One Large Pie – Hold the Borax Ant Poison

One Large Pie – Hold the Borax Ant Poison

One Large Pie – Hold the Ant Poison | Adorable, jealous lady tries attempted homicide as a means to hold onto her man

Emily Nicole Powell of Greenbrier, West Virginia (kinda surprised its not Florida this time) poisoned her boyfriend with borax ant poison by putting a drop of it on his pizza. Her motive? Jealousy. She reports saying “I wanted to see him suffer a little,” when she suspected that he was in contact with an old girlfriend.

One Large Pie - Hold the Ant Poison

Terro borax-based liquid ant poison

One Large Pie - Hold the Ant Poison

Pizza – a delicious and convenient vehicle for hiding a poison!

If Emily could do this to someone she (presumably) loved, guess it would be a good time for the old girlfriend to change the locks on her house. According to news reports, the poisoned boyfriend saw a search for “how toxic is clear liquid ant killer?” on Powell’s phone. The type of clear liquid ant killer that Powell used to poison the boyfriend contained 5.40% Sodium Tetraborate Decahydrate (also called borax) which is lucky for him, because all he faced was some abdominal cramping and a few hours of non-stop vomiting. Pretty typical for borax ingestion – could’ve been a lot worse.

Ok – so what is borax? Its a naturally occurring boron (atomic number 5)-based compound. Powdered borax consists of white crystals that dissolve easily in water. It is found easily in dry lake beds all over the world including Nevada and California, making it cheap and plentiful. When combined with hydrochloric acid, borax forms boric acid (borate). borax has a relatively low toxicity against mammals, although ingestion of 5 to 10 g by young children can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea, shock and death and effects from ingestion include abdominal pain, diarrhea, headache, nausea, vomiting, weakness and convulsions.

One Large Pie - Hold the Ant Poison

Boric acid based insecticide

Acute oral ingestion of 2 to 20 grams or more of boric acid can result in symptoms that include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, depression of the central nervous sytsem, and convulsions. Subacute or chronic doses of boric acid may result in signs and symptoms including dermatitis, loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting. In the occupational setting, exposures to airborne boric acid and borax dusts have been shown to be irritating to the respiratory tract and the eyes of workers. These symptoms for both acute and chronic exposures, include eye irritation; dryness of mouth, nose, or throat; sore throat; and productive cough. Fatal doses for humans are variously estimated to be 5 to 6 g for children and 10 to 25 g for adults.

Numerous studies have shown that boric acid and borax are absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and from the respiratory tract, as indicated by increased levels of boron in the blood, tissues, or urine or by systemic toxic effects of exposed individuals or laboratory animals. Clearance of boron compounds is similar in humans and animals.  Elimination of borates from the blood is largely by excretion of >90% of the administered dose via the urine, regardless of the route of administration. Excretion is relatively rapid, occurring over a period of a few to several days, with a half-life of elimination of 24 hours or less. The kinetics of elimination of boron have been evaluated in human volunteers given boric acid via the intravenous and oral routes.

How hungry would a student have to be in order to volunteer to be given boric acid via the intravenous route?!

Absorption is poor through intact skin but is much greater through damaged skin. Several other studies applied low concentration borax to the skin of volunteers and covered it with an occlusive dressing – all the volunteers developed blisters and irritation after 21 days of continued exposure.

The boyfriend was extremely lucky because I’m pretty sure Emily Powell has no idea how many grams are in a drop of liquid borax ant poison and she easily could’ve killed or seriously injured her boyfriend. A real prosecutor would charge her with attempted, premeditated murder. It’s been my experience that prosecutors will weasel out and drop the charges to some ridiculous lesser charge.

One Large Pie - Hold the Ant Poison

Agent Orange herbicide spraying

While I was in Denver, we were contacted by the sheriff’s department because a fireman had convinced his teenage son to steal some of his estranged wife’s medication and bring it to him. He doctored the pills with 2,4-D, the active ingredient in Agent Orange. He instructed the teenager to replace the pills in his mother’s pill bottle, but thankfully the teenager told his mother about her ex-husband’s plot and she took the doctored pills to the police, who tested them and discovered the alien chemical. The DA wanted our help to figure out if the amount of 2,4-D in the pills would’ve been enough to kill the woman. My response was “Are you kidding?! How should I know what her reaction to the pills would be? She might’ve developed an unusual reaction to the 2,4-D in the pills and died. If I can’t say for sure that the doctored pills wouldn’t have killed her, how could her idiot, murderous ex-husband?!”

The Denver DA decided to charge him with attempted assault. I think he pled guilty to a speeding ticket.


Since this blog post is about ants and I’m not sure when I might get the chance to use this  ever again, here is an incredible video of the smallest jewel thief –


One Large Pie - Hold the Ant Poison

Always wear a helmet – safety first!

Written by Poison Boy

Gerry O'Malley (a.k.a Poison Boy) is a board certified ER doctor and toxicologist with a interest in the unusual, terrifying and occasionally hilarious world of poisonings and toxicology. This site is an exploration of poisons of historical interest as well as in current events and pop culture.

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