That darling baby blanket you have wrapped in mothballs to save for your future grand (or even great-grand) kids? Bad idea. Really bad idea.
Mothballs may look all cute and harmless — just like white, smelly marbles — but they're really little chunks of dangerous pesticide. Storing treasured baby clothes in mothballs can be lethal, say leading pediatricians from Australia and New Zealand. The doctors say the fumes could lead to severe brain damage in babies and even death from the insecticide naphthalene used in mothballs.
The pesticide in mothballs slowly vaporizes into lethal gas in order to kill bugs, according to the National Pesticide Information Center at Oregon State University. In the United States, mothballs are made with either naphthalene or another insecticide, paradichlorobenzene. "When you smell mothballs, you are inhaling the insecticide," the center's website warns.
The center also warns against using mothballs in gardens or other outdoor locations to control insects, snakes or other pests. Using mothballs outside is not only illegal, it can harm children, pets and wildlife, as well as contaminate the soil, plants and water.
Candy Sagon writes about health and nutrition for AARP Bulletin.