03 January 2014

Watchdog Calls on Government to Ban Harmful Insect Repellents as Bulgaria Recalled PH-Made Mothballs




An environmental and health watchdog today called on the government to review its regulation on naphthalene mothballs after a European country ordered their withdrawal from the market.

“The withdrawal in Bulgaria of mothballs imported from the Philippines should be a wakeup call for makers and users of naphthalene-based pest control products,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“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,” he pointed.

“Our market surveillance shows that naphthalene balls are sold in formal stores in packs that say ‘naphthalene may cause hemolytic 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,” he noted.

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

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 the “Bug-Off 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 notification published on the RAPEX’s website last December 27.

“The marketing of naphthalene products is prohibited according to Regulation (EC) No 2032/2003, Regulation (EU) No 528/2012 and Commission Decision 2008/681/EC,” it said.

The “Naphthalene General Information” published by UK’s Health Protection Agency (HPA) 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 HPA said.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer has 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,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

-end-

Reference:

http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/safety/rapex/alerts/main/index.cfm?event=main.weeklyOverview&web_report_id=830 (please click Report 51)

http://www.fda.gov.ph/component/search/?searchword=bug-off&searchphrase=all&Itemid=181

http://www.hpa.org.uk/webc/hpawebfile/hpaweb_c/1203084377869

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