Natural weathering of boron-containing rocks is a major source of boron compounds in water (Butterwick et al. 1989). The quantity of boron released varies widely with the geographic variations in boron-rich deposits. In the United States, the area richest in natural boron deposits is the Mojave Desert in California (Butterwick et al. 1989; Stokinger 1981).

Boron compounds are released to water in municipal sewage from perborates in detergents, and in waste waters from coal-burning power plants, copper smelters, and industries using boron. Borate levels above background may be present in runoff waters from areas where boron-containing fertilizers or herbicides were used (Butterwick et al. 1989; Nolte 1988; Waggott 1969). An average concentration of 1 mg boron/L was reported in sewage effluents in California (Butterwick et al. 1989). No other quantitative data regarding boron releases to water in the United States were located.

However, Waggott (1969) reported that boron concentrations in municipal sewage in a treatment plant in England ranged from 2.5 to 6.5 mg/L, releasing between 130 and 240 kg boron/day.

Boron has been detected in surface water and groundwater at hazardous waste sites. Data from the Contract Laboratory Program (CLP) Statistical Database indicate that boron occurred at about 20% of the sites at a geometric mean concentration of 156 ppb (0.156 mg boron/L) in positive samples of groundwater and at about 5% of the sites at a geometric mean of 1,177 ppb (1.177 mg boron/L) in surface water (CLPSD) 1989).

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