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Safety of PH-made mothballs questioned.

Byline: Tina G. Santos

MANILA -- An environmentalist and health group called on the government Friday to review its regulations regarding naphthalene mothballs after a European country ordered the recall of the product.

Citing information from the European Union's Rapid Alert System for Non-Food Dangerous Products (RAPEX), the Ecowaste Coalition said that Bulgaria recently withdrew from the market naphthalene balls imported from the Philippines.

"The product poses a chemical risk because it contains pure naphthalene, which is toxic by inhalation, ingestion and dermal absorption," according to a notice published on RAPEX's website last December 27.

According to Ecowaste, the recall by Bulgaria of mothballs imported from the Philippines should be a wakeup call for makers and users of naphthalene-based pest control products.

"Despite the health concerns that prompted European countries to ban naphthalene balls, these cheap repellents against moths and silverfish bugs are still widely available in the local market," Thony Dizon, coordinator of the Ecowaste Coalition's Project Protect, said in a press statement.

"Our market surveillance shows that naphthalene balls are sold in formal stores in packs that say `naphthalene may cause haemolytic crisis,' or the rapid destruction of large numbers of red blood cells causing acute anemia," he said. "On the other hand, those sold by street vendors are simply packed in clear plastic bags with zero product labels or health warnings."

Ecowaste added that the Naphthalene General Information published by UK's Health Protection Agency warned that "naphthalene is toxic by all routes of exposure, whether it is ingested, inhaled or comes into contact with skin and eyes."

"Breathing fumes containing naphthalene, drinking solutions or swallowing solid naphthalene can cause nausea, vomiting, pain in the abdomen, diarrhea, confusion, sweating, fever, fast heart rate, rapid breathing and may lead to convulsions, coma and possibly death," the British agency said.

The European Union, which includes Bulgaria, has banned naphthalene mothballs as a moth repellent product since 2008, the group added.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer has also classified naphthalene as a possible human carcinogen.

"As a precaution against health-damaging exposure, we urge the authorities to impose a ban on the use of naphthalene and other hazardous substances such as paradichlorobenzene for pest control," Ecowaste added.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Jan 3, 2014
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