(Disclaimer: If technical science jargon tends to make your eyes glaze over, fret not! We've made this article engaging and provided a simplified summary at the end. Scroll down if you're in a hurry.)
Ever seen a hot topic go down in a storm of opinions? Borax is that storm! Also known as sodium borate, sodium tetraborate, or disodium tetraborate, this intriguing compound has sparked fiery debates that could put reality TV to shame. Buckle up as we dive deep into the scientific labyrinth, sifting fact from fiction about borax and its impact on our environment.
Enough with the buzz and misinformation; let's roll up our sleeves and sift through the scientific dirt on borax. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has stamped it with a worrying F rating, echoing the European Union's stand labeling borax as a major risk for reproductive harm.
At the date of writing this article (July 07, 2023), the evidence hinting at Endocrine disruption reads, "Clear Evidence of Endocrine Disruption in at least one animal study." But hold your horses! It's key to scrutinize such claims. Upon digging into the source, the 'clear evidence' starts to seem murky. Buried in the EU's evidence  are studies indicating that feeding rats ~518 mg/kg of borax leads to sterility. Converting this to a human dosage (by multiplying the rat dosage by 12.3), you end up with 6371.4 mg/kg. For an average 6-year-old girl weighing 20 kg, this translates to a whopping 127 grams of borax—about as much as munching on an entire bag of laundry detergent. Unlikely, right? And what about skin contact, since our laundry often comes into direct contact with our skin? Research shows that skin absorption of boron is minimal, barely 0.2% of the exposed dosage . *Despite this, applying borax or laundry powders directly to the skin is a big no-no.
A study examining workers in boron plants in China and Turkey turned up no evidence of negative health impacts. However, let's not forget this research had financial backing from boron manufacturers. Adding another layer to our investigation, a German study revealed that natural boron in drinking water posed no discernible threat to humans.
While new research and emerging evidence can shift our perspective, as it stands, the current data suggests that borax does not pose a significant threat to human health or the environment. Stay tuned, though. The world of science is as changeable as the weather!
Summary: If you skipped our fun and intricate exploration of borax, here's the scoop: Despite alarming labels, current evidence suggests you'd have to eat a bag of laundry detergent (do NOT do this!) to encounter the negative effects of borax. Studies show that skin contact results in negligible absorption, but direct skin application should still be avoided. While funded by boron manufacturers, research suggests no harmful impacts on workers in boron plants. Finally, natural boron in drinking water appears safe from a non-biased study conducted in Germany. As always, stay informed and keep questioning!
 EU Evidence: https://echa.europa.eu/information-on-chemicals/biocidal-active-substances/-/disas/factsheet/68/PT08
: Study of workers in boric acid plants in Turkey and China: (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0946672X12000685)
: Study on Germans exposed to boron in drinking water: (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/mnfr.202100345)
: Research on topical absorption of boron, carcinogenic effects, and genotoxic effects: (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0273230021000131)