppow, Feb 7, 2004
  5. Yes I can say that it is tragic, my grandmother got it late into life
    she died at 95, basically the person is gone towards the end but the
    body remains for many years. Lingering and sometimes
    wasting away.

    I know a very vibrant artist lady of 65 that within 6 months
    nolonger was the same person. Sometimes it can work that quickly
    I believe. Seeing her,.... that made a big impression. I would never wish it
    upon anyone.

    Alzheimer's I think though is more difficult on the family,
    perhaps and cancer on the patient. My father battled cancer
    and diabetes for many years it is very painful to watch and
    I am sure to experience, even though they provide drugs
    to ease the cancer. These are lessons one must take to heart.

    as always Gb.
    Gregory W Blank, Feb 7, 2004
  6. greyworld

    dr bob Guest

    Don't know. Have had hands in contact with b&w process chemicals for 50
    years now without that problem. However how does one know for sure?
    How many out of a sample space of how many has this happened to? This sort
    of unsubstantiated urban legend certainly does not help the plight of those
    of us attempting to preserve traditional photographic methods, does it?
    Truly, dr bob.
    dr bob, Feb 7, 2004
  7. Ya gotta die from something,.....why worry , so take some precautions, like gloves
    and a fan, worrying is more detrimental than anything.
    Gregory W Blank, Feb 7, 2004
  8. Yup, I second that Bob... I have been splashing in photo chemicals for over
    50 years and it hasn't, uhh, hasn't, uhh, hasn't . . . something or

    OK, couldn't resist that... Anyway, I have Alzheimer patients in my practice
    and not a one of them has ever been in a darkroom... So, as anecdotal
    evidence I strongly doubt a causal relationship between between photo
    chemicals and Alzheimers Disease...
    Dennis O'Connor, Feb 7, 2004
  9. greyworld

    PSsquare Guest

    Since you are a health professional, I assume you are aware that there is
    also a genetic link to Alzheimer's that shows up typical in the 50's? A
    recent PBS program stated that it has a 50% probability of being inherited
    in children of those carrying the gene. So, did any prior instances show up
    in the patient's family?

    On a different track, I spent about 37 years doing engineering problem
    solving. One clear learning was that a problem can have more than one
    cause, and never to assume that just one variable causes the problem. It
    can be a combinations of two or more causes or can be several independent
    causes. It would be possibly distracting to assume that Alzheimer's has a
    single cause.


    PSsquare, Feb 7, 2004
  10. greyworld

    Ken Burns Guest

    My wife's mother died in her early 60s after about a 10-yr bout with
    Alzheimers. She spent the last couple years under full-time medical
    supervision and care in medical care facility, and eventually died from
    pneumonia. At no time in her life was she ever exposed to photo chemicals.

    Ken Burns, Feb 7, 2004
  11. greyworld

    Jorge Omar Guest

    My mother was a victim of Alzheimer.
    Slow, painful death both for her and the family.



    I have some interest in this
    Jorge Omar, Feb 7, 2004
    Richard Knoppow, Feb 8, 2004
  13. greyworld

    ? Guest

    Every mental professional is well versed in statistics and how to research
    the literature. All know that a datapoint of one is exactly that, a single
    data point. Obviously those educated at the graduate level are far more
    facile at accessing the literature; but even the someone working as a social
    worker with a only an undergraduate degree is educated on locating
    authoritative sources of information.

    How in the Hell can a "mental health professional" be so untrained, so
    uneducated as to not know how to access the literature or professional
    knowledge of his/her area? What in the world would make a "mental health
    professional" THINK a group populated by professional and amateur
    photographers would be fluent in the current medical literature related to
    dementia? Why would a "mental health professional" even think such a group
    is the best source for such information?

    Personally, I think there is a good chance this is a troll seeking to start
    another urban legend like amalgam dental fillings lead to lupus.

    I know this post is very hash, but if this guy is sincere and he is not
    trolling, he should go sue those who educated him for malpractice.

    Dewey Clark
    Ebay Sales:
    Restorations, Parts for Hamilton M21s, Products for Craftsmen
    Makers of Historic Timekeepers Ultrasonic Clock Cleaning Solution
    ?, Feb 8, 2004
  14. greyworld

    ? Guest


    I am sorry for your loss and I appreciate your post. Personally, I think
    the guy is a troll seeking to initiate another urban legend akin to those
    such as the hazards of dental fillings.

    It is either he is a troll or that he/she is using a standard other than
    that which is commonly accepted to define "mental health professional".

    Remember that 1995 New Yorker cartoon where two dogs are sitting in front of
    a computer? One dog is typing in his post and the other dog sez "The nice
    thing is that on the Internet, no one knows you are just a dog."

    Dewey Clark
    Ebay Sales:
    Restorations, Parts for Hamilton M21s, Products for Craftsmen
    Makers of Historic Timekeepers Ultrasonic Clock Cleaning Solution
    ?, Feb 8, 2004
  15. I can attest to that Grandma, hated alcohol never touched it.

    What I say to that; is grab every chance you can at happiness
    that does not involve hurting someone else, life is too short to
    do otherwise and regrets last a long time and are worthless.

    Take care
    Gregory W Blank, Feb 8, 2004
  16. greyworld

    David Starr Guest

    It's the most terrifying thing I can imagine: knowing your mind is
    going & there's nothing you can do about it.
    I've been through that as well, and it's the most draining experience
    I've ever had.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Professional Shop Rat: 14,267 days in a GM plant.
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    David Starr, Feb 8, 2004
  17. Same here. My father's bouts with Cancer, Heart Congestion and
    Emphysema were not as disturbing in comparison.
    Robert Vervoordt, MFA
    Robert Vervoordt, Feb 9, 2004
  18. greyworld

    greyworld Guest

    Sorry this post created so much controversy and hostility!
    I am a mental health professional and I was taught to ask questions
    even if it leads nowhere or leads you down the wrong path. At least
    you learn something! I am aware of the literature and there is no
    definitive cause yet discovered for Alzheimer's dementia other than to
    suggest there is a heriditary factor. The client that I alluded to
    does not appear to have any famly members that have this illness. I
    cannot interview the client because of his severe disorganzation;
    therefore as with many in his situation, much of his history and
    environmental factors will always be a mystery. My post was merly an
    attempt to see if anyone else was aquainted with any connection with
    exposure with darkroom chemicals. It was an exploritory question! I
    was never attempting to create an urban ledgend. If even if I got 10
    or 20 responses from individuals that stated darkroom workers they had
    known that contacted the disease it would only mean to me that this
    might be the start of some research. I try to follow the scientific
    method when I can. By the way most of the breakthroughs in mental
    health were by accident because of curious people.
    greyworld, Feb 9, 2004
  19. greyworld

    brian Guest

    I can see where your coming form and where your headed, and I think the guy
    who replied, was throwing some kind of fit I read your original post and I
    didnt see anything in there to merit his reaction, maybe hes had his head in
    the developer too long, lol. Please continue to be curious, thats how most
    of the things we take for granted came to be, including photography.

    brian, Feb 10, 2004
  20. greyworld

    ? Guest

    If those who educated you did not fully explain to you how the scientific
    method provides an approach to your question, I certainly cannot hope to
    teach you that here. Here is an example of the absurdity that results from
    your approach:

    Those who work in darkrooms die. This outcome seems to be unrelated to the
    number of years, frequency or duration of exposure or chemicals involved.
    It appears just stepping into a darkroom is enough to link darkroom use and

    The data you seek to start the process of getting at your question is:
    Photographers who have worked in darkrooms for 50 years: how many of you
    suffer dementia? How many possess all of your faculties? Then, and only
    then, would you have data that would enable you to begin to correlate 50
    years of darkroom exposure and mental state. This, of course, assumes you
    and your respondents have the same understanding of the term "dementia";
    which is most unlikely unless you first spell out the definition you want
    the respondents to use.

    Even these data cannot be collected via seeking self reports from this
    group. This is because those ex-darkroom workers suffering dementia are
    unlikely to be using the Internet, let alone participating in this group.

    There are two reasons I deplore what you did. First and foremost, I am
    certain there are people on this list who have already met their
    responsibility of caring for a loved one who suffered one of the forms of
    dementia. To suggest on a whim that their hobby/profession may have
    contributed to the suffering of the person they loved is nothing short of
    reprehensible. There are no data to even whisper the suggestion that they
    may be guilty for the suffering of the person they cared for. And if you
    fail to comprehend that people DO make these connections, then your claim to
    being a mental health professional is most doubtful.

    The other reason is that your post gives every indication that mental health
    research is little more than casting about in the wind for creating links
    between causation and outcome. Many of the statistical methods now used
    (autocorrelation, multiple regression, factor analysis, analysis of
    variance) were invented by those doing research in the behavioral sciences.
    What we think we know and what we hope to know is and will be a result of a
    disciplined approach to dissecting complex relationships among defined
    variables and outcomes.

    I cannot conceive of an educated mental health professional being unaware of
    the implications of such behavior.

    Dewey Clark
    Ebay Sales:
    Restorations, Parts for Hamilton M21s, Products for Craftsmen
    Makers of Historic Timekeepers Ultrasonic Clock Cleaning Solution
    ?, Feb 10, 2004
    1. Advertisements

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.