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Global slime craze sparks safety warnings after borax blamed for burns

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Parents say prolonged exposure to cleaning product may have caused burns although US authority says it is generally safe

A global slime-making craze sparked by social media has prompted safety concerns over the use of the cleaning product borax.

Also known as sodium borate, borax has a range of household uses including as an insecticide, a stain remover and a deodoriser. It is also a pivotal ingredient of home-made slime, a perennial art or science project in which it is mixed with water, glue and food colouring.

Slime has recently undergone a global resurgence, with Google searches climbing steadily in the past 12 months and accelerating this year.

In February, Elmers Glue said an increase in sales in the US in the second half of 2016 were due in large part to slime mania and, in March, Today reported that schools around the US had banned slime for being too distracting and messy.

puppy (@jjonganonymous)

lmao my step sister just got yelled at for using all the borax to make her slime eisidksoixndmdmdmd

April 30, 2017

Parker (@_parkerhope_)

Whoever figured out that adding borax to glue makes slime is brilliant

April 24, 2017

lil doggies (@owlbard)

does anyone actually use borax for laundry. or does the company know people only use their product for slime

April 15, 2017

Borax, a naturally occurring mineral, is also a mild irritant and there have been concerns over childrens safety following reports of it inducing burns.

An 11-year-old girl in Rockland, Massachusetts, suffered second and third-degree burns to her hands that were attributed to prolonged exposure to borax after making slime every day for several months.

I love it, a lot, the girl told local news media of slime in March. Dont make it, dont play with it.

In February, a Manchester woman posted photos of chemical burns on her daughters hands on Facebook as a warning to other parents. It was shared 820 times.

My little Queen has been making slime off YouTube … 3 weeks later we are looking at plastic surgery on her hands from a burns department at Hospital, she wrote.

According to the non-profit, non-partisan Environmental Working Group, borax can have short and long-term health effects, with irritation possible following skin or eye contact, inhalation or ingestion.

In the long term, it may disrupt hormones and harm the male reproductive system, with chronic exposure to high doses of borax linked to a greater risk of decreased sperm count and libido.

Kate Copping of Melbourne told Guardian Australia her 10-year-old daughter, Daisy, started making slime about six months ago after having come across it on YouTube.

She has been making it nonstop. We are going to buy glue constantly.

Copping said borax was kind of like a poison but said nothing had worked so well to produce high-quality slime.

We tried a few different things. In the end I gave in and bought the borax.

Copping said the craze was popular among Daisys school friends but she realised it was a worldwide phenomenon only after she vented her frustration with the messy fad on Facebook.

Ive got a friend in Scotland whos like Im so sick of it, friends in the US saying the same thing its going crazy everywhere, she said. Ive heard at some schools, kids are making it and selling it in the playground.

Anecdotal reports suggested that several branches of the Australian hardware store Bunnings had sold out of borax, which retails for A$9.40 for a 1kg tub.

Its Cairns store held a slime-making DIY workshop with Naomi in aisle 38 in early April describing mixing glue and borax as a great way to keep the kids entertained.

A spokeswoman for Bunnings said it was against company policy to comment on product sales.

The craze has been facilitated by social media, with 4.2m results for slime tutorial on YouTube. One video has been viewed 10.1m times since it was posted on YouTube on 4 March.

There are 2.8m posts hashtagged #slime on Instagram, and several dedicated accounts @slimequeeens kinda satisfying slime videos have been followed by 864,000 people since its first post in June. It also sells slime through an online marketplace.

A 15-year-old slime creator followed by 524,000 people told New York Magazines Select All in April that she spent more than 20 hours a week making slime, in between school and homework: The only reason I sell slime is so I can make more slime.

Creative spins on the original recipe of borax and glue, achieving different effects, textures and consistencies such as MAGICAL UNICORN SLIME with glitter or Kawaii Coffee Slime with REAL Coffee abound online.

syd (@stumbledthedark)

making a huge batch of new banana cream slime

April 30, 2017

But most experimentation in the online slime community has been with a view to perfecting the holy grail: borax-free slime.

Alternative recipes that do not contain borax, using contact lens solution, hand sanitiser, liquid starch, shaving foam and even butter, have been widely shared online.

But Dr Kyran Quinlan, the chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention, told Good Housekeeping that borax was generally safe.

The craze had reached his own family, he said: I love that kids are having fun with slime … We have some newly made slime at the house now, thanks to one of the kids.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/may/01/global-slime-craze-sparks-safety-warnings-after-borax-blamed-for-burns

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