Water talk: Boron in drinking water
We have developed a guideline value for boron in drinking water to protect the health of Canadians. Learn about the health effects of boron and how to reduce your exposure if it is present in your drinking water.
On this page
- Boron in drinking water
- Health effects of boron in drinking water
- How to reduce your exposure to boron in drinking water
- Limit for boron in drinking water in Canada
- Contact us
Boron in drinking water
Boron is low in most Canadian drinking water supplies. Higher concentrations of boron can be found in groundwater supplies in areas where boron occurs naturally. However, elevated concentrations of boron are likely to occur only in a limited number of drinking water systems in Canada.
Testing is the only way to know if you have elevated levels of boron in your drinking water. If you’re interested in testing your drinking water for boron, especially if you have a private well, you should contact your municipality or local public health authority for advice and assistance.
Boron is a naturally occurring chemical, but can also enter the environment from fossil fuel combustion and wastewater disposal. It can be present in:
- certain products, such as:
- consumer products
- natural health products
Health effects of boron in drinking water
Although boron may be beneficial to human health, too much boron in drinking water can lead to adverse health effects.
Drinking water that contains high levels of boron may affect reproduction and development.
If you have concerns about your drinking water or health, contact your public drinking water authority or public health authority for more information.
How to reduce your exposure to boron in drinking water
Boron will not enter the body through the skin or by breathing in vapours while showering or bathing. Bathing and showering in water that contains boron should not be a health risk.
If you have elevated levels of boron in your drinking water, there are effective ways to remove it.
Although there are no residential treatment devices certified specifically for boron removal, reverse osmosis or distillation units may be capable of removing it. These are installed directly at the tap (point of use).
To make sure the treatment unit is working, you regularly test:
- the water at the tap
- the water entering the treatment unit
Make sure that any unit or system you buy is:
- certified as meeting the NSF International standard, NSF/ANSI Standard 58 (reverse osmosis) or Standard 62 (distillation)
- even if no residential treatment device is certified specifically to remove boron, this standard ensures the safety and performance of the device
- installed, maintained and replaced according to the instructions given by the manufacturer
If you are pregnant, breastfeeding or preparing infant formula
If you are pregnant, breastfeeding or preparing infant formula and suspect that your drinking water may contain boron, you should have it tested. If boron levels are above the guideline value, you may wish to:
- find an alternate source of drinking water or
- install a treatment device to remove boron
Limit for boron in drinking water in Canada
We have technical documents for various contaminants (the guidelines) that set out the basic parameters for every water authority in Canada. The parameters help water authorities achieve the cleanest, safest and most reliable drinking water possible.
Learn about the guidelines:
We worked with provinces and territories to establish a maximum level of boron recommended for drinking water. The maximum acceptable concentration is 5 milligrams per litre (mg/L). This level takes into consideration the treatment challenges of private wells and small systems.
If you have questions about the guidelines or boron in drinking water, you can contact us by:
- phone: 1-833-223-1014 (toll free)
- email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Health Canada does not give advice on individual situations, including medical and health concerns.
For medical problems, questions or concerns, contact your health care provider (your family doctor or a health clinic).
For water quality concerns, testing and interpreting results, contact your municipal service provider, local drinking water or health authority.
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