• Mothballs are a household product used for several different reasons. Mothballs can be used as a deodorizer for the home or for pest control. In order to use mothballs, certain safety precautions must be followed.

    Mothball Activation

    Mothballs often are placed in closets and drawers to keep moths from eating clothes. According to the National Pesticide Information Center, mothballs consist of a deodorizer and an active ingredient of either naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene. The mothball turns from a solid to a gas, and the gas buildup eventually kills moths and moth larvae.

    Use of Mothballs

    You may think that placing mothballs in a closet or drawer is all you have to do in order to get rid of moths. Actually, mothballs must be placed with clothing in a sealed package so the mothballs' active ingredient can build up into its gas state.

    Mothballs' Effects on Humans

    Mothballs are not deadly to humans unless they are consumed, but they can cause problems if the fumes are inhaled on a regular basis. The best way to ensure mothball safety from the fumes is by airing out or washing any clothing that has been exposed to mothballs. Remember to follow the directions on the mothball container to ensure proper use of mothballs. Also, keep mothballs out of reach from children and pets so they don't consume the mothballs.

    Placement of Mothballs

    Mothballs must be placed only in airtight bags or containers. Placing mothballs in open spaces can be damaging to humans because of the fumes. Mothballs shouldn't be placed in trash cans, attics or even outside. Placing mothballs outdoors to rid of squirrels and other pests is illegal, and placing them in open areas in the home can be damaging to the lungs. In order to dispose of mothballs that are solid state, they must be placed in an airtight bag first, then placed in the trash.

    Symptoms of Overexposure to Mothballs

    If mothballs are placed in open spaces, the danger of overexposure to mothball fumes can occur. The symptoms of inhaling mothball fumes are nausea, headaches, difficulty breathing and dizziness. It can also be expensive to fumigate a home that has been exposed to high amounts of mothball gases.


    National Pesticide Information Center: Moth Balls (Naphthalene and Paradichlorobenzene)

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