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What Happens If Borax Is Ingested?

Updated June 13, 2017

Borax is a chemical made from the element Boron. It is commonly used in washing powder and the production of fibreglass. Borax is a salt form of boric acid, a common ingredient in insecticides. If Borax is ingested by an insect, it usually results in death of the insect. When ingested, borax and boric acid also pose significant health risks to humans. There are typical symptoms of boric acid poisoning, and if you know or suspect that you or your child have ingested borax or boric acid, you should seek medical attention.

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Ingestion by Animals

Boric acid is a white inorganic powder. Borax is the salt form of boric acid. Both borax and boric acid are used to kill insects such as roaches. The insects ingest small particles of boric acid, which causes them to die. Since the compound has no repellent properties, the insects will return to the area and continue to consume boric acid until it has reached toxic levels. Keep this powder away from food and surfaces where food is kept or prepared.

Human Ingeston

Boric acid ingestion by humans can lead to boric acid poisoning, which is a serious condition. If a person swallows roach killing products that include borax or boric acid, he can suffer acute poisoning. Chronic poisoning results from repeated exposure to this substance. Symptoms of poisoning can include blue-green vomit, diarrhoea and a red rash on the skin. Other possible symptoms include blisters, collapse, convulsions, coma fever, sloughing of skin and fever.

Safety Measures

Borax is found in some antiseptics, enamels, medicated powders, glass powders, skin lotions, paints, pesticides and photography chemicals. Store these items out of the reach of children and pets. Should you mistakenly ingest borax or suspect that your child has done so, seek medical treatment immediately. Call poison control immediately and take the container of the substance consumed with you to the hospital.


Your health care provider will monitor your vital signs and initiate treatment if necessary. Possible interventions may include an endoscopy, dialysis, IV fluids and gastric lavage. Dangers are high for infants who have consumed borax and you should get care immediately.

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About the Author

Evelyn Broderick has been a writer since 2004. Her work has been published by the Jewish Alliance for Women in Science. She holds a Bachelor of Science in chemistry and biology from Macaulay Honors College and is pursuing an M.D./Ph.D. in immunology at Sloan Kettering. She is also a member of the New York Academy of Sciences.

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