Boron Trichloride – EPA Regulatory Information
Boron trichloride is an inorganic substance with the chemical formula BCl₃. This invisible colorless gas is an active reagent in biochemical synthesis. It’s very reactive toward water. As such, it’s also used to prevent oxidation of organic substances at the molecular level, and prevents damage to DNA by hydrophobic molecules (those that have a negative hydrogen bonding). It’s also been shown to inhibit the formation of the herpes simplex virus. However, some scientists are concerned about the health hazards of this substance, particularly its effects on neurological systems.
Boron trichloride reacts violently with water when it comes in contact with it. When exposed to it, people become ill in large numbers. The symptoms caused by exposure vary according to
the degree of exposure. First and even second-degree exposure causes burning and stinging sensations; more severe levels may result in loss of consciousness, coma, or death.
reported side effects
The most commonly reported side effects are headache, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. But these symptoms only develop after long and extensive periods of exposure to the chemical. It has long been known that chronic exposure to this chemical can cause serious health problems, especially in developing children. One reason for this is that boron trichloride interferes with cellular respiration, a process by which energy is released from food through the process of breathing. In fact, one major function of the respiratory system is to keep accumulated waste products from entering the lungs and cause harm. The link between boron trichloride and respiratory health has only recently been revealed.
Exposure to boron trichloride, either through inhalation, dermal absorption, or ingestion, can affect various parts of the body. The skin, respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract, and reproductive organs are the most commonly affected. Symptoms produced by long-term exposure include irritation of the eyes (especially when the substance comes in contact with the eye surface) and the nose, irritation of the throat, stomach, and esophagus, itching, dizziness, headaches, diarrhea, and difficulty swallowing. Some people may not experience any symptoms at all, while others will experience all of them at least occasionally.
Boron trichloride causes severe skin burns when it gets in contact with human skin. When the substance comes in contact with an open wound, the chemical rapidly enters the bloodstream and the possibility of serious burn damage is high. Once inside the blood stream, boron trichloride combines with other toxins produced by bacteria in the body to form what is called a “free radical”. Once this happens, the chemical becomes very reactive and changes the genetic makeup of living organisms.
The substance has been found in soil and rocks. This means that humans have been exposed to the dangerous effects of boron trichloride for thousands of years. While the concentration in drinking water is typically much lower than what would be found in natural soils, it is possible to take a supplement that contains the gas to avoid exposure to the element in the food that you eat. Unfortunately, elemental boron cannot be absorbed through the pores of the skin, making supplements necessary. For this reason, boric acid is often used as a dietary supplement.
elemental boron trichloride
The problem with elemental boron trichloride, however, is that the substance is very reactive when it comes into contact with certain chemicals. To illustrate, one of the best ways to protect your body from this corrosive chemical is to wear a special type of protective gear called PPE. Properly designed PPE includes a tight-fitting cover over the user’s clothing and body while at the same time providing the chemical-resistant layer on the skin. Other solutions are to wear specially made clothing that is made from breathable material like cotton, wool, or silk. Boron can also be protected by wearing copper bracelets or copper jewelry. Some doctors recommend that PPE be worn under heavy-duty protective clothing to provide additional protection against the gas.
The EPA has placed strict regulations on the levels of this chemical that are present in publicly treated streams. They have set a maximum contaminant level (MCL) based on the contaminant concentration of the water in the stream. They also recommend that treatment centers monitor both the MCL and the treatment levels to ensure compliance. Treatment centers are required to remove any excess boron trichloride in water that has been analyzed. They are also required to remove this gas from all publicly treated resources that are for sale to consumers.