Some excerpts (there is a lot more in the article): "I'm writing this article even though a California environmentalist group advised me not to say anything against boric acid and that I would pay dearly for only trying to mislead the public. My company uses a lot of boric acid, but not as described above.
Under an OSHA Hazard Communication Standard, based on animal chronic toxicity studies of inorganic borate chemicals, boric acid and/or borates are Hazardous Materials. California has identified boric acid as a hazardous waste. The above information is taken from Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) 25-80-2320 (Section 2 and 13) supplied by U.S. Borax Inc. (the major supplier of borax to many industries).
The National Academy of Sciences reports that children may be uniquely sensitive to chemicals and pesticide residues because of their rapid tissue growth and development. Most laboratory tests are performed on fully grown adult laboratory animals.
On page 312 of the National Academy of Sciences' report Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children (under the section entitled "Non-dietary Exposure to Pesticides") boric acid is cited as one of the pesticides/fungicides that can induce adverse skin reactions such as contact dermatitis and hyperkeratosis with dermal contact of treated surfaces."
"Boric acid is generally known as a desiccant; in other words, it kills by removing the moisture from the body of the target pests, causing severe dehydration which will affect electrolyte metabolism with the potential of metabolic acidosis. In fact, boric acid is a stomach poison normally ingested, along with the fact that it can also enter the blood by inhalation. Boric acid is an acid. Acid will decrease the pH level with the possible side effects of renal, respiratory, and cardiovascular failure. Symptoms and signs of boric acid poisoning are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, dysphagia, cold sweats, dyspnea, muscular debility, scarlatinal eruptions, subnormal temperature, cardiac weakness, cyanosis, coma, collapse, etc. Boric acid is 3 parts hydrogen, 1 part boron, and 3 parts oxygen. Recently U.S. Borax discovered that boric acid contains traces of arsenic."
"Limiting the use (application methods and locations) of pesticides and/or reducing of unnecessary human and/or animal contact with pesticides regardless of their perceived safety is of the utmost importance. Many illnesses may be directly related to a pesticide or chemical but because of its perceived safety could be overlooked."
"Warning! May cause eye and skin irritation. May cause respiratory tract irritation. Causes digestive tract irritation. May cause central nervous system effects. May cause adverse reproductive effects.
Target Organs: None known.
Potential Health Effects
Eye: May cause eye irritation.
Skin: May cause skin irritation. May be absorbed through damaged or abraded skin in harmful amounts.
Ingestion: Causes gastrointestinal irritation with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. May cause kidney damage. May cause gastric disturbances and electrolytic imbalance. May cause central nervous system effects. May cause cyanosis (bluish discoloration of skin due to deficient oxygenation of the blood). CNS effects (excitement or depression, lethargy, headache, coma, seizures), dehydration, arrhythmias, shock and metabolic acidosis have been reported in extreme adult and pediatric cases.
Inhalation: May cause respiratory tract irritation. The toxicological properties of this substance have not been fully investigated. May cause irritation of the mucous membranes.
Chronic: Prolonged or repeated skin contact may cause dermatitis. Chronic poisoning by boron compounds, borism, may be little more than dry skin and mucous membranes, followed by appearance of a red tongue, patchy alopecia (hair loss), cracked lips, and conjunctivitis. Infants and young children are more susceptible to boric acid poisoning than adults. May cause adverse reproductive effects."
"A new law is being enacted nationwide by the CPSC within the next year, and goes into effect in California January 1, which requires all mattresses to resist ignition from open flames. The primary chemical used, as a flame retardant, is a poisonous pesticide called Boric Acid, yes exactly the same chemical shown at left (H3BO3). Our recent Science gives us many more warnings on human exposure. The EPA and CDC warn of Reproductive, Developmental, and Neurological Damage. It has many known health risks including, genital damage, brain damage, anemia, infertility, birth defects, and death, and at the very least may dry and irritate your skin and lungs.
This Poisonous chemical is going in our beds, not in some plastic part on your computer. Our Beds, where we sleep, are intimate, and lay our newborn babies with us. These chemicals are concentrated in the surface of our mattresses and absorb through our skin and breathing. Doctors agree long close exposure on a mattress eight hours every day increases risks.
This issue is urgent because these chemicals are already being added to many new mattresses nationwide in anticipation of this new law. The law becomes effective January 1st in California and probably within the next year for the entire United States.While Boric Acid is an ancient method to fireproof cloth, it is also a known poisonous pesticide/insecticide. When Roaches, Ants, and other insects walk through its dust it kills them, and their entire colony within three weeks. It may be safe use to fireproof something like booth drapes at a convention. But this time they are putting a large amount of it in the surface of our mattresses!"
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reviewed the safety of Boric Acid and approved its use as an indirect food additive as a component of adhesives and paper and paperboard.
The safety of Sodium Borate and Boric Acid has been assessed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel. The CIR Expert Panel evaluated the scientific data and concluded that Sodium Borate and Boric Acid, in concentrations less than or equal to 5%, are safe as cosmetic ingredients. The CIR Expert Panel also cautioned that cosmetics and personal care products containing free Sodium Borate or Boric Acid at 5% should not be used on infant skin or injured skin."