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Old 02-24-2004, 11:13 AM   #1
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Test kits: dangerous?

I went to two LFS and both recommended the TetraLab test kit. When I got it home, I noticed the big label that says "KNOWN TO CAUSE CANCER". 8O I asked one of the LFS about that and they just shrugged it off with "that's just something California requires."

Well, I just filled my tank for the first time (29 gallons) and used the test kit. I couldn't believe some of the ingredients, like hydrochloric acid. 8O The ammonia test requires 3 different reagents. It took me 90 minutes to perform tests for pH, GH, KH, NO2, NO3, NH3, and NH4.

I'm not comfortable with the time it takes to do these tests and the chemicals they require. If I have to do this every day until my tank is cycled, I may give up already. Is there a faster, safer, easier way?
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Old 02-24-2004, 11:18 AM   #2
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bah. If you test your water you use chemicals...

Hydrochloric acid is a "minor" acid. Unless you ingest it or throw it in your eyes, there is essentially no significant danger. Anyway, there should be no reason to fear if you follow the instructions. Use the small cap to shake the bottles, and don't use your finger. Do not ingest the products, don't drink it, don't etc.
If you have children and pets around, put the chemicals in a safe place.

You live in a very chemical life, anyway. Your dish washing products contain much more dangerous products; your coca-cola is full of chemicals, etc.

90min for a few tests seem too long. You should be able to do them in 10-20min.
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Old 02-24-2004, 12:23 PM   #3
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I test three tanks in my house every Thursday. I dip the little testube in a tank, take it to the kitchen, add the chemicals, wait five minutes to be sure it's okay, then do my water change. Move onto next tank. I will admit that my pH stays rather constant, so I don't test it each week, I just test the nitrites and ammonia every week, and the pH once a month.

It takes me 20 minutes to test and water change all three tanks. I am using a test kit from Aquarium pharmaceuticals and they all say on the bottle that the chemicals can be hazardous if ingested or put in eyes. It's legalese for the chemical manufacturer so if you are dumb enough to taste the stuff, you can't sue them.
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Old 02-24-2004, 12:29 PM   #4
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Chemicals are also classified as a function of toxicity levels. In principle, as a general user, one should never get checmicals with high toxicity levels. For example, I doubt that you ever manage to easily get HF (fluorhydric acid). HCl is toxic, but not very much with the usual concentration seen in the water testing kits. If it was much more concentrated it would fume, and *that* is dangerous.

Anyway, "exposure to the Sun is known to cause cancer". So you could stay out of the sunshine, but then you'd get other much nastier diseases. IMHO, the kits we get for our water testing are not strong chemicals. Splashing your hands with gas at the gas station is much more cancerigeneous.
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Old 02-24-2004, 12:29 PM   #5
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Yeah, as long as you don't squirt the reagents all over your body, drink them, or other wise injest, you're fine, and so are the fish. I mean, sacchrine is a fake sweetner that also causes cancer in lab mice...when they inject them with about 40 cans of diet coke worth every day.

I also agree that 90 mins is not how long it normally takes to test everything. The first time, sure...because you obviously read all the instructions and were real careful. In a week or two, you'll know it's 5 drops of nitrite reagent, etc...
Plus, GH and KH don't have to be tested very often. These shouldn't ever fluctuate provided you're doing normal water changes.
They do make 'quick dip' test strips, but I don't trust their accuracy...but they might be ok to use during a fishless cycle.

Stick with it, it will get easier.
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Old 02-24-2004, 12:30 PM   #6
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The NH3/4 test in the TetraLab kit says skin contact is dangerous.
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Old 02-24-2004, 12:36 PM   #7
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I guess, the test is based on salycilate. Anway, the argument is the same: if you have stuff on you and you are afraid, then wash the skin thoroughly for 1-2 min. Honestly, your dish washing product is also dangerous on skin contact.
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Old 02-24-2004, 12:44 PM   #8
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so just wash your hands after doing this test.

bleach on your skin is dangerous. so is gasoline...comet cleaner...etc.

you're freaking out over something that's not that dangerous
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Old 02-24-2004, 03:39 PM   #9
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I just wash my hands well.
One of the reagents in mine is a formalgahyde(sp)..anyway I smelled it on enough carcasses in biology... any acid should be used with caution. We put acetone on our fingernails while removing polish. And most will stick their hands in their mouth before rinsing at some point that day.
They are just raw chemicals. they can stain, or ruin synthetic carpets, cause a reaction on sensitive skin and they want to be sure you don't dump it back into the tank..
(some guy here local wanted new fish because he did that....)
Relax and use with peace. All you have to do is wash your ands.
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Old 02-24-2004, 05:13 PM   #10
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Elmonty, I am a biochemist who works with some downright nasty chemicals every day, so take it from me, you can relax.
However, good for you for reading the warning labels and asking for advice - most people who suffer chemical-related injuries don't bother to do either.

The test kit manufacturers are required to put those scary labels on their products by federal environmental protection and interstate shipping laws.

None of the chemicals in these test kits will cause acute harm aside from a rare allergic sensitivity. Even the acids are too dilute to cause burns unless you soak yourself in them.

If you happen to spill any on your self, your clothing, or your furniture, simply wash the affected area well with soapy water. To get cancer, you would have to be chronically exposed to these chemicals in a much more concentrated form for a long period of time.

I'm just curious why the tests took so long. I'm not familiar with the tetra kits, but the Aquarium Pharmaceuticals kits just take 5 minutes each. I do them all together, so it only takes me 10 minutes or less to test for everything.
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