Borate Uses and Safety

Does fiberglass contain boron?

Not all fiberglass contains boron, but most of it does. Boron is added to fiberglass to increase its strength. For more information, read Boric Oxide for Insulation Fiberglass.

What are the benefits of boron in laundry detergent?

Borates in laundry detergent help:

  • Improve cleaning action
  • Prevent dirt from redepositing on clothes
  • Control pH
  • Safely and effectively bleach stains

For more information, read Boron in Cleaners and Detergents. For questions about the consumer product 20 Mule Team® Laundry Booster, please visit: or call 1.800.457.8739.

Is boron toxic?
Scientists conduct studies to determine both the level at which boron is harmful and the level at which boron is beneficial to health. Laboratory animals that ingested high doses of borates over long periods have shown adverse developmental and reproductive effects. In studies where boron is completely removed from the diet and environment, similar adverse effects occur.

In other words, too little boron is as bad as too much. 
What do studies of populations or workers exposed to high levels of borates show?
No evidence of adverse reproductive effects attributable to boron have been observed in epidemiological studies of borate workers and populations with high exposures to boron. Learn more about the safe handling of borates.
What would happen if you accidentally ingested a very high dose of borates?
An extremely high intake of borates would make most people vomit. But it is nearly impossible to be exposed to such quantities through eating foods or using products that contain borates. We’ve been mining and refining borates for more than 140 years. Evaluation of our workers—who are exposed to higher levels of borates than most people—have shown no adverse developmental or reproductive effects. In most instances where people have experienced artificially high borate intake, vomiting or excretion in urine has been rapid, and blood and tissue concentrations were quickly back to normal.

U.S. Borax, part of Rio Tinto, is a global leader in the supply and science of borates—naturally-occurring minerals containing boron and other elements. We are 1,000 people serving 650 customers with more than 1,800 delivery locations globally. We supply around 30% of the world’s need for refined borates from our world-class mine in Boron, California, about 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles.  Learn more about Rio Tinto.

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