boron 10 is a stable (non-radioactive) element. It is one of over 250 stable metallic isotopes produced by American Elements for biological and biomedical labeling, target materials and other applications.
Boron is a heavy metalloid (an element that has both metallic and nonmetallic properties) and occurs abundantly in the evaporite ores borax and ulexite, both of which can be found in natural terrestrial environments. It is an extremely strong and hard element, weighing 9.3 on the Mohs scale, and can be crystalline or amorphous.
Typical allotropes include boron oxide, boron carbide and boron nitride. These allotropes are soluble in water, alcohol, ethers and acids.
Some boron compounds are absorbed by the human body via the skin or gastrointestinal tract and cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. They may also lead to anorexia, weakness, confusion and hair loss (alopecia).
Most of the health effects of boron exposure are short-term, though long-term intoxication can result in ill-appearing eyes and nose. Exposure to borate dust and fumes is possible in the workplace, and may cause irritation of the respiratory tract and eyes.
The isotopic abundance of boron can vary from 18.4 to 19.9 percent in naturally occurring minerals. This is because the different atoms of the boron isotopes have slightly different physical and chemical properties.
In the nuclear industry, boron 10 and 11 are used in chemical shims in pressurized water reactors and sodium pentaborate in boiling water reactors for backup liquid controllers. They are also used in so-called boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT).
BNCT is based on the nuclear capture and fission of nonradioactive boron 10. When injected into tumors, the boron undergoes a reaction, producing an alpha particle and a recoiling lithium 7. The energy released is absorbed by the tumor cell and results in destruction. BNCT is a promising treatment for brain cancers and tumors, but it has many limitations.