Entries in Mercury (2)


Cadmium & Mercury: Check Your Levels!

It's been a while since I've had a complete physical. Last week, I went for the entire checkup.

I requested a heavy metals check when they took my blood. I asked them to check my cadmium levels (CdBr) and mercury (Hg) levels

After almost a decade of handling a lot of heavy metal, I wanted to get a baseline for my new life in the states with a new fume hood and improved safety features in my darkroom. 

I've always been extremely safe when I handle heavy metals. I get it, I know and understand the danger but still want to live my life and make my art. 

Long story short: my cadmium (none at all) and mercury levels are normal - no problem at all. If you work in these processes and have never had the test, I encourage you to do so. These are dangerous and deadly metals, if you've been exposing yourself and don't know it, you could have a very grim future with diseases and major health problems. It's better to be safe than sorry.


Mercury Pot

So here we are, at the heart of the operation. Although you can fail miserably before this step, this piece of equipment is critical to calculate both time and temperature. I'll post on safety in a different entry, let's just say that you do not use this unless it's in a well-designed, vented, tested, fume hood.

After the plate is polished, fumed and exposed, it comes to this unit. Here. the plate is fumed again but this time with heated mercury - Hg. There are many methods, times and temperatures, but the general rule is 100 C (212 F) for 2 minutes. The mercury is heated with an alcohol lamp - this is quicker and the "cool down" is quicker, too. I have nothing against electrical heaters for mercury - if that's what you like, go for it.

With René's design, I can inspect the plate through the "safe windows". Again, you can do this by time and temperature only, and a lot of people do, I prefer the visual, if I can get it.


All material © 2010 Studio Q - Quinn Jacobson Photography and René Smets.

 Designed and built by Rene Smets.