This paper reviews some of the many biological applications of borates. Boron is a ubiquitous element found widely distributed in the environment and is a normal component of a healthy diet. Elemental boron does not exist in nature, but is always found combined with oxygen in compounds called borates. Boron is an essential micronutrient for plants, and there is evidence to suggest that boron is of nutritional importance, if not essential, for humans. Borates possess biostatic activity which enabled their use in medicine and has allowed their continued development as preservatives.
The essentiality of boron in plants has led to extensive biological use in agriculture. The biostatic properties at high doses have enabled their use in biodeterioration control, against insects, fungi, algae and bacteria. Some use is currently being made of borates for insect control in the home.
The application of borates to crops, to alleviate boron deficiency, has resulted in recognized increases in quality and yield. Consideration of the relative safety and effectiveness of borates as biocides, is expected to lead to an increase in the use of these products in the future.