Since the first Daguerrean Artists managed to shorten their lives with toxic chemicals, the warnings have been clear about the dangers associated with photo chemistry.
You might think you are safe in today's digital world but I've got some news for you that may be the most important thing I've ever posted here! If you are working with old photos, you need to think about the possibility that the stuff we clean off of them might not be user friendly!
Three weeks ago I ended up in ER and I'm just now coming off of heavy doses of Prednisone to take care of a rash that covered nearly 35% of my body in less than three days before it could be stopped. Here's the conclusions is as to the probable cause.
In a rush to finish transferring some 1940's film - we moved the setup away from the usual well ventilated location into a darkened hall and I worked most of the day with a projector blowing near my face - probably rubbed a bit of whatever was on those old boxes or film into my eyes - did not bother to put on a pair of cotton gloves (that would have been too easy) and used no eye protection although there are signs on a nearby wall that tell you to do all of these things! After all, to an old pro what's the probability of a health problem coming from so simple job as transferring a few thousand feet of film!
Fungus and molds dry up on old artifacts and you don't see the stuff - a bit of moisture and it's alive and well! Shades of Jurassic Park! Take heed!!
Timemark Photo Conservators