Effluent Guidelines

Photographic Processing Effluent Guidelines

EPA promulgated Effluent Guidelines for Photographic Processing in 1976. The regulation (40 CFR Part 459) covers direct discharging photo processing facilities with limitations for silver, cyanide, and pH. The Effluent Guidelines are incorporated into NPDES permits.

What is Photographic Processing?

Photographic processing is the development or printing of paper prints, slides, negatives, enlargements, movie film, and other sensitized materials. This work is performed by establishments providing the following services: portrait photography for the general public; commercial photography; commercial art or graphic design; or photo finishing. The process wastewater discharged by these facilities typically includes: 1) film and paper wash water, 2) solution make-up water and 3) area and equipment wash water.

Facilities Covered

The Photographic Effluent Guidelines regulate direct dischargersHelpdirect dischargerA point source that discharges pollutants to waters of the United States, such as streams, lakes, or oceans. that process more than 150 square meters (1600 square feet) of material per day. Both commercial and government facilities are potentially subject to these regulations.

Guidance and Background Documents

EPA issued a guidance document in 1981 to support development of NPDES permits for photo processors; and conducted reviews of the existing regulation in 1997 and 2005.

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