Mothballs in the Attic

moth_balls_sIt's another Texas winter and the mice, rats, birds, and squirrels are coming into your home and attic to get out of the cold. Are the strange noises keeping you up at night? It's time to seal up your attic. If you're considering using Moth Balls in your attic to get rid of critters, know this: mothballs are illegal and toxic to humans and will run you out of your house. Mothballs are toxic to pets. Mothballs are made from naphthalene. Naphthalene is derived from coal & tar.  Since the naphthalene gas emitted from the mothballs is heavier than air, it will find its way down into the upper living areas of your house. Also, mothballs take oxygen out of the air.  They might work for a while, but the amount needed to force the squirrels, rats, or mice out of your attic will create stench for years. Lastly, the mice, rats, and squirrels will move their nest's to another part of your home, like an isolated wall void or between your floors. Call us today to rid your attic of mothballs.


NOTE: Do Not Put Mothballs in Your Attic!

2009: Mrs. Byrd and her family had squirrels and birds in the attic of their suburban West Houston home.  They called a neighbor, whose solution was to scatter about 250-300 mothballs throughout the three attics of her home.  The mothballs got rid of the squirrels and birds, but they also ran the family and pets out of the house.  Mrs. Byrd remembers, "It didn't matter where you were in the house; the smell was all over the place."  Mrs. Byrd started experiencing severe headaches, itchy eyes, and loss of appetite within a matter of a day after spreading out the mothballs"

But it was her kids and the family’s cat that worried her.  She was devastated to find out that the main attic door, located near the kids bedrooms, had had very large gap.  The Byrds read the back of the mothball box, which stated: "May be fatal if inhaled."  Mrs. Byrd contacted the Poison Control Center.  They started listing all of the potential problems such as respiratory distress, nausea, vomiting, kidney failure and other hazards resulting from prolonged exposure. She thought" All of this from mothballs?:  And she said I'm thinking, from mothballs?"

Mrs. Byrd contacted me one afternoon and gave me the low down on what she had done to her attic and family. I met her later that evening after work to inspect the attic and there was gaseous odor throughout the house. I had to cancel the another homeowners work we had previously scheduled for the following day. The next morning we removed all of the contaminated attic insulation, rat and mice droppings, along with hundreds of mothballs from which the attic had absorbed the odor.  We sprayed a disinfectant and sanitizer with odor control before re-insulation her Attic with the "New Owens Corning L77 ProPink Insulation" to an R-44 Value.  Furthermore, some of the birds that were supposed to be repelled never made it out of the attic; the mothballs had killed them. Within 24 hours she called me on my cell phone to thank me for the quick Emergency response in repairing her attic and getting rid of the horrific smell out of her home. "If it would kill the birds," she said, "it can't be doing wonderful things for people and pets who are breathing it." 


Moth Balls Problems

Cancer - mothballs are possible carcinogens

Effect on babies - skin rash, anemia, jaundice

Breathing difficulties - asthma attacks, asthma worsening

MOTH BALLS WERE DEVELOPED as a way to deter moths from nesting and feeding on woolen clothing, primarily in sealed places such as closets.  A few of the white, sweet-smelling moth balls would be placed in closets, and seeing how effective they worked, despite precautions by the product manufacturers not to use the product other than instructed, many people expanded use of moth balls by sprinkling them throughout the inside of their homes as well as outside to repel rodents and snakes. 

The key ingredient in moth balls is naphthalene, a widely-used and highly-manufactured chemical.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified naphthalene as a persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) chemical. [2]   A PBT does not readily break down in the environment, does not easily metabolize, and may be hazardous to human health or the environment. The EPA has also classified naphthalene as a high priority PBT chemical. 

Naphthalene enters the human body through inhalation or passing through the skin.  Exposure to large amounts of naphthalene may damage or destroy red blood cells. Some symptoms include fatigue, lack of appetite, restlessness and pale skin. Exposure to large amounts of naphthalene may also cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and blood in the urine. [3]   What mothers-to-be inhale, so does baby: the developing bodies of unborn children are especially susceptible to naphthalene poisoning. 

  Naphthalene is an incredibly dangerous chemical.   A Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is a listing of chemicals and their dangers required by the Occupational Safety and Health Association (OHSA) to be included by any "chemical manufacturer or importer."  MSDS's on naphthalene warn that naphthalene is harmful if swallowed or inhaled, causes irritation to skin, eyes and respiratory tract, and may affect liver, kidney, blood and central nervous system.  Furthermore, MSDS's state that inhalation of dust or vapors can cause headache, nausea, vomiting, extensive sweating and disorientation.  The predominant reaction is delayed intravascular hemolysis (the dissolution of red blood cells) with symptoms of anemia, fever, jaundice, and kidney or liver damage. 

Another key ingredient in some brands of moth balls is para dichlorobenzene (PDB). According to a chemical profile listing of PDB conducted by Cornell University, PDB is has an acute (high) toxicity, and people who were exposed to PDB to a prolonged length of time developed anorexia, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, as well as death. [4] 

As stated previously, naphthalene does not break down in the environment; moth balls used outside wear away to seep right into the ground water.  Since water treatment plants do not remove PBT's, the use of moth balls outside contributes to a poisoning of our drinking water.  Furthermore, water used on farms and vegetable gardens may include PBT's. 

Not only is naphthalene hazardous, it is one of the most unnecessary chemicals manufactured.  There isn't anything that naphthalene accomplishes that we cannot do without.  What began as an effective way to kill moths has blossomed into a widely-used means of repelling other pests. 

The very fact that naphthalene is so effective on moths as well as repelling rodents and snakes demonstrates the mere fact that it is a deadly chemical.  If it has such an effect on pests, it goes without saying that it is equally dangerous to humans.



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