Mel, The best advice Paul give below is to call the local treatment plant. When we deal with areas that discharge into protected waterways like the Narragansett Bay or Wyoming's protected streams and waterways, the silver limits can be so low that even the commercial silver recovery units won't cut it. And we also run into schools that discharge to small household waste treatment plants that can't handle much and we have to plan accordingly. For example, at Smith College in N. Hampton MA, even the waste water brush and palette cleaning from acrylic paints must be collected as liquid waste.
It's really tricky since the art material manufacturers are not forthcoming about the contents of their paints and inks, art materials are exempt from federal consumer paint lead and cadmium regulations. And since I don't know the Hammond, WV local plant limits where Mel is, I wouldn't be able to say what should be done with photo fixative baths. One university EH&S person also tested the hypo clear wash from photo solution and it was over their limits.
It's the biggest nightmare I have in planning is finding out everything these people are doing and where the waste and safety issues are. They may weld, do foundry, printmake, paint, use alternative photo processes with hexacyanoferrates that all test as cyanide ion in waste, do Dutch mordant etching which involves sodium chlorate, squirrel away depleted uranium for glazes and glass, etc. Recently I've run into problems with art departments casting aluminum and grinding/polishing aluminum without realizing that the dust and fume collector systems need to be rated for these explosive dusts. Last year there was a wax burnout kiln in which the duct, hood and fan were coated with soot and recondensed wax and were one hell of a fire hazard. Then there are the individual studios where students (and sometimes faculty) often in the dark of night engage in practices that you have to see to believe.
As for having the art department's old paints go to scene painting---PLEASE don't do that. The artist's paints are going to contain all those toxic metals. You will have lead or cadmium paints flaking off sets. And the scenics will want to spray, sand, and do other things that will get the stuff airborne on occasion.
Most scenery is painted with household paints or professional scene paints which meet the federal lead/cadmium rules. Leave it that way.
In a message dated 9/5/2012 7:26:10 AM Eastern Daylight Time, psonnenfeld**At_Symbol_Here**EARTHLINK.NET writes:
Depending upon the film developing and printing process, I'd expect the photography waste to be a TC waste for silver. The pH will normally be characteristic greater then 2 and less than 12. If the waste water from your institution is discharged directly to a publicly-owned treatment plant (POTW), I would contact the POTW and inquire if they have a pre-treatment permitting system that would allow for a one-time discharge of a known quantity of photo processing liquids to the plant.
With regards to the paint waste, if the paint is still usable, but no longer meets the "shiny" or "shimmering" needs of the Art department, the Theater Arts department may find it useful for painting sets. Otherwise, consider preparing commodity packs of similar paint types for ultimate disposal.
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