These pest deterrents are highly toxic when ingested, and there are other environmental concerns as well. This guide is about health risks from using mothballs.
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We get so many requests about how to get rid of pests and invariably people say to use mothballs or were given this advice from exterminators. Mothballs are very toxic. They contain Napthalene which is highly poisonous. It does keep moths away and many other pests but is also bad for us, our pets (dogs, cats, and birds) and wildlife.
We also get many, many requests asking how to get rid of the mothball smells after using them to keep mice out of their attics and crawl spaces. The best way is not to use them in the first place. If you must use them, make sure you contain them in something. As soon as you want to remove them, all you need to do is remove a mesh bag rather than trying to find them all over the attic.
Personally, I don't use them for anything and wouldn't recommend their use. Cedar shavings do repel moths and work well repelling some other pests also.
By Susan Sanders-Kinzel
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Here are questions related to Health Risks from Using Mothballs.
Do moth balls affect humans with chest problems?
By Dawne H. from Roslyn, P N.
By Louise B. 08/13/2014
Mothballs are poisonous, which is why they kill moths. They are poisonous to humans and pets as well. I wouldn't have them in the house, or anywhere else for that matter.
My husband threw moth balls in our basement this winter. It got into our ventilation and went throughout the whole house. Are there any health risks involved? How do I get rid of this stench?
By Marcia from IN
By Louise B. 03/05/2013
I think there might be health risks involved. Moth balls are poisonous, - naphthalene - and are for killing moths. Certainly, smelling that horrible odor will not do you any good. I do not know how you would get rid of it other than locating and disposing of the mothballs, but I certainly urge you to do so.
I have a dog and I need to know if mothballs are harmful to pets.
By Annette from Spartanburg, SC
By Lizzyanny 03/22/2010
Yes mothballs are potentially very harmful to pets and you, too. If you are having trouble with moths, try cedar in some form. You can buy cedar balls, small planks or oil to hang into your closet. It smells a whole lot better than mothballs too.