Vegan Health ArticlesMothballs May Kill More Than Moths
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From by Michael Greger, M.D.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that over a billion pounds of pesticides are used every year in the United States, over 4 pounds for every man, woman, and child. Most studies to date have looked at the cancer risk involved with occupational pesticide exposure, but a new study out of New York University looked into the risks associated with household pesticide use.

Those using household pesticide products seemed to increase their risk of developing a high grade lymphoma (lymphoid cancer) by over 60%. The worst offenders seemed to be indoor insecticide foggers and mothballs. Those with any history of mothball usage seemed to double their risk of developing lymphoma.[1]

The major chemical constituents of mothballs are either paradichlorobenzene or naphthalene, the two most ubiquitously detected hazardous household chemicals in indoor air.[2] According to the U.S. Public Health Service, although people are exposed to these toxic chemicals in foods derived from animals exposed to insecticides (such as "meat, chicken, eggs, or fish," [3]) the primary exposure is through smoke, mothballs, toilet deodorizer blocks, and many indoor air "fresheners."

Cedar blocks, cedar shavings or cedar oil represent nontoxic alternatives to mothballs.


[1] Kato I, Watanabe-Meserve H, Koenig KL, et al. "Pesticide Product Use and Risk of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in Women." Environmental Health Perspectives 112(2004):1275.

[2] Van Winkel MR and Scheff PA. Volatile organic compounds, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and elements in the air of ten urban homes. Indoor Air 11(2001):49.

[3] Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). 2003. Toxicological profile for naphthalene, 1-methylnaphthalene, and 2-methylnaphthalene. Draft for Public Comment. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service; Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). 2004. Toxicological profile for dichlorobenzenes. (Draft for Public Comment). Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service.

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We began this archive as a means of assisting our visitors in answering many of their health and diet questions, and in encouraging them to take a pro-active part in their own health. We believe the articles and information contained herein are true, but are not presenting them as advice. We, personally, have found that a whole food vegan diet has helped our own health, and simply wish to share with others the things we have found. Each of us must make our own decisions, for it's our own body. If you have a health problem, see your own physician.