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Mothballs Are Pesticides and Require Precautions

By Chris Williams on January 26, 2016.

Too often, we see customers that have placed mothballs or moth crystals around their home or in their attic in an attempt to repel mice, snakes, raccoons, and many other pests. This is an illegal and dangerous use of a pesticide. Mothballs are pesticides that come in a solid form, but then volatilize, changing slowly to a gas.

The information below applies to mothballs, moth crystals, moth cakes, or any similar product that contains the pesticides naphthalene or pardichlorobenzene.

  1. Mothballs are pesticides and are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency. As such, the label directions, by law, must be followed as for any other pesticide.
  2. Mothball labels allow their use against fabric pests like clothes moths, not against raccoons, squirrels, cockroaches, snakes, etc. (see Don’t Use Mothballs to Repel Nuisance Animals).
  3. The label on a mothball product further specifies how and where you can use the product. Using it in any other manner is illegal and unsafe.
  4. Mothball labels typically direct users to place mothballs in a tightly closed container that will prevent the pesticide fumes from accumulating in living spaces where people and pets can breathe them in.
  5. If you can smell mothballs, you are inhaling the pesticide fumes which can lead to headaches, nausea, vomiting and other symptoms. Long-term exposure to mothballs can cause liver and kidney damage.
  6. Mothballs placed out in the open are attractive to children or pets since they can look like candy. One mothball can cause serious harm if eaten by a child.
  7. Mothball products are not labeled for outdoor use against insects, snakes, garden pests or any other pest. Use of mothballs outdoors can harm animals and can contaminate soil, plants, and water.

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