Acid, and Borates
Borates are used in the fungicide
Tim-bor® and other biocides. A once commonly advertised
product 20 Mule Team BORAX is still available.
is a low-toxicity mineral with insecticidal, fungicidal, and
herbicidal properties. It does not evaporate or volatilize into the air or
pose the considerable health concerns associated with synthetic
pesticides. Boric acid (H3BO3)and
boron containing salts (Borate salts; such as sodium octoborate
the refined forms of borax commonly used in structural pest control. Boric
acid and boron containing salts is borax that has been refined with low
grade acids and allowed to crystallize to form borates.
Use and Mode of Action:
Registered in 1983 for control of cockroaches,
ants, silverfish and
several beetles, it has also been used as an herbicide along rights-of-way
and as a fungicide for citrus, as a wood preservative/fire retardant, and
as an insect repellent in insulation. As an insecticide, boric acid acts
as a stomach poison effecting the insects metabolism, protoplasm and the
dry powder is abrasive to the insects exoskeleton. Various formulations
are registered for use in Alaska to control cockroaches, silverfish and
carpenter ants. As an herbicide, boric acid causes desiccation and
interrupts photosynthesis in plants.
Boric acid may be used either in an insect bait
formulation containing a feed attractant or as a dry powder. The powder
may be injected into cracks and crevices, where it forms a fine layer of
dust. Insects travel through the boric acid dust, which adheres to their
legs. When the insects groom themselves, they then ingest the poison,
which causes death three to ten days later of starvation and dehydration.
As long as the material is not allowed to become wet, its continuous
presence ensures that hatching insects, which insecticide sprays commonly
spare, are exposed and die. Many boric acid formulations can be effective
for more than a year.
While high exposure to boric acid has been linked to adverse
health effects, experts agree that careful application offers a safe and
effective alternative without the indoor air problems associated with
sprays. Boron is a naturally-occurring element in the earth’s crust and
background levels even circulate in the human bloodstream. Boric acid’s
exposure risks are minimal because of its method of
EPA considers boric acid as a moderately acutely toxic
due to eye and skin irritation. In chronic oncogenicity studies using
mice, rats and beagle dogs, boric acid and borax were found not to be
carcinogenic; however, testicular effects and decreases in body weight
resulted at extreme dose levels. EPA has classified boric acid as a “Group
E” carcinogen, indicating that it shows “evidence of noncarcinogenicity”
for humans. In reproductive and developmental toxicity studies using rats,
mice and rabbits, maternal liver and kidney effects and decreased weight
gain as well as decreased fetal body weights were observed. In two
studies, at the highest dose levels, no litters were produced. Prenatal
mortality occurred at the highest dose levels in the rabbit study. Boric
acid does not cause mutagenicity.
Applicators and others in treatment areas may be exposed
to boric acid and its sodium salts during or after application. However,
there is no reasonable expectation that these pesticide uses may
constitute a hazard or risk to people involved in, or near to, handling or
application activities. Proper care and adhering to label directions and
precautions should reduce exposure and any associated risk.
Boric acid is practically nontoxic to birds, fish, aquatic
invertebrates, and relatively nontoxic to beneficial insects. It’s noncrop
herbicidal use may harm endangered or threatened plants, and therefore EPA
is requiring three phytotoxicity studies to assess these risks.
An EPA assessment of a boric acid pilot pest control
program conducted at the U.S. Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland
found that boric acid was both more economical and more effective than a
monthly spray treatment. Do to its unique mode of action, insects do not
gain resistance to borates. It is water resistant, heat resistant and
remains effective for long periods of time. At least one study on german
cockroaches has shown that the combination of heat, 110 degree F for two
hours with boric acid, will increase the speed at which the insect is
killed. Borates are the most effective treatment for many crawling insects
including, cockroaches, silverfish, larder beetles, carpenter ants, and other
wood borers, as well as wood
of Pesticide Information. Washington D.C.
National Coalition Against
the Mis-Use of Pesticides (NCAMP);“Least Toxic Pesticides-Borates” .
Olkowski, W. and S. Daar. 1987. “Boric acid: New
formulations and application equipment.” The IPM Practioner 9(6-7):3-4.
Bio-Integral Resource Center. Berkeley, CA.
Olkowski, W. S. Daar, and
Olkowski, H. 1991. "Common Sense Pest Control." Pp. 112-114. Taunton
Press, Inc. Newtown, CT.
Siegel, E. and S. Wason. 1986. “Boric acid
toxicity.” Pediatric Clinics of North America 33(2):363-367.
Sprague, R. 1972. “The ecological significance of
boron.” U.S. Borax Research Corp. Anaheim, CA.
Disclaimer: This pesticide profile is intended to
provide the reader with basic information about the pesticide. The
information in this article does not in any way replace or supersede the
information on the pesticide product labeling or other regulatory
Some molds are clearly dangerous to your
health. Molds that are considered to be highly toxic or pathogenic
and can cause severe health problems, or even death in some individuals
need the expertise of a scientist. If you are not
sure, seek the advice from our specialist. Some molds
should not even be attempted to be cleaned up by the average homeowner
given the difficulty in removing it and due to the potential exposure
to the toxic mold gases and bulk growth.
NEVER VACUUM MOLD - THE SPORES PASS RIGHT THROUGH
THE VACUUM FILTER SPREADING IT EVERYWHERE!
Treating Surface mold
Chlorine bleach is the often product that kills many but not
Remember that bleach is a strong chemical that should be handled
Wear protective gloves and an appropriate face mask.
Ensure excellent ventilation in the area.
Use bleach manufacture's recommended proportions of water to
Keep the affected area soaked in bleach for 15 minutes.
After you have killed off mold patches, carefully wash down
the entire area with bleach cleanser (see below), rinse thoroughly,
and dry quickly.
Follow manufactures (such as Clorox and
TilexTM )directions as to proportions of bleach to water
mix since as the concentration of bleach varies. Never mix cleaning
chemical because a dangerous compound may be created or a dangerous
chemical reaction may occur.
How to treat whole-house mold
If you find one patch of mold, conduct
a thorough search of your house for others. Kill all the patches
with chlorine bleach and then, using the recommended bleach cleanser,
conduct an old-fashioned, top-to-bottom “spring cleaning” — whatever
Treating Moldy Carpets
Moldy carpets can trap more mold than any other material.
If you have expensive carpet or a large
mold infestation have it cleaned professionally.
DO NOT - DO NOT
VACUUM since most vacuum's will not trap the toxic fungal
spores but will spread them and create a far more hazardous
Basic Mold Cleanup
The key to mold control is
moisture control. It is important to dry water damaged areas and
items within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth. If mold is a problem
in your home, clean up the mold and get rid of the excess water or
moisture. Fix leaky plumbing or other sources of water. Wash mold
off hard surfaces with detergent and water, and dry completely. Absorbent
materials (such as ceiling tiles & carpet) that become moldy
may have to be replaced.
It is very important to remove
the source of moisture first, before beginning remedial action, since
mold growth will return shortly if an effected area becomes re-wetted.
Identify and correct the moisture source
Clean, disinfect, and dry the moldy area
Bag and dispose any material that has moldy residues, such
as rags, paper, leaves, or debris.
What Should I Throw Away?
Materials that are porous
and can trap molds, such as paper, rags, wallboard, and rotten wood
should be decontaminated and thrown away. Other items such as glass,
plastic, or metal can be kept after they are cleaned and disinfected.
Removal of Moldy Materials
Again, fix the source of
moisture and then you can begin clean-up.
Wear gloves when handling moldy materials
Remove porous materials (examples: ceiling tiles, sheet rock,
carpeting, wood products)
Carpeting can be a difficult problem - drying does not remove
the dead spoors. Disposal of the carpet should be considered
Bag and discard the moldy substances
Allow the area to dry 2 or 3 days
If flooded, remove all sheet rock to at
least 12 inches above the high water mark. Visually inspect the
wall interior and remove any other intrusive molds. (This step may
have to be carried out by a licensed contractor).
CAUTION: Spores are easily
released when moldy material is dried out.
Before disinfecting contaminated
areas, clean the areas to remove as much of the mold (and food it
is growing on) as possible.
Wear gloves when doing this cleanup
Use a non-ammonia soap or detergent, or a commercial cleaner,
in hot water, and scrub the entire area affected by the mold
Use a stiff brush or cleaning pad on block walls or uneven
Rinse clean with water. A wet/dry vacuum is handy for this.
Wear gloves when using disinfectants
After thorough cleaning and rinsing, disinfect the area with
a solution of 10% household bleach (e.g., 1 1/2 cup bleach per gallon
of water). Using bleach straight from the bottle will not be more
Never mix bleach with Ammonia - the fumes are toxic
For spraying exterior large areas, a garden hose and nozzle
can be used
When disinfecting a large structure, make sure the entire surface
is wetted (floor, joists, and posts)
Avoid excessive amounts of runoff or standing bleach
Let disinfecting areas dry naturally overnight -- this extended
time is important to kill all the mold.
CAUTION: Bleach fumes can
irritate the eyes, nose, and throat, and damage clothing and shoes.
Make sure the working area is ventilated well.
More Information on Carpeting:
Carpeting presents some additional
challenges in dealing with mold because when it becomes wet, it's
very difficult to dry quickly enough to prevent mold growth.
When possible, carpeting should be lifted so that it and the
floor underneath can dry thoroughly.
To accelerate drying,
you should use fans and dehumidifiers.
When mold growth has started on the carpeting, both the
carpet and the pad must be removed for cleaning and drying.
Pads that contain mildew should be discarded because its nearly
impossible to clean and destroy all the mildew in a pad.
Compared to carpeting, padding is a relatively low cost item.
Most wall-to-wall carpeting is best cleaned by a professional rug
cleaner or restorer.
But if you decide to clean it yourself, the best results will
occur with a carpet that can be removed from the floor.
Apply rug shampoos with carpet shampooing equipment. Follow
the manufacturers directions. Be sure to remove all detergent used
in cleaning because any that's left behind will accelerate future
As was stated earlier, cleaning
moldy carpets and pads is a difficult process, and in many cases,
you'll find it's impossible to save the pad and carpeting and both
end up being discarded.
Can Cleaning up mold be hazardous
to my health?
Exposure to mold can occur
during the cleaning stage. Mold counts are usually higher than background
levels during the cleaning of mold damaged materials. Protect your
health during cleanup and if you are sensitive to mold or cleaning
products/chemicals, consider using a qualified mold remediation contractor.
When handling or cleaning moldy materials, consider using a
mask or respirator to protect you from breathing airborne spores.
Respirators can be purchased from hardware stores; select one for
particle removal (sometimes referred to as a N95 or TC-21C particulate
respirator). Respirators are not as effective removing bleach fumes,
so minimize your exposure when using bleach or other disinfectants.
Wear protective clothing that is easily cleaned or discarded
Use rubber gloves
Try cleaning a small test patch of mold first. If you feel
that this adversely affected your health, you should consider paying
a licensed contractor or professional to carry out the work
Ask family members or bystanders to leave areas when being
Work over short time spans and rest in a fresh air location
Air your house out well during after the work
CAUTION: Never use a gasoline
engine indoors (e.g. pressure washer, generator) -- you could expose
yourself and your family to carbon monoxide.
Can Air Duct Systems become
Contaminated with Mold?
Ventilation and a duct systems
can become contaminated with mold. (CAUTION: older duct systems may
be asbestos insulated.) If your home's air duct system has had water
damage, first identify the type of air duct construction. Sheet metal
systems, or sheet metal with exterior fibrous glass insulation, can
be cleaned and disinfected.
If the system is sheet metal
with an internal fibrous glass liner, or are made entirely of fibrous
glass, the ductwork normally will need to be removed and discarded.
Ductwork in difficult locations may have to be abandoned. If you
have other questions, contact an air duct cleaning professional,
or licensed contractor.
After I've cleaned everything
as thoroughly as possible, can I still have mold odors?
Odors can persist. Continue
to dry out the area and search for any hidden areas of mold. If the
area continues to smell musty, you may have to clean the area again.
Continue drying and ventilating the area. Do not replace flooring
or begin rebuilding until the area has dried completely.
From the Clorox Company
INDOOR MOLD PERVASIVE IN U.S. HOMES,
ACCORDING TO STUDY PRESENTED AT ALLERGY
AND ASTHMA MEETING
~ The Presence of Mold, a Potential Health Problem,
Underestimated by Most ~
DENVER – March 10, 2003 – A new study has
found that mold is pervasive in homes nationwide, thriving in household
sites that are not routinely cleaned and disinfected. The study, which
also measured the home resident’s understanding of the problem, found
that most people underestimated the presence of mold in their homes.
Mold was found in 100% of homes tested.
Results of the University of Arizona study
were presented today at the 60th annual meeting of the American Academy
of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI).
“Mold is flourishing in places that people
tend not to think about when cleaning, as well as in more obvious
places, ” said Kelly Reynolds, Ph.D., University of Arizona Environmental
Research Laboratory. “If the mold is not destroyed by cleaning and
disinfecting, it will continue to grow and exposure levels will mount.”
In the seven-state study, mold was most
prevalent on windowsills, where it was found in 88 percent of the
homes studied. Other common household sites with mold were refrigerator
seals (83 percent of households), the area beneath the kitchen sink
(83 percent) and air vents (82 percent).
Mold was also found at high levels at sites
where people tend to concentrate cleaning efforts such as the bathroom.
Mold was found growing in 49 percent of shower grouts and 50 percent
of the walls above the showers – even though most study participants
(73 percent) realized that mold was most likely to be a problem in the
moist environment of a bathroom.
Although 96 percent of study respondents
realized that mold could cause or aggravate health problems, the
study also showed that they tended to think household mold was somebody
else’s problem. Only 17 percent of participants felt they had mold
problem in their own home, even though mold was found in 100 percent
of the homes tested.
The study did not seek to determine the incidence
of Stachybotrys – commonly referred to as “hidden,” “toxic” or “black”
mold in news reports -- which generally grows behind walls, under stairs,
and beneath ceiling tiles. It is suspected that exposure to this toxic
mold is linked to debilitating symptoms such as lung tissue damage and
memory loss. If the presence of Stachybotrys is suspected, the home
should be checked immediately by a trained professional.
“People need to realize that mold exists
in their home no matter how well they think they clean,” Dr. Reynolds
said. “The greater problem today is not the scary, toxic molds you
read about. Fortunately, black mold problems are rare. Most of us
have more common, allergy-causing molds growing in our homes, which
can be destroyed with regular cleaning with disinfectants.”
What is Mold?
Mold, a fungus that occurs naturally in the environment, becomes a problem when
it colonizes in indoor environments and starts to grow. Moisture, such as
water leaks or condensation, feeds mold growth, and mold spreads to new areas
by releasing microscopic spores that can aggravate symptoms of both allergies
and asthma. In fact, mold spores are suspected in the tripling of the asthma
rate in the past 20 years and have been cited by a 1999 Mayo Clinic study
for nearly all of the chronic sinus infections afflicting 37 million Americans.
“If mold spores are deposited in the lining
of the nose, they can cause hay fever-like symptoms, including sneezing,
itching and congestion,“ said Bill McLin, executive director, Asthma
and Allergy Foundation of America. “If these spores reach the lungs,
they have the potential to trigger asthma.”
How to Decrease Mold in the Home
According to AAFA, there are steps people can take to help reduce mold
growth throughout the home:
Keep Humidity below 40%
Use an air conditioner or dehumidifier during humid months
Make sure your home has adequate ventilation
Dry any water leak within 24 hours
Do not carpet bathrooms and basements
Get rid of mold materials immediately, once they’re found
Clean hard surfaces regularly with products certified to kill
mold. Allergy or asthma sufferers should ask nonsensitive people
to apply cleaning products.
Mold must be killed and removed from the surface.
Soap and water or detergents remove only mold stains, but can leave
mold spores behind. Those remaining spores, which are often invisible
to the naked eye, are then able to re-colonize. To decrease mold in
homes, use a product like Tilex Mold and Mildew Remover, which is registered
to kill and remove 99.9 percent of common household molds.
Because of the potential sensitivities
of allergy and asthma sufferers to cleaning products, cleaning should
be done by nonsensitive individuals and the area should be allowed
to ventilate before reentry. Always read and follow all precautions
and usage directions before using cleaning products.
The study was conducted in a total of 160 homes in seven U.S. cities -- Chicago,
Tampa, Atlanta, Tucson, San Francisco, New York and Dallas. Surface samples from
the homes were examined microscopically for a range of different molds. Study
samples were taken from accessible areas; therefore the study does not assess
the prevalence of hidden mold. Homes in Dallas and New York had the highest rates
of mold-infested sites, while Tampa households had the lowest rate. The study
was funded by an educational grant from The Clorox Company.
The Clorox Company
The Clorox Company is a leading manufacturer and marketer of consumer
products with fiscal year 2002 revenues of $4.0 billion. Clorox markets
some of consumers’ most trusted and recognized brand names, including
its namesake bleach and cleaning products, Armor All® and STP® auto
care products, Fresh Step® and Scoop Away® cat litters, Kingsford® charcoal
briquets, Hidden Valley® and K C Masterpiece® dressings and sauces,
and Glad® bags, wraps and containers. With 9,500 employees worldwide,
the company manufactures products in 25 countries and markets them in
more than 100 countries. Founded in 1980, The Clorox Company Foundation
has awarded grants totaling more than $51 million to nonprofit organizations,
schools and colleges, and in 2001-2002 made product donations valued
at nearly $5 million. For more information about Clorox, visit the company’s
Web site at www.clorox.com.