Learn about boric acid and if it’s safe.
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About boric acid
Boric acid is a common form of boron, a naturally occurring element found in different minerals. Natural sources include:
- sea salt spray
- rocks and soil dust
- food, such as fruits and vegetables
It can be found in everyday items, such as:
- cleaning products
- swimming pool and spa chemicals
- drugs and natural health products
Many recipes available online also use boric acid to make homemade arts and crafts materials, such as:
- modelling clay
Safety of boric acid
Natural sources of boric acid in food are considered safe. Canadians should continue to eat a balanced diet according to Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide.
Canadians are already exposed to boric acid in their diet. You should reduce your exposure from other sources to avoid overexposure.
Overexposure to boric acid
We assessed the potential health and environmental risks of boric acid through a draft chemical risk assessment. We are proposing that overexposure to boric acid could affect human development and reproduction. .
Canada’s concern is not with 1 product, but with multiple exposures from more than 1 source.
Ongoing protective measures
There are regulations that limit the amount of boric acid in some products that Canadians use.
Currently, we are looking at the amount of boric acid in:
- cleaning products
- pool and spa chemicals
- creams, lotions and other cosmetics
- homemade arts and crafts materials
We will provide an update after we have completed our final assessment.
We will continue to monitor the use of boric acid in products sold in Canada. If a product is a risk to consumers, we will act quickly to protect Canadians from chemical exposure.
Exposure to boric acid from pesticides
We recently re-evaluated 112 pesticide products registered in Canada that contain boric acid. These are used to control insects and fungi in:
- wood and its related products
Of these products, 87 pesticides have been granted continued registration.
They have also been updated to meet new labelling requirements. These stronger label requirements are in place to better protect the health of Canadians.
For example, products used in and around the home will only be allowed in areas that children and pets can’t access. These include:
- behind appliances
- cracks and crevices
- pest bait stations that are enclosed
Spot treatments that use a gel formula will also continue to be registered.
We cancelled 25 products, including:
- solutions which are not in enclosed bait stations
- domestic products with dust, powder or granular formulas
- 1 commercial product used in poultry houses and barns
Companies had 2 years after our evaluation to:
- phase out a product
- make the required label changes
Minimize your exposure to boric acid
Other than food and water, you should limit your sources of exposure as much as possible. Children and pregnant women should be especially careful.
You can minimize your exposure to boric acid by checking product labels. Look for terms such as:
- boric acid
Do not make homemade pesticides using boric acid.
When making children’s arts and crafts at home like slimes, use recipes that do not contain boric acid.
Other ways to minimize exposure to boric acid:
- follow all directions on cleaning products
- check the pesticide label search mobile app
- store cleaning products out of sight and reach of children
- contact the manufacturer to find out if the product contains boric acid
- dispose of chemicals properly based on the manufacturer’s directions
Make sure to use:
- over-the-counter products that have a drug identification number (DIN), natural product number (NPN) or homeopathic number (DIN-HM)
- These numbers mean the product is regulated under Canada’s Food and Drugs Act and Regulations.
- pesticides that have a Pest Control Products Act (PCP) registration number on the label
If you are exposed to boric acid at work, talk to your employer and occupational health and safety (OHS) official about:
- relevant laws
- safe handling and storage practices
- requirements under OHS legislation and the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System
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