Naphthalene is a dangerous ingredient that appear as a white substance that has a very strong smell. It is found in car exhaust and smoke from cigarettes and forest fires.
However, some of us known naphthalene as moth balls, which are used to repel insects. It is actually recognized as a pesticide since 1948. Moreover, just like other pesticides, naphthalene is not safe for us, especially when over-exposed to the chemicals.
Why is Naphthalene Dangerous?
Naphthalene can destroy or change the red blood cells. Thus, they will not be able to carry oxygen, which can lead to organ damage.
Naphthalene poisoning usually occurs in children who accidentally ingest moth balls, but it doesn’t mean that adults are safe.
Actually, there have been documented poisoning in adults due to occupational exposure and surprisingly even abuse with some reported cases:
A 26-year-old pregnant women sucked on moth balls during her third trimester and developed anemia.
Another woman, 19, sucked, smelled, and ate moth balls during her pregnancy and became anemic as well.
A 15-year-old boy sucked on moth balls too, and had stomach pains and vomiting. He was also diagnosed with anemia.
A 10-year-old boy who inhaled moth balls for 8 hours every night for two months. He had progressive portal hypertension and died because of liver failure.
One of the immediate sign of naphthalene poisoning is stomach pain, but this commonly takes two days to appear, along with diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Some people develop a fever and the symptoms get worse over time, which may include:
Low blood pressure
Shortness of breath
Tachycardia or increased heart rate
Unfortunately, some people end up in coma after getting poisoned with naphthalene. Moreover, people who have glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency experience worse effects.
It is important to bring immediately the person to the hospital in case of naphthalene poisoning. At the emergency room (ER), he or she may undergo some tests, such as blood and urine tests.
The vital signs will also be observed, which include pulse, blood pressure, breathing rate, and temperature.
Furthermore, there are other medication that may be performed, such as using activated charcoal to stop the poison from getting absorbed in the digestive system.