Boron

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Boron is an element found in nature, often combined with other chemicals in compounds called borates.[1] Common borates include boric acid, salts of borates, and boron oxide.

Uses

While borates are mostly used to produce glass, they are also used in fire retardants, leather tanning industries, cosmetics, photographic materials, soaps and cleaners, and for high energy fuel.[2] They are also used in pesticides and wood preservatives.

In the Environment

Boron is released in the environment from natural sources (oceans, volcanoes, and geothermal steam) and from industries that use it.[3] Boron is frequently found in surface water and groundwater.

In Sewage Sludge

In the Targeted National Sewage Sludge Survey, a 2009 test of 84 samples of sewage sludge from around the U.S., the EPA found boron in 80 samples (95%) in concentrations ranging from 5.70 to 204.0 parts per million.[4]

Human Exposure and Health Effects

Humans can be exposed to born in food, mostly in fruits and vegetables.[5] People can be exposed to boron in borax mining and refining plants, or by using products that contain borates, like cosmetics and laundry products.

"People working in dusty workplaces where borates are mined and processed have reported irritation of the nose, throat, and eyes. The irritation does not persist for long periods after leaving the dusty area."[6]

"Exposure to large amounts of boron (about 30 g of boric acid) over short periods of time can affect the stomach, intestines, liver, kidney, and brain and can eventually lead to death."[7]

In animal studies, ingesting large amounts of boron affects male reproductive organs, especially the testes.[8]

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, ToxFAQs for Boron, Accessed August 28, 2010.
  2. Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, ToxFAQs for Boron, Accessed August 28, 2010.
  3. Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, ToxFAQs for Boron, Accessed August 28, 2010.
  4. Targeted National Sewage Sludge Survey Report, US EPA website, Accessed August 28, 2010.
  5. Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, ToxFAQs for Boron, Accessed August 28, 2010.
  6. Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, ToxFAQs for Boron, Accessed August 28, 2010.
  7. Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, ToxFAQs for Boron, Accessed August 28, 2010.
  8. Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, ToxFAQs for Boron, Accessed August 28, 2010.

External resources

External articles