Boric acid is an inorganic acid which is mainly available as white odorless powder in crystalline form. It dissolves easily in water. This naturally occurring compound is made up of boron, oxygen and hydrogen. Its chemical formula is H3 BO3. Boric acid and its salt are present in many pesticide products. These products are used to control and kill different types of pests which include algae, fungi, weeds, mites, insects etc.
The products that contain boric acid are available as liquids, powder, pellets etc. Being a mild pesticide, boric acid can kill insects and fungi when they eat it.It can affect the stomach and nervous system of the insect. Although beneficial as a pesticide, accidental exposure can be poisonous for human beings. The toxicity may depend on the amount of boron present in boric acid and its sodium salts.
Signs And Symptoms Of Boric Acid Poisoning
Boric acid has low toxic effect in humans. The toxic symptoms are manifested after accidental ingestion or if the skin comes in contact with boric acid. In the past boric acid powder was often used as a disinfecting agent for treating an open wound. The skin wound that was treated for long duration of time repeatedly with it often developed boric acid poisoning symptoms.However, with advent of antibiotic ointments no one uses boric acid for skin dressing. People who have ingested boric acid may develop symptoms which include:
- Vomiting: The vomiting can be blue green in color. In the initial stage the person may have nauseous feeling.
- Diarrhea: Patient may have recurrent episodes of loose watery stools. It is severe in frequency and patient finds difficulty to hold the bowel movement. He often spoils his clothes. Along with diarrhea patient always complains of pain in abdomen as well as a feeling of bloating.
- Dehydration: Frequent loose stools cause loss of fluid from the body. It leads to dry tongue, dry skin, wrinkling of skin, tiredness, increased thirst, dizziness and other symptoms of dehydration.
- Skin rash: Severe toxic symptom includes skin rash. The patient may develop red skin patches all over the body. Skin peeling and blisters are other signs of skin rash.
- Muscle contraction: Boric acid poisoning can produce involuntary twitching and contraction of muscles of hands and legs. In severe cases patient may develop seizures and loss of consciousness.
- Fever: Patient may have raised body temperature with flushing of skin and headache. He may often feel drowsy.
Treatment Of Boric Acid Poisoning
Just like any other case of poisoning patient needs to be treated in emergency. However, some of the measures can be taken at home. For example if boric acid is on the skin, wash the area thoroughly with water. If boric acid has come in contact with eyes, wash then with cold water for ten to fifteen minutes. This measure will wash off the remnant chemical present in the area.
In the medical emergency room patient’s vital signs will be monitored carefully. This may include pulse, blood pressure, respiratory rate, temperature etc. At the same the doctor will also recommend for certain blood tests and radiological examination.
Patient may be supported with artificial oxygen. Intravenous fluids may be given to prevent dehydration. Medicines are also administered to prevent infection in lungs.