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Question from Dylan


I basically wanted to know what the verdict was on borax? I have seen various things in various places about it and I am considering using a wallpaper adhesive that contains less than 1% Sodium borate, decahydrate.  Just wanted to get your thoughts on the safety of this product as I will be using a lot of it because I have a lot of wallpaper

Lisa’s Answer

You’ve probably seen the EWG article on Borax which recommends avoiding it.

Borax can be an irritant when it comes in contact with the skin and eyes but it can also be inhaled.  EWG states that “Borax and its cousin, boric acid, may disrupt hormones and harm the male reproductive system. Men working in boric acid-producing factories have a greater risk of decreased sperm count and libido. According to EPA’s safety review of these pesticides, chronic exposure to high doses of borax or boric acid causes testicular atrophy in male mice, rats and dogs.”

For chronic exposure, Japan’s Globally Harmonized System (GHS) for chemical management rates it as a high level of toxicity for reproduction and The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX) rates it as a medium to high hazard level as an endocrine disrupter.  I consider this enough evidence to determine it’s best to avoid it in general.

However, the fact that it makes up just 1% of the formula means that it is in very low levels.  What I don’t know is how the product cures and if the borax would be encapsulated and not able to emit any fumes once cured.  Have you looked at the safety data sheet (SDS) for the product.  If you can post that here it might provide some more clues.

In general I don’t recommend wallpaper.  It creates a favorable environment for mold and the wallpaper itself is often a source of toxins. A lot of wallpaper is made of PVC which is much more of a concern.  Wallpaper inks can also emit harmful fumes.




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