Tue, May 02, 2017 - Page 6 News List

Amid slime craze, warnings over borax

The Guardian

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 deodorizer. 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 coloring.

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

In February, Elmer’s Glue said an increase in sales in the US in the second half of last year were “due in large part to slime mania” and, in March, the Today show reported that schools around the US had banned slime for being “too distracting” and messy.

Borax, a naturally occurring mineral, is also a mild irritant and there have been concerns over children’s 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. “Don’t make it, don’t play with it.”

In February, a Manchester, England, woman posted photographss of chemical burns on her daughter’s 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 in the US, 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 that 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.

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

Copping said the craze was popular among Daisy’s school friends, but she realized it was a worldwide phenomenon only after she vented her frustration with the messy fad on Facebook.

“I’ve got a friend in Scotland who’s like ‘I’m so sick of it, friends in the US saying the same thing — it’s going crazy everywhere,” she said. “I’ve heard at some schools, kids are making it and selling it in the playground.”

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

There are 2.8 million 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 last year. It also sells slime through an online marketplace.

A 15-year-old slime creator followed by 524,000 people told New York Magazine’s “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.”

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