It's funny the misconceptions we grow up with. I thought moth balls had been around for centuries, and that they were a safe way to keep your clothes moth free. I remember my grandmother's clothes frequently smelled of mothballs, especially at the change of seasons. Now I learn that they are a dangerous chemical. I'm glad I never got in the habit of using them. Here in Oregon we use our winter clothes off and on year round. I have had problems with moths in my pantry, but not in my clothing. It's a good thing there are natural ways to keep the moths away.
Fleur Hupston - Natural News
People still use mothballs to get rid of moth larvae when storing clothes and bedding. Although the sale of mothballs containing dangerous chemicals has been banned in Europe since 2008, in other parts of the world mothballs are still sold and used regularly. Avoid using volatile, chemical insecticides and opt instead for natural insect repellents that will not harm people, animals or the environment.Australia calls for a ban on harmful insect repellents
In a report published on 7 February 2011, Professor William Tarnow-Mordi of Australia's Westmead International Network for Neonatal Education and Research stated that babies could develop massive breakdown of their red blood cells within hours of being wrapped in clothing stored with moth balls.
He warned that "without further measures, more babies could sustain brain damage, or die. While acknowledging the importance of raising awareness of the dangers of naphthalene, we believe that the safest course is prevention, that is, an Australia-wide ban on mothballs containing naphthalene."Chemical ingredients in mothballs
Moth balls currently produced in the United States and other countries contain one of two chemical ingredients: naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene.
According to Silent Menace, "Naphthalene has been classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as a persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) chemical. PBT does not readily break down in the environment, does not easily metabolize, and may be hazardous to human health or the environment."
In a chemical profile listing of paradichlorobenzene conducted by Cornell University, PDB has an acute (high) toxicity, and people, who were exposed to PDB for a prolonged length of time, developed anorexia, nausea, vomiting and weight loss, as well as death.
Paradichlorobenzene will react with and melt some hard plastics and may even melt plastic buttons or ornaments on clothes.
The solid balls slowly transition into a gas that is toxic to moths. Because the chemicals are so toxic, mothballs can affect adults, children, pets and wild creatures. According to the National Pesticide Information Center, "When you smell mothballs, you are inhaling the insecticide."Natural alternatives to mothballs
Try the following natural alternatives to repel moths and other insects:
Citronella makes an excellent repellent. Place a few drops onto a square of cotton and add to linen cupboards to keep clothes fresh and free from moths.
Sandalwood and lavender are also good repellents, as are cloves, tansy or woodruff. Fill a cotton bag with cloves and place between clothes to repel moths.
Camphor has traditionally been used to keep moths away.
Fill a little drawstring cotton bags with a mixture of dried rosemary, mint, thyme, ginseng and whole cloves. Place in cupboards and drawers between clothes.
Store winter clothes in airtight containers. If they are not stored in airtight containers, wash and sun-dry articles once every six weeks or so to keep moths at bay.
Vacuum clean and air cupboards and drawers regularly.