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Boric Acid History


Boric Acid has been used since the ancient Greeks as a method to fireproof cloth. It is a mild astringent that kills bacteria and is used in eyewash to this day. It is also used as a Roach Killer. In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s it was still used as a food preservative until we found it was killing people and was banned from this use. In the past Boric Acid was used as 3% in ointment for babies diaper rash. Then we found this Boric Acid diaper rash cream made sick, caused permanent damage, and killed human infants when applied to babies diaper rash.


In 1964 a researcher named Wong published some studies that Boric Acid was much more toxic than once thought, but his work was largely ignored.


There are no studies that show Boric Acid is safe in mattresses. The industry claims it’s safe because we have always done it that way, and don’t know of killing anyone yet.


The industry claims Boric Acid has been ‘widely’ used in mattresses for over thirty years. However, a cotton-batting manufacturer told us that none of his innerspring mattress manufacturer customers use boric acid treated cotton. Since 1973 Boric Acid treated cotton has been used in some mattresses to pass the cigarette ignition law. However, simply putting a layer of polyester or foam under the ticking passes the test without any added chemicals. Most manufacturers simply stopped putting cotton in mattresses. Those who continued usually put a thin layer polyester or foam quilted in the ticking and over the cotton batting rather than pay the 7% extra cost of treated cotton. A very small number of the very cheapest mattresses may have still used unquilted ticking with Boric Acid treated cotton directly under the ticking.


In the last 35 years hundreds of studies have been published that prove Boric Acid is acutely toxic to people.


The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) a division of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) cites Boron/Boric Acid as one of 275 substances “which pose the most significant potential threat to human health” The Consumer Products Safety Commission states: "CPSC staff has previously provided its opinion that boric anhydride and boric acid are acutely toxic, ... Moreover, it is staff's opinion that boric acid falls within the CPSC's chronic toxicity guidelines issued under the FHSA. It is a probable reproductive and developmental toxicant in humans, based upon sufficient animal data." (Page 148) And the EPA says, “that manufacture, process, or use of the substance without dermal protection may result in serious chronic and developmental effects.”


A new 141 page report by the EPA, June 2004, and an ATSDR report on Boron/Boric Acid shows even more health risks: “Sterility, Infertility, … Demonstrated injury to the gonads and to the developing fetus. … Boron (as boron oxide and boric acid dusts) has been shown to cause irritation of the upper respiratory tract in humans. … Boron does cause health effects following acute dermal exposure. … Neonatal children are unusually susceptible to boron exposure. … Neurological damage is an area of concern following exposure to boron …” A simple look at the MSDS on Boron/Boric Acid will be enough to convince you.


The first lines of a National Cotton Batting Institute (Association of Cotton Batting Manufacturers) web page reads:


“The standard for making cotton flame and smolder-resistant is the application of boric acid to the fiber.


Generally applied in the mixing machine prior to garnetting, boric acid is introduced to the cotton fibers along with a small amount of oil and chemical surfactant. To further achieve even distribution and adherence to the fibers, the boric acid is ground to a very fine consistency prior to application.” This web page also admits that the question of health safety comes up regularly every year.


Treated cotton batting usually contains 10% to 14% Boric Acid by weight to pass the 1973 law for cigarette ignition. I would expect new systems contain higher percentages to pass the new open flame test. Boron/Boric Acid exists as loose dust mixed with the cotton batting. Assuming only 10% by weight, and weighing the flame barrier cotton batting in a mattress, a Queen size mattress contains 1.5 pounds of Boric Acid powder, and a King size 1.8 pounds of Boric Acid powder.


Boric Acid can do human damage with no external symptoms. There is no single biological marker for Boric Acid poisoning. It took 40-years for us to realize the health effects of Asbestos. We have already killed 300,000 people while trying to protect them from fire with Asbestos. It is expected another10,000 people every year will continue to die from Asbestos for the next 25-years. While not everyone was exposed to Asbestos, all of us sleep in a mattress.


The CPSC does not approve of Boric Acid in mattresses and says more study is needed. Yet some mattress manufacturers cite common knowledge that we don’t know of killing anyone yet, put a pound or more of Boric Acid powder as loose dust in the surface of all their mattresses nationwide, and advertise “The Safe Mattress.” They also claim their fire-barrier system contains no harmful chemicals. Ten million people and growing are already unknowingly sleeping in toxic powder.


No one can yet prove or disprove the safety of sleeping in this poison; it has never been studied in mattresses. But our recent science gives strong warnings. We may find too late we have done human harm.


According to the CPSC, your risk of dying in a mattress fire is one in one million. Do you want to sleep in Boron/Boric Acid to further reduce this risk?



Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) and Scientific Reports on Chemicals used to flameproof mattresses:

EPA Boric Acid Review, June 2004, Conclusions: “have identified the developing fetus and the testes as the two most sensitive targets of boron toxicity … high prenatal mortality, reduced fetal body weight and malformations and variations of the eyes, central nervous system, cardiovascular system, and axial skeleton … The testicular effects that have been reported include reduced organ weight and organ:body weight ratio, atrophy, … reduced fertility and sterility”

CDC Boric Acid Review, Health Effects, 1992, Conclusions: “Demonstrated injury to the gonads and to the developing fetus. … Boron (as boron oxide and boric acid dusts) has been shown to cause irritation of the upper respiratory tract in humans. … Boron does cause health effects following acute dermal exposure. … Neonatal children are unusually susceptible to boron exposure. … Neurological damage is an area of concern following exposure to boron …

Boric Acid MSDS: “Chronic Exposure: Prolonged absorption causes weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, skin rash, convulsions and anemia. Liver and particularly the kidneys may be susceptible.”

Antimony Oxide MSDS: “Potential Health Effects: ... May cause heart to beat irregularly or stop. … Chronic Exposure: Prolonged or repeated exposure may damage the liver and the heart muscle. Prolonged skin contact may cause irritation, dermatitis, itching, and pimple eruptions. There is an association between antimony trioxide production and an increased incidence of lung cancer.”

Vinylidene Chloride MSDS: irritation, symptoms of drunkenness, lung congestion, liver damage, convulsions LONG TERM EXPOSURE: kidney damage, tumors

Decabromodiphenyl Oxide, Brominated Flame Retardant, 82% Bromine Minimum, contains free Bromine,

Bromine MSDS: “Skin Contact: Corrosive! Symptoms may include skin discoloration, pain, serious burns, blistering, and slow healing ulcers. Eye Contact: Corrosive. Can cause blurred vision, redness, pain, severe tissue burns and eye damage. Chronic Exposure: Pulmonary edema, pneumonia, diarrhea, and rashes may be delayed complications of severe exposures.”



Notice: The statements and questions contained in this notice are not intended to convey allegations regarding any particular company, person, or association. Readers should conduct their own investigation of a company or association or person to ascertain the particular policies, practices, and motivations of that entity. We have reported what we believe to be true and correct to the best of our knowledge and opinion at the time of its writing in a free speech effort to avert a public health disaster.