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New Labelling and Packaging Requirements for Naphthalene-Containing Mothballs

Starting date:
March 28, 2012
Posting date:
March 28, 2012
Type of communication:
Information Update
Household Items, Chemicals
Source of recall:
Health Canada
Product Safety, Labelling and Packaging
General Public
Identification number:

Health Canada is introducing new packaging and labelling requirements for naphthalene, an active ingredient in mothballs and moth flakes used to control fabric-eating moths and larvae.

Following a recent Health Canada re-evaluation of naphthalene, consumer-product labels are being revised to:

  • reduce the maximum application rate;
  • add directions to store the product in a dry place out of the reach of children and pets;
  • add directions to open the product only in a well-ventilated area, and to carefully reseal the container after application; and
  • restrict the use of mothballs and moth flakes to indoor use only, in airtight containers.

Packaging and/or formulations must also be changed to discourage children from accidentally eating loose mothballs, and to minimize the release of vapours while the product is being stored. Manufacturers have until September 2013 to meet all the new requirements.

Exposure to naphthalene vapours can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness and vomiting. Hemolytic anemia, the abnormal breakdown of red blood cells, may occur following ingestion or sufficient exposure to mothballs or mothball-treated fabrics. People with a genetically inherited deficiency in the enzyme glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G-6-PD) are at greater risk of developing hemolytic anemia. Infants may develop hemolytic anemia from exposure to naphthalene even if not deficient in G-6-PD.

Children are at risk of eating mothballs because the product looks like candy. They can develop diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, lack of appetite, fever, abdominal pain and painful urination and dark urine. Pets that eat mothballs can develop lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite and tremors.

To reduce exposure to the vapours, fabric items stored in mothballs should be thoroughly aired out to completely remove odours before they are used. This should be done outdoors in an area not accessible to children or pets (preferably in direct sunlight). It may take several days for odours to be completely removed. Wash clothing or fabrics before using.

Consumers are also reminded that there are no registered outdoor uses for mothballs or moth flakes in Canada. Such use creates potential risks to both human and animal health.

Mothballs and moth flakes are pesticide products. Use only pesticides that have been registered in Canada, which can be identified by the Pest Control Product or PCP registration number on the main portion of the label. Follow the directions carefully, and always keep pesticides out of reach of children and pets.

Information on how to report an incident with naphthalene or any other pesticide product is available on the Health Canada website.

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