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.

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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:

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:

Make sure that any unit or system you buy is:

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:

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.

Contact us

If you have questions about the guidelines or boron in drinking water, you can contact us by:

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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