EPA promulgated Effluent Guidelines for Photographic Processing in 1976. The regulation (40 CFR Part 459) covers direct dischargingdirect dischargerA point source that discharges pollutants to waters of the United States, such as streams, lakes, or oceans. 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.
The Photographic Effluent Guidelines regulate direct dischargers 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.You may need a PDF reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA’s About PDF page to learn more.
- Review of Photoprocessing Industry - Memo to Record for 2006 Effluent Guidelines Plan (PDF)(9 pp, 318 K, August 11, 2005)
- Preliminary Data Summary of the Photoprocessing Industry (PDF)(84 pp, 13 MB, March 1997, 821-R-97-003)
- Guidance Document for the Control of Water Pollution in the Photographic Processing Industry (PDF)(277 pp, 11 MB, April 1981, EPA-440/1-81/082-9)
- Photographic Processing Effluent Guidelines - Interim Final Rule (PDF)(5 pp, 949 K, July 14, 1976, 41 FR 29078)
- Development Document for Interim Final Effluent Limitations Guidelines and Proposed New Source Performance Standards for the Photographic Processing Subcategory of the Photographic Point Source Category (PDF)(184 pp, 7 MB, July 1976, 440/1-76/060_l)