Ottawa announces re-evaluation of pesticides with boric acid

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The Government of Canada has published a final pesticide re-evaluation decision for boric acid, a naturally occurring substance that is commonly used in a wide range of pesticide products in Canada to control insects and fungi.

Boric acid, sometimes also called boron or borax, is found in the environment and Canadians are exposed to it naturally through food (such as fruit and vegetables) and drinking water. Canadians can also be exposed to boric acid through a variety of commonly used products, such as pesticides, cleaning products, homemade arts and craft materials, cosmetics, swimming pool and spa chemicals, and drugs and natural health products. While low levels of exposure to boric acid are not considered to be a health risk, overexposure to boric acid has the potential to cause developmental and reproductive health effects. The concern is not with any one product, but rather multiple exposures from a variety of sources.

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Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, said“Even natural ingredients like boric acid can pose a risk to Canadians. That’s why Health Canada looks at all pesticide ingredients to make sure we are not being exposed to levels that could be a concern. These steps, including cancelling some registrations and introducing new, more stringent label requirements for others, are science-based interventions that will help protect Canadians.”

A number of pesticide products that contain boric acid for use in and around the home will have their registrations cancelled and be phased out of the marketplace. These are products in powder form or other formats, where there is a potential risk of overexposure for Canadians. Some other boric acid pesticide uses will continue to be registered in Canada, but they will include new, stronger label requirements to better protect the health of Canadians. A list of the affected products can be found on Health Canada’s website.

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The Government of Canada is also conducting a broader review of boric acid under the Chemicals Management Plan and has published a draft risk assessment for input from Canadians. Based on the draft risk assessment’s finding, Health Canada is advising Canadians to avoid using boric acid for arts and crafts projects, such as homemade slime, or modelling clay. Health Canada is also advising against making homemade pesticides with boric acid.

Quick Facts

  • Registered pesticides regularly undergo re-evaluations to ensure that they continue to meet modern standards for human health and environmental protection and provide value. Re-evaluations are based on a rigorous scientific assessment of available information.
  • To check for the most up to date safety information for pesticide products, download Health Canada’s pesticide label search app.
  • In total, there are 110 pesticide products registered for use in Canada containing boric acid. Of those, 25 will have their registrations cancelled while the remaining 85 will have to meet new labelling requirements no later than 24 months from the date of this final decision. – CINEWS
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