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Opinion on the use of boric acid and borate compounds

Press Release
Media enquiries: ECHA Press

Helsinki, 29 April 2010

ECHA's Committee for Risk Assessment (RAC) has adopted today an opinion on the use of boric acid and borate compounds by consumers in photographic applications.

The opinion concerns the use of the substances by amateur photographers to develop and print their own photographs from films in the darkroom. In its opinion, RAC concluded that the use of these substances does not pose a risk to consumers when no other boron sources are considered.

Other sources of boron which can contribute to the total boron exposure of consumers, include the diet and drinking water. When considering the usual way in which amateur photographers use these substances, such as in fixers and liquid film developer concentrates, the risk is adequately controlled, even when boron exposure via food and drinking water are taken into account.

However, when reasonable worst case assumptions are made about photographic use and other possible sources of boron are included, the risks posed to consumers may not be properly controlled. These situations may arise when film developer solutions are prepared from powder formulations and used for tank or tray processing on the same day.  RAC indicated additional and precautionary measures that could be taken in order to reduce the possible risk to consumers in these situations.

RAC had been requested to evaluate, whether the consumer use of boric acid and borates in photographic applications poses a risk to consumers that is not adequately controlled. Boric acid and borates are reprotoxic substances that can produce effects on both development and fertility.

Further information

  • RAC opinion

  • Role of RAC in EU regulatory processes
    RAC may be requested by the Executive Director of ECHA to draw up an opinion on any aspect of the safety of substances on their own, in preparations or articles. The current request came from the European Commission that is considering whether to allow consumers to use boric acid and borates in photographic applications as a derogation from the general ban for supply to the general public of substances that are classified as carcinogenic, mutagenic or as a reproductive toxicant on their own, or in mixtures. The final decision on the use of such substances will be taken by the European Commission.
  • RAC section on ECHA's website