Mothballs

Pronunciation: MOTH-ballz

Chemical Abstracts Service Registry Number: None Formal Names: Naphthalene, Paradichlorobenzene Type: Inhalant. See page 26 Federal Schedule Listing: Unlisted

USA Availability: Generally available nonprescription product Pregnancy Category: None

Uses. Mothballs typically contain naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene. Neither persons who use mothballs recreationally nor their medical caregivers are always aware of which kind of mothballs have been used. Diaper pail and toilet deodorizers may contain one or the other of those chemicals. Naphthalene varieties look dry, and paradichlorobenzene products appear oily. Normally people inhale fumes, but cases of oral ingestion are known. Naphthalene can also be absorbed through the skin; an infant died from using diapers and blankets contaminated with the substance. Some glues contain naphthalene, but sensations from glue sniffing are normally considered a result of toluene.

Drawbacks. Naphthalene may create agitation and tiredness, fever, skin paleness, headache, appetite loss, abdominal discomfort, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, cataracts, and kidney failure. Blood disorders serious enough to prevent the body from utilizing enough oxygen from the lungs may arise. The kidney failure can create excessive blood potassium levels, which in turn can cause heart failure. Seizures and coma may also occur. Jaundice is a known affliction from naphthalene, and a case report notes fatal liver damage.

A case report tells about difficulty with control of fingers due to inhaling mothball fumes. Paradichlorobenzene is not associated with such an affliction, so the problem is assumed to have come from naphthalene mothballs. Compared to naphthalene, harm from paradichlorobenzene normally takes longer to appear but may include liver and kidney malfunction. A case of anemia is known from eating two paradichlorobenzene toilet freshener blocks per week.

Abuse factors. One person experienced tremors and weariness upon stopping daily oral ingestion of paradichlorobenzene mothballs (which suggests dependence may have developed).

Drug interactions: Not enough scientific information to report.

Cancer. Naphthalene has not been found to cause cancer. Paradichloroben-

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