Mothballs have been banned in many countries, including Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Japan, because of the health risks associated with exposure to formaldehyde gas. The use of mothballs has been linked to formaldehyde toxicity, chronic coughs, sore throats, wheezing, and throat pain. Although formaldehyde is a naturally occurring chemical in many fruits and vegetables, you can also make it synthetically in factories.
Mothballs are substances put into a container to suffocate or kill insects. It is made from a type of oil, or bitumen, which is then treated with formaldehyde. This treatment allows the product to release toxic fumes upon contact. They are used in homes to kill bed bugs and cockroaches.
They are dangerous because they are designed to give off toxic fumes that can damage the eyes and lungs upon contact. This can lead to rashes, other skin irritations, nausea, headaches, and vomiting. In some cases, people who have been exposed to mothballs have developed asthma-like symptoms or even life-threatening breathing problems. Some examples of symptoms include:
The amount of time it takes for the symptoms to develop depends on the dose, the type of treatment used on the mothballs, how much time is spent around them, and the air quality (how clean or polluted it is).
Long-term mothball exposure has been shown to cause cancer in mice and rats. Mothballs have also been shown to have adverse effects on sperm, hormones, and nervous systems—especially in children exposed closer to puberty. In addition, since mothballs are flammable, they are not safe for use around food or other hot surfaces.
While many cases of poisoning are not fatal, the exposed people experience long-term health problems and continue to suffer from the effects of formaldehyde-related diseases as they age. The average American has a lifetime exposure risk of 1 in every 100 and a lifetime risk of 2 in every 100 from formaldehyde inhalation alone.
The most prevalent form of poisoning from mothballs is sensitivity to formaldehyde. These people have experienced long-term health issues, including breathing problems that persist even after the mothball washes off. More than 200 different health symptoms are associated with formaldehyde toxicity, including chronic and ongoing breathing difficulties, salivary gland swelling, nausea, and hives.
Some companies have been accused of deceptively replacing their products with less harmful alternatives. For example, some mothballs are returned in the US with cedar oil and other options containing high carcinogen phenol levels.
Several countries have banned formaldehyde, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Japan. Although mothballs are still legal in their countries, some stores have been accused of selling them as health products to avoid being prosecuted for selling hazardous goods.
Though most companies ban the sale of their harmful products to avoid legal action, this is not always the case. In addition, although some companies may stop selling toxic products once they are banned in many states and countries around the world, they may continue to produce and sell other dangerous chemicals that they are allowed to sell. This makes it difficult for consumers to know which companies are making changes to reduce their harmfulness and which ones are not.
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Until recently, mothballs were sold in the US, Canada, and Japan. However, in 2005, Canada became the first country to ban most forms of mothballs, eliminating them from stores. The US banned most of its forms of mothballs in 2007 and enforced Japan’s ban in 2010.
Some people have decided to try to use other products meant to control pests, such as termites, rather than mothballs. Unfortunately, termites cannot tolerate the harmful chemicals used in pest control products. In addition, toxic chemicals can be detrimental to humans and animals that live near them.
Some of these animals include birds, amphibians, and turtles, which are highly sensitive to the harmful chemicals in these products. The chemicals used in termite control products include methyl parathion, Amidon, ULV granules, and arsenic.
The proliferation of pesticides has increased the number of people exposed to them and led to unprecedented pesticide poisoning rates. In addition, many of the effects that have been linked with pesticide exposure have been described by the medical community. For example:
Chronic effects of poisoning include nervous system disorders, skin disorders, weakness, liver damage, and problems with reproduction. One common problem many people have experienced due to pesticide exposure is sensitivity to the chemical, mainly when used in a mixture. Many common pesticides and mothballs can cause this effect, with mothballs being the most dangerous. Because of this, some people try to avoid products containing harmful chemicals whenever possible.
Type of mothballs?
Mothballs may have very different uses and are commonly found in a variety of products around the home. Moth balls are also used in construction, such as in drywall, insulation, and siding. The toxic effects of mothballs, along with other products that can be harmful, are why they are being phased out in many countries. Some types of mothballs include:
- Amiton methyl parathion.
When you hear the phrase “mothball,” what images do you conjure up in your head? What ideas do you have right now? If you’re like most people, you think of those little white balls that smell like the inside of a closet when locked. However, mothballs are much more than this when it comes to the chemical and toxic effects of mothballs.
They have been used as insect repellants for years on various products, such as upholstery, clothing, shoes, paper, and wood. Mothballs contain a chemical called naphthalene. The only way it’s safe for humans is if you do not inhale it or allow it to come into contact with your skin or eyes. Mothballs are highly poisonous if you ingest them by accident.
Mothballs are harmful in a variety of ways. Although they protect things like food and clothing by repelling insects and rodents, they also emit toxic fumes that can be harmful when exposed to humans. These fumes come from the naphthalene that is used to make mothballs. In addition to being harmful to humans, mothballs may also endanger the environment.
The potential effects on wildlife and plant life can negatively affect the ecosystem. Insects are not the only animals affected by mothballs; larger animals such as birds, amphibians, and turtles can also become poisoned by these dangerous chemicals.
Mothballs are not the only products being phased out; similar products such as DNT, a home fumigant, and Rymar TC, which prevents mold growth in construction materials, are also being removed from stores.
Some mothballs may come in different forms or varieties. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize this since they look very similar to one another. One of these forms is made from naphthalene crystals, which are often used by people who make campfires to keep their wood dry while they travel; they are also prevalent among hunters, who use them to keep their animal carcasses safe from insects and decay. Naphthalene is also sometimes used in paint, as a mordant, and to make mothproof zippers.
Naphthalene is very toxic to both humans and animals. As mentioned in the previous section, it is classified as a white solid, emitting a poisonous fume when air or sunlight is exposed. This can be harmful or even fatal to people and the environment if the fumes get into their eyes, mouth, or nose. Naphthalene can also be toxic to humans when it comes into contact with their skin; many people get skin irritation and allergic reactions.
Naphthalenes are widely dispersed in the environment, although it is legal for some industries to use them. They are also found in various materials, such as paints, plastics, and thousands of other products people use daily. If a person is exposed to these naphthalene products by accident or by inhaling them, they may have an extreme reaction.
Symptoms include coughing, wheezing, nausea, and skin irritation. This can be fatal if you inhale too much naphthalene or start to feel ill after going through an area heavily contaminated with naphthalene and other unidentifiable chemicals.
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What are mothballs used for?
Mothballs can be used to make your home smell nice, but there are a lot of other uses for mothballs that you might not know. Here’s a list of what mothballs is used for and things you can use mothballs to create:
- Make your hair shiny and healthy by rubbing moth balls on your scalp before shampooing.
- Lubricate wooden furniture with a mix of one part each of soap flakes and aloe vera gel, then sprinkle with lavender mothballs or dried herbs. To dry the herbs, put them in an oven set at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes or so, or drape them over your clothesline if it’s raining outside.
- Add mothballs to your socks and wear them to keep your feet warm.
- Pluck pet hair from your furniture using a pair of tweezers, then sprinkle it with mothballs or dried herbs to keep bugs away.
- Use mothballs to clean dishes by mixing them with baking soda in a small container and dipping a sponge into the mixture. Scrub away!
- Use a drinking straw to make a mothball snowman.
- Rub mothballs on your feet to help relieve swelling, aches, and pains caused by exercise or standing too long.
- Use mothballs to keep spiders from building webs in your home by placing them near corners, window sills, and door jambs.
- Use mothballs for odor control in the garage by putting them under a running car or truck for about an hour before turning off the vehicle to let it air out overnight.
- Clean permanent marker off walls with a mix of water and toothpaste, followed by a rubdown with mothballs.
- Use mothballs in your vacuum cleaner to keep it fresh. Just add the balls when you’re done vacuuming for the day, then turn on your machine the next morning to let them air out overnight.
- Add dried lavender or other herbs to a cotton ball and place it in a small plastic bag along with several moth balls for making potpourri sachets.
- Place mothballs under the seats of your car or truck to eliminate cigarette smoke.
- Soak a rag in white vinegar and rub it on the silver to make it shine, then add mothballs to the rag to deter tarnish.
- Rub lavender mothballs on your pillows at night to calm your nerves and help you sleep.
- Rub dried herbs along the directions on mothballs to repel mice, squirrels, or other pests from infesting your home or car.
- Mothballs can also be used for fishing by sprinkling them into ponds or lakes where fish congregate for feeding.
- Use mothballs as a natural deodorizer for your refrigerator by placing a bowl of them in the fridge overnight every few months.
- Put mothballs in the shoes of someone with an athlete’s foot to help reduce odor.
- Put mothballs under your furniture to get rid of musty odors.
- Put mothballs in plastic bags and leave them in your car as an air freshener.
- Use dried herbs instead of mothballs to repel insects and rodents from your home or car.
- Rub dried herbs and a few mothballs on carpets and rugs to eliminate musty odors.
- Use soap, vinegar, and dryer sheets to freshen up the garbage can, then add several moth balls for extra protection against decay.
- Sprinkle moth balls on your mattress and pillows to help keep bed bugs away.
- Mothballs can also keep away termites.
- Use mothballs as a natural flea repellent for dogs; sprinkle them along the dog’s backline and add more to their coat once per week.
- Put mothballs in the shoes of someone with an athlete’s foot to help reduce odor and kill the fungus causing the problem.
- Put a cotton ball soaked in vinegar at the bottom of your garbage can or bag outside, then drop in some mothballs to deter animals from digging through trash cans while eating dinner.
- Use mothballs as insulators for your computer or television set.
- Use a mixture of half water, half baking soda, and some mothballs to keep your washers, dryers, and other appliances running smoothly.
- Rub lavender or dried herbs and mothballs on your pillows and clothes to keep away insects.
- Mothballs will also work effectively against termites.
- You can also use moth balls to draw moisture from the air to repel moths from fabrics or garages (but they will seem to evaporate after several days).
- Place a bowl of mothballs in the freezer until ice forms around the bowl, then use it as an ice trinket.