Fast Help 1-800-222-1222

Mothballs can cause serious illness and lead to poisoning if swallowed, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin.  
Mothballs usually contain naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene and some may contain camphor. All types can be toxic if enough are ingested.

Mothballs should never be scattered throughout the inside or outside of a home for use as a deodorizer or to prevent pests.


Additional information about mothballs:

  • As little as half of one mothball can be dangerous if swallowed.
  • Mothballs should not be scattered in basements and crawl spaces as the fumes can drift throughout the home through heating and air ducts.
  • Infants wearing clothes or swaddled in blankets that have been stored with mothballs can even absorb the toxins through their skin.
  • Mothballs are NOT effective at keeping snakes away.
  • Mothballs can also be harmful to pets.

Ingestion of mothballs may cause:

  • vomiting
  • fatigue, drowsiness
  • tremors, shaking, trembling
  • blood in the urine
  • low blood count, anemia
  • kidney damage

Inhalation of mothballs may cause:

  • headaches
  • eye irritation
  • breathing problems
  • nausea

Absorption of mothballs through the skin may cause:

  • burning sensation of the skin
  • possible allergic reaction


Call NC Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 or chat from this site for further treatment advice.


Last Updated on 12/19/2023