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CHECK THE LABEL: ​A Pox on Borax

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A Pox on Borax

I generally hate all kinds of pests, but there are a select few that really take the cake for me. In order from worse to worst, my most hated pests are: spiders, mosquitoes, and cockroaches. But there is one pest that I abhor more than a cockroach. And that is a FLYING cockroach! As we say here in the Philippines, Walang macho sa lumilipad na ipis! (There’s no such thing as a tough guy when faced with a flying cockroach!)

I bet that you, like me, have tried every conceivable thing to get rid of cockroaches. We’ve all tried spraying them with a can of Raid, drowning them in water, and perhaps even squirting some good ol’ rubbing alcohol on them (which is my personal favorite). Here in the Philippines, on the other hand, we simply go to war with these freaks of nature and face our fears with our most trusted tsinelas or slippers on one hand, ready to swing a deathblow with all our might. However, I heard that there has been an age-old method used to get rid of these creepy critters for good. That method is through the use of boric acid or Borax.

Boric acid is a naturally occurring form of the chemical boron found in rocks, plants, and water sources. It has been used for centuries, dating all the way back to the ancient Greeks. Some of its uses include treating minor eye as well as vaginal infections. But its most common use is to treat for pests such as ants, cockroaches, and termites. It can be present in the form of liquids, granules, pellets, tablets, wettable powders, dusts, rods, or baits. And it can be found in almost anything: antiseptics and astringents, medicated powders, skin lotions, some eye wash products, personal care products, mouthwashes, skin ointments, hemorrhoidal suppositories, processed food, household cleaners, laundry detergents, soil amendments, fertilizers, and photography chemicals, enamels and glazes, glass fiber manufacturing, some paints, some rodent and ant pesticides. Lastly, it is being used in the recent craze to make homemade slime, which is a combination of water, white glue, and Borax.

Though it has been used for centuries, and is found in almost all items in every household, still only a handful of the population are aware of its side effects and health hazards. Minor symptoms and side effects include the following: blisters, sloughing of skin, hives, skin inflammation, bright red rash on the skin, skin rash, skin loss, dry mouth, nose, and throat, coughing, sore throat, nose bleeds, reddened eyes, reddened tongue and cracked lips, and patchy areas of hair loss. The infected can also experience drowsiness, fever, twitching of facial muscles, arms, hands, legs, and feet, irritability, headaches and depression, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and stomach aches.

Unfortunately, the list does not stop there. Severe cases can show signs of bluish green vomit, significantly decreased urine output (or none), muscle weakness and headaches, decreased blood pressure, increased heart rate, kidney failure, shortness of breath, swelling of the airways, collapse, seizures, convulsions, and coma.

Borax also has “developmental and reproductive health effects” in children and pregnant women. In fact, babies frequently treated for diaper rash with boric acid solutions or powders experience swollen genitals. And to make matters worse, infants are left defenseless against a number of birth defects such as abnormal postures, convulsions, confusion, and even coma when exposed to high levels of boric acid.

Worst of all, it is found that boric acid can be stored in bone and is generally found at lower levels in fatty tissues. Majority of boric acid stays in the body for as long as four days until it is eliminated in the urine. There is no evidence that boric acid is broken down in the body, and there is no antidote for boric acid poisoning, which means that death may occur as a result.

If this is the case, I think I would rather find other means of killing those pesky roaches lest I end up killing myself in the end since they say that these vermin can even survive a nuclear explosion. If cockroaches have been walking the earth for at least 300 million years, then the least I could do to catch up with its evolution is to choose better, more eco-friendly methods of taking care of household pests. There’s just no sense in using something like Borax to try and kill them when the very same thing ends up killing me in the end, knowing that these bugs will most probably outlive me by a few more hundred million years.










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