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Sodium borate overdose

Alternative names

Poisoning from an overdose of sodium borate (borax).

Poisonous Ingredient

Sodium borate

Where Found

  • Antiseptics and astringents
  • Medicated powders
  • Skin lotions
  • Roach powder
  • Some rodent and ant pesticides
  • Photographic agents
  • Some paints
  • Enamels and glazes
  • In making glass fibers
Note: This list may not be all inclusive.


  • Body as a whole
    • Fever
    • Twitching of facial muscles
    • Twitching of arms, hands, legs, feet
    • Convulsions
    • Significantly decreased urine output (or none)
    • Collapse
  • Skin
    • Blisters
    • A bright red skin rash with skin sloughing in 2-3 days
    • Sloughing of skin
  • Gastrointestinal
    • Vomiting -- often blue-green in color
    • Diarrhea
  • Heart and blood vessels
    • Low blood pressure
  • Nervous system
    • Drowsiness
    • Lack of desire to do anything
    • Coma

Home Treatment

If the chemical is on the skin, remove by washing the area thoroughly.

If the chemical was swallowed, contact Poison Control for instructions.

Before Calling Emergency

Determine the following information:
  • The patient's age, weight, and condition
  • The name of the product (ingredients and strengths if known)
  • The time it was swallowed
  • The amount swallowed

Poison Control, or a local emergency number

They will instruct you if it is necessary to take the patient to the hospital. See Poison Control centers for telephone numbers and addresses. Take the container with you to the emergency room.

What to expect at the emergency room

Some or all of the following procedures may be performed:
  • Administer activated charcoal.
  • Use gastric lavage .
  • Give liquids by mouth.
  • Administer dialysis .
  • Treat the symptoms.

Expectations (prognosis)

For infants, the death rate from boric acid poisonings is high.

Update Date: 7/31/2003

Ari Schwell, M.D., Director, Emergency Department of the Episcopal Campus of Temple University Hospital, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT