Hazard Classifications

Statement on Borate Hazard Classifications

This statement applies to the following products produced by U.S. Borax:

  • Borax decahydrate NF
  • Borax decahydrate SQ
  • Optibor® HP
  • Optibor NF
  • Optibor SP
  • Optibor SQ

The products listed above are produced and packed at our Borax Français operation and the classification complies with the EU CLP mandatory classification for boric acid and sodium borates. In the EU, GHS was implemented under the European Union’s Classification, Labeling and Packaging (CLP) regulation in 2009. Under CLP, certain substances are assigned mandatory classifications by the European Commission in which cases self-classification is not allowed. Some borates—specifically boric acid, boric oxide, and the sodium tetraborates—were assigned a classification by EU regulatory authorities as toxic to reproduction category 1B. We and the rest of the borate industry disagree with this classification and made a concerted effort to have it changed to category 2 without success. However, the Safety Data Sheets and labels for these products comply with the EU CLP regardless of their ship-to country.

Borax Decahydrate and Optibor industrial grade products (ie, Borax Decahydrate TG/TP, Optibor TG/TP) produced and packed in the USA have been GHS self-classified as toxic to reproduction Category 2 in the Americas and Asia-Pacific regions which we believe is the appropriate hazard classification warranted by the data. The exceptions are China where boric acid has a mandatory Cat 1B classification and South Korea authorities assigned a mandatory Cat 1B classification for boric oxide.

  U.S. Borax Trade Name   EU CLP Classification
Optibor HP
Optibor NF
Optibor SP
Optibor SQ
May damage fertility. May damage the unborn child.
Borax Decahydrate NF
Borax Decahydrate SQ
May damage fertility. May damage the unborn child.
Causes serious eye irritation.

Borates have a long track record of being safe when used as directed, but GHS and CLP classification criteria are based on potential hazards. The hazard information that is printed on U.S. Borax packaging differs in North America and Asia vs the EU, but the products are not different—borates remain safe for people and the planet under conditions of normal handling and use, and most people’s greatest exposure to borates is through a healthy diet.



May 2020

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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