The sweet taste and deadly effect of mothballs

Monday, April 15, 2013 by: Wendy Merrill
Tags: mothballs, insecticide, naphthalene

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(NaturalNews) Mothballs. Remember those smelly little white balls mothers and grandmothers used to store winter sweaters in? And that odor! They gave off an odor that would make the nose and eyes run like Niagara Falls. They looked harmless enough, after all, Grammy used them, the same Grammy that seemed to know practically everything about what was good and wholesome for the grandkids.

It should come as no surprise that mothballs are carcinogenic, fumigant, volatile, and toxic little insecticides. They are sublimates, which are solids that, given time, convert directly into a harmful gas. Mothballs were developed as a means to kill things. It seems the method by which this is done, is with the vaporous gas given off by the mothballs. When inhaled in concentrated amounts (presumably by bugs), the gas tends to clog, then paralyze the lungs, damaging tissue and red blood cells while making normal breathing difficult to the point of exhaustion for the victim.

Naphthalene is used to manufacture dyes, solvents and lubricants

The key ingredient of most mothball brands in the earlier days was naphthalene, a widely-used white crystalline solid chemical, which is a water-insoluble hydrocarbon, generally a derivative from coal tar or crude oil. Naphthalene is also highly flammable and a by-product of various burning processes such as car exhaust, cigarette smoke, or forest fire smoke. Additionally, it has been used as an insect repellant powder on farm animals. Naphthalene has officially been classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as a "persistent, bio-accumulative and toxic (PBT) chemical."

Para-dichlorobenzene (PDB) is a known animal cancer-causing ingredient

In more recent times, mothball production has been using a different chemical, supposedly less toxic, called para-dichlorobenzene (PDB) or 1,4 dichlorobenzene. It is being marketed as a chlorinated, yet safer option then naphthalene, but some research indicates a very real risk of leukemia in humans, and liver, kidney and adrenal gland tumors and cancer in some mice and rat studies. That is likely to make one a bit nervous given that mice, rats and human have eerily similar bone, muscle and DNA structure.

It's also worth noting that small children, dogs and cats can be easily "snookered" into thinking that mothballs are candy-like, given their inherently sweet taste. PDB is a well-known animal cancer-causing ingredient, since the chemical can linger in homes for years. Leaving mothballs laying around in accessible places can make for a potentially dangerous and deadly setting for the ignorant and innocent.

Some of the barrage of ailments that can be experienced by just the sheer inhalation of this deadly substance are fatigue, restlessness, anemia, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, blood in the urine, lack of appetite, fever, jaundice, kidney damage, liver damage, profuse sweating, headaches, disorientation, gastrointestinal stress, comas, seizures, and yes even death...seems vaguely reminiscent of the black box warnings on the most recent new-fangled drug, doesn't it?

Perhaps it's time to switch to a safer, non-toxic, more pleasant smelling naturally derived alternative. Cedarwood, rosemary, peppermint or lavender oils perhaps? Given the health concerns, Grammy would probably understand.

Sources for this article include:

About the author:
Wendy Merrill, CCI, M.S. Hol. Nutr.

Wendy is a natural health and nutritional consultant, an IIPA Board Certified iridologist and serves on the International Iridology Practitioners Association Board of Directors. She also holds a Masters degree in Holistic Nutritional Sciences and is the Founder of VisualEyes Health (, a holistic nutritional consulting company using iridology assessments along with other non-invasive procedures to assist healing.

She is passionate about natural health living, with added emphasis on iridology (both human and animal), homeopathy, sports nutrition, nutritional physiology, facial diagnostics and nature photography.

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