Boron occurs mainly in the environment through release into air, water, or soil after natural weathering processes. It can also be released from glass manufacturing, coal-burning power plants, copper smelters, and through its use in agricultural fertilizer and pesticides. It is estimated that releases from these sources are less than through natural weathering processes.
You can be exposed to boron in food (mainly vegetables and fruits), water, air, and consumer products. Infants, in particular, can be exposed to borates in products used to control cockroaches. Since boron is taken up from the soil by plants, it can enter the food chain. Although boron has been found in animal tissue, it does not accumulate and it is not likely that eating fish or meat will increase the boron levels in your body. Boron has been found in groundwater at very low levels. Background levels of boron up to 5 parts of boron in 1 million parts (ppm) of surface water have been reported. However, in dry areas where there are natural boron-rich deposits, boron concentrations can be as high as 360 ppm. No data were found on the occurrence of boron compounds in surface or groundwater. While current drinking water surveys do not report any levels of boron, it has been found in tap water in the past. Levels reported in drinking water were less than 1-3 ppm. There is potential for exposure to boron through contact with soil, since boron sticks to soil particles. Background levels up to 300 ppm have been reported. Exposure to air contaminated with boron is not likely to occur in the general population; however, there is risk of exposure to borate dust in the workplace. Concentrations from 1-14 milligrams of boron dust per cubic meter of air (mg/m ) have been reported in borax mining and refining plants and at sites where boric acid is manufactured. Exposure to boron may also occur from the use of consumer products, including cosmetics, topical medical preparations, and some laundry products. The average daily boron intake has been estimated to be 10-25 mg.
Further information on how you might be exposed to boron is given in Chapter 5.
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