Health Risks of using Mothballs as Pest Control

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For most Capital Region homeowners, at the first sign of a pest infestation they attempt to treat on their own with DIY pest control methods or old “wives’ tales.” When do-it-yourself pest control and the “wives’ tales” fail that is when the pest control specialists will be contacted. One of the most common myths surrounding homemaking is the near-legendary power of mothballs to keep any nuisance animal away according to VOXXI.

People are often quick to purchase a box of the hard, white balls and scatter the contents in attics, closets, basements and even gardens to prevent pests. What many don’t realize, however, is that mothballs are dangerous, as they are composed of two active ingredients, both of which are potentially toxic to humans and other animals. The two active ingredients commonly found in mothballs are naphthalene and paradichlorobenzene, chemicals which were originally created to deter moths from nesting and feeding on wool clothing.

Silent Menace states mothballs do not readily break down in the environment, and naphthalene is classified by the Food and Drug Administration as a bio accumulative and toxic chemical. Both chemicals cause negative health effects if they are handled in excessive amounts, and many homeowners who dump an entire carton in the closet will begin to feel ill.

According to the experts, mothballs have no real effect when it comes to deterring nuisance creatures. “In my eleven years working in the field, I have personally observed well over 100 cases in which homeowners have attempted to use mothballs as a form of pest control, and in not one of the cases was this product effective in the slightest,” David Seerveld, a wildlife removal specialist, told VOXXI. “I have seen up to 50 pounds of mothballs scattered in an attic in an attempt to remove rodents.”

“Not once in my career have I ever observed mothballs to alter the behavior of a wild animal in any way,” he added. “The rodents in the attic remained, the armadillos continued to use the burrow as if there was no change, and I’ve actively watched snakes slither right over mothball flakes. I have also seen homeowners get nauseated, vomit, and get severe headaches from heavy use of mothballs. Mothballs are a carcinogen to people and poisonous in the environment. They are a flat-out scam, and a harmful one at that.”

What do the chemicals in mothballs do?

Naphthalene is the main ingredient in mothballs, and according to The Risk Assessment Information System, the chemical can be absorbed through the skin, ingested and inhaled. If a pregnant woman comes in contact with the substance, it has the ability to cross the placenta in amounts high enough to cause fetal toxicity.

People exposed to naphthalene may experience: Hemolytic anemia, Confusion, Lethargy, Vertigo, Listlessness, Nausea, Vomiting, Jaundice, Cataracts, Optical atrophy, Skin irritation. Some symptoms of toxicity may not appear for days after ingestion or contact, and a number of deaths have been reported from intentional ingestion of naphthalene-containing mothballs. The Risk Assessment Information System indicates the lethal dose of naphthalene for adults is 5 to 15 grams compared to 2 to 3 grams in children.

While not as prominent as naphthalene, paradichlorobenzene is also harmful to children and adults. The insecticide is distributed in blood, fat and breast milk and can result in symptoms of: Nausea, Vomiting, Fatigue, Headaches, Dizziness, Burning sensation on the skin. The National Pesticide Information Center also cautions paradichlorobenzene may be a carcinogen for people and rats, though the EPA has classified it as “not likely to be” a carcinogen in humans.

When you contact your Clifton Park pest control company, Thomas Pest Services begins with an inspection to locate the source of the infestation and develops a service around the needs of the issue, home, homeowner and property. Many times homeowners are unaware, where the problem is located, then improperly use products, fail to fully eradicate the problem, spread the problem incurring more money and end up calling an exterminator after the fact. When dealing with pests around your Ballston Spa home- save time, save the headache and have the problem solved promptly and professionally by Thomas Pest Services.

Thomas Pest Services is a local, family owned pest management company serving Chatham, East Greenbush, Latham, Albany, Clifton Park, Schenectady, Edinburgh, Malta, Queensbury and surrounding towns. Thomas Pest Services is license and certified in pest control removal to effectively solve your bug or rodent issue. Protect your health, home, family and property with pest removal, contact us via phone at 1-877-518-2847, via web inquiry, Facebook or Twitter!

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