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    Because of the high pKa of boric acid, inorganic borates, when taken up by the human or animal organism, exist in the body almost exclusively in the form of non-dissociated boric acid. Therefore, the variety of inorganic boron compounds is commonly addressed in the toxicological literature as "boron" (B). There is a discussion concerning categorisation of inorganic boron compounds as reproductive toxins. Boron treatment of rats, mice and dogs was dose-dependently associated with testicular toxicity, characterised by inhibited spermiation at lower dose levels and by reduction of epididymal sperm counts at higher dose levels. The NOAEL for such fertility effects of boric acid in male rats (oral feeding, Sprague Dawley strain) was evaluated to be 17.5 mg B/kg bw per day. As far as developmental toxicity is concerned, oral dosing of 9.6 mg B/kg bw daily to female pregnant Sprague Dawley rats remained without effects, with foetal skeletal effects observed at higher doses. Therefore, 9.6 mg B/kg bw (oral dosing) was evaluated as NOAEL for developmental effects of boric acid. The blood level in rats, equivalent to this NOAEL, is 1270 ng B/g. As far as B-exposed humans are concerned, field studies on the effect of boron on human reproduction are possible only in a few boron-rich geographical areas. Published field studies were conducted in China's Liaoning province, the Argentinian Andes and Western Anatolia/Turkey. Particularly relevant are studies on occupationally B-exposed groups, because the potential exposure to boron is much higher in occupational compared to environmental settings. Comparison of estimated daily B exposure levels in humans and actually measured B blood levels confirms the preference of biomonitoring for exposure assessment in environmental and occupational studies. A boron blood level scaling shows that the levels of high occupational B exposures reported in China and in Turkey are compatible. Compared to the experimental B blood levels at boron-related NOAELs for male fertility and for developmental toxicity in rats, the human blood level means of the highest occupational exposure groups in China and in Turkey are lower by factors of > 4 and > 2, respectively. Basically, concentrations of B within the body that exert reproductive toxicity in humans are not reached under the conditions of human normal handling and use, including conditions of extreme occupational exposures. In consequence, all relevant results of studies into human reproductive toxicity of B are basically negative. Considering the effective doses, there is no scientific contradiction between experimental and human results of B reproductive toxicity.


    Hermann M Bolt, Nurşen Başaran, Yalçin Duydu. Effects of boron compounds on human reproduction. Archives of toxicology. 2020 Mar;94(3):717-724

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    PMID: 32170343

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