Mothballs banned due to toxic risk

Mothballs are often stored with clothes to keep the moths away.
Photo / Thinkstock
Mothballs are often stored with clothes to keep the moths away. Photo / Thinkstock

Mothballs have been mothballed in New Zealand with the risk of kids ingesting the toxic products prompting health authorities to ban them.

The Ministry of Health on Wednesday requested retailers remove the products from sale and are urging anyone who bought some to dispose of them or return them.

It comes after the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) advised that the chemicals in mothballs and moth flakes have not been approved for use as a pesticide.

The small white balls - used to ward off moths that eat natural fibres - often contain different concentrations of toxic substances.

"The more concentrated they are, the more harmful they are if eaten," said the ministry in a statement.

"Eating or ingesting these products could be fatal."

Even though no one in New Zealand has died from eating mothballs, an average of two people every three years are admitted to hospital for eating mothballs and associated products.

Eighty per cent of those who require hospital treatment are children under the age of four.

Mothballs and flakes are banned in Europe and are available in Australia in a form that prevents them being swallowed or eaten.

The ministry says similar products in this form aren't available in New Zealand, and would need to be assessed by the EPA before they could be imported or manufactured.


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