AKA: Naphthalin, Tar camphor, white tar. May be listed as a surfactant. Petroleum and coal contain naphthalene. Approximately 1 million tons are produced annually. Most widely known as the main ingredient in mothballs, moth flakes and industrial bathroom deodorant blocks. Naphthalene is used as an intermediate in the preparation of synthetic dyes and as a synthetic tanning agent. It is used in insecticides, surface active agents and resins. Naphthalene is used to manufacture a plastic called polyvinyl chloride (PVC).
Naphthalene can be inhaled through air fresheners polluting indoor air.Exposure can be from touching fabrics treated with it for moth protection. If you touch or eat mothballs or moth flakes, if you smoke, or if you drink water containing naphthalene it will enter your body.
Acute exposure to Napthalene may damage or destroy red blood cells. Other side effects may include headache,excitement,malaise,abdominal pain, renal shutdown,confusion, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, anemia, convulsions, coma, blood in the urine, profuse sweating, dermatitis, corneal damage and jaundice.
Chronic (long term) exposure has been cited as the cause of cataracts and retinal hemmorage, chronic inflammation of the lung, nasal inflammation, hyperplasia(abnormal cell growth) of the linings of the nose and throat. Naphthalene and its metabolites have been reported to cross the human placenta in amounts sufficient to cause fetal toxicity.It has been reported when pregnant women who have inhaled naphthalene give birth to infants with hemolytic anemia.
Naphthalene has moderate to high toxicity from ingestion in tested animals and low to moderate toxicity to skin exposure. It is an immediate danger to life or health at concentrations of 250 parts per million.
IARC and the EPA classify naphthalene as a possible carcinogen.