Boric Acid History
Boric Acid has been used
since the ancient Greeks as a method to fireproof cloth. It is a mild
astringent that kills bacteria and is used in eyewash to this day. It is
also used as a Roach Killer. In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s it was
still used as a food preservative until we found it was killing people and
was banned from this use. In the past Boric Acid was used as 3% in ointment
for babies diaper rash. Then we found this Boric Acid diaper rash cream made
sick, caused permanent damage, and killed human infants when applied to
babies diaper rash.
In 1964 a researcher
named Wong published some studies that Boric Acid was much more toxic than
once thought, but his work was largely ignored.
There are no studies that
show Boric Acid is safe in mattresses. The industry claims it’s safe because
we have always done it that way, and don’t know of killing anyone yet.
The industry claims Boric
Acid has been ‘widely’ used in mattresses for over thirty years. However, a
cotton-batting manufacturer told us that none of his innerspring mattress
manufacturer customers use boric acid treated cotton. Since 1973 Boric Acid
treated cotton has been used in some mattresses to pass the cigarette
ignition law. However, simply putting a layer of polyester or foam under the
ticking passes the test without any added chemicals. Most manufacturers
simply stopped putting cotton in mattresses. Those who continued usually put
a thin layer polyester or foam quilted in the ticking and over the cotton
batting rather than pay the 7% extra cost of treated cotton. A very small
number of the very cheapest mattresses may have still used unquilted ticking
with Boric Acid treated cotton directly under the ticking.
In the last 35 years
hundreds of studies have been published that prove Boric Acid is acutely
toxic to people.
The Agency for Toxic
Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) a division of the Center for Disease
Control (CDC) cites Boron/Boric Acid as one of 275 substances “which pose
the most significant potential threat to human health” The Consumer
Products Safety Commission states: "CPSC staff has previously provided its
opinion that boric anhydride and boric acid are acutely toxic, ... Moreover,
it is staff's opinion that boric acid falls within the CPSC's chronic
toxicity guidelines issued under the FHSA. It is a probable reproductive and
developmental toxicant in humans, based upon sufficient animal data." (Page
148) And the EPA says, “that manufacture, process, or use of the
substance without dermal protection may result in serious chronic and
A new 141 page report by
the EPA, June 2004, and an ATSDR report on Boron/Boric Acid shows
even more health risks: “Sterility, Infertility, … Demonstrated injury to
the gonads and to the developing fetus. … Boron (as boron oxide and
boric acid dusts) has been shown to cause irritation of the upper
respiratory tract in humans. … Boron does cause health effects following
acute dermal exposure. … Neonatal children are unusually susceptible to
boron exposure. … Neurological damage is an area of concern following
exposure to boron …” A simple look at the MSDS on Boron/Boric Acid will be
enough to convince you.
The first lines of a
National Cotton Batting Institute (Association of Cotton Batting
Manufacturers) web page reads:
“The standard for making
cotton flame and smolder-resistant is the application of boric acid to the
Generally applied in the
mixing machine prior to garnetting, boric acid is introduced to the cotton
fibers along with a small amount of oil and chemical surfactant. To further
achieve even distribution and adherence to the fibers, the boric acid is
ground to a very fine consistency prior to application.”
http://www.natbat.com/docs/boron.htm This web page also admits that the
question of health safety comes up regularly every year.
Treated cotton batting
usually contains 10% to 14% Boric Acid by weight to pass the 1973 law for
cigarette ignition. I would expect new systems contain higher percentages to
pass the new open flame test. Boron/Boric Acid exists as loose dust mixed
with the cotton batting. Assuming only 10% by weight, and weighing the flame
barrier cotton batting in a mattress, a Queen size mattress contains 1.5
pounds of Boric Acid powder, and a King size 1.8 pounds of Boric Acid
Boric Acid can do human
damage with no external symptoms. There is no single biological marker for
Boric Acid poisoning. It took 40-years for us to realize the health effects
of Asbestos. We have already killed 300,000 people while trying to protect
them from fire with Asbestos. It is expected another10,000 people every year
will continue to die from Asbestos for the next 25-years. While not everyone
was exposed to Asbestos, all of us sleep in a mattress.
The CPSC does not approve
of Boric Acid in mattresses and says more study is needed. Yet some mattress
manufacturers cite common knowledge that we don’t know of killing anyone
yet, put a pound or more of Boric Acid powder as loose dust in the surface
of all their mattresses nationwide, and advertise “The Safe Mattress.” They
also claim their fire-barrier system contains no harmful chemicals. Ten
million people and growing are already unknowingly sleeping in toxic powder.
No one can yet prove or
disprove the safety of sleeping in this poison; it has never been studied in
mattresses. But our recent science gives strong warnings. We may find too
late we have done human harm.
According to the CPSC,
your risk of dying in a mattress fire is one in one million. Do you want to
sleep in Boron/Boric Acid to further reduce this risk?
Data Sheets (MSDS) and Scientific Reports
on Chemicals used to flameproof mattresses:
EPA Boric Acid
Review, June 2004, Conclusions:
“have identified the developing fetus and the testes as the two most
sensitive targets of boron toxicity … high prenatal mortality, reduced fetal
body weight and malformations and variations of the eyes, central nervous
system, cardiovascular system, and axial skeleton … The testicular effects
that have been reported include reduced organ weight and organ:body weight
ratio, atrophy, … reduced fertility and sterility”
CDC Boric Acid
Review, Health Effects, 1992,
Conclusions: “Demonstrated injury to the gonads and to the developing fetus.
… Boron (as boron oxide and boric acid dusts) has been shown to cause
irritation of the upper respiratory tract in humans. … Boron does cause
health effects following acute dermal exposure. … Neonatal children are
unusually susceptible to boron exposure. … Neurological damage is an area of
concern following exposure to boron …
Boric Acid MSDS:
“Chronic Exposure: Prolonged absorption causes weight loss, vomiting,
diarrhea, skin rash, convulsions and anemia. Liver and particularly the
kidneys may be susceptible.”
“Potential Health Effects: ... May cause heart to beat irregularly or stop.
… Chronic Exposure: Prolonged or repeated exposure may damage the liver and
the heart muscle. Prolonged skin contact may cause irritation, dermatitis,
itching, and pimple eruptions. There is an association between antimony
trioxide production and an increased incidence of lung cancer.”
irritation, symptoms of drunkenness, lung congestion, liver damage,
convulsions LONG TERM EXPOSURE: kidney damage, tumors
Brominated Flame Retardant, 82% Bromine Minimum, contains free Bromine,
“Skin Contact: Corrosive! Symptoms may include skin discoloration, pain,
serious burns, blistering, and slow healing ulcers. Eye Contact: Corrosive.
Can cause blurred vision, redness, pain, severe tissue burns and eye damage.
Chronic Exposure: Pulmonary edema, pneumonia, diarrhea, and rashes may be
delayed complications of severe exposures.”
"POISON! DANGER! SUSPECT CANCER HAZARD. MAY CAUSE CANCER. Risk of cancer
depends on level and duration of exposure. VAPOR HARMFUL. HARMFUL IF INHALED
OR ABSORBED THROUGH SKIN. CAUSES IRRITATION TO SKIN, EYES AND RESPIRATORY
TRACT. STRONG SENSITIZER. MAY BE FATAL OR CAUSE BLINDNESS IF SWALLOWED.
CANNOT BE MADE NONPOISONOUS."
Notice: The statements and questions contained in this notice are not
intended to convey allegations regarding any particular company, person, or
association. Readers should conduct their own investigation of a company or
association or person to ascertain the particular policies, practices, and
motivations of that entity. We have reported what we believe to be true and
correct to the best of our knowledge and opinion at the time of its writing
in a free speech effort to avert a public health disaster.