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Paradichlorobenzene poisoning

Paradichlorobenzene is a white, solid chemical with a very strong odor. Poisoning can occur if you swallow this chemical.

This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual poison exposure. If you have an exposure, you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Poisonous Ingredient

Paradichlorobenzene

Where Found

  • Toilet bowl deodorizers
  • Moth repellant

Note: This list may not be all-inclusive.

Symptoms

Eyes, ears, throat, and mouth:

  • Burning in mouth

Lungs and airways:

  • Breathing problems (rapid, slow, or painful)
  • Cough
  • Shallow breathing

Nervous system:

  • Changes in alertness
  • Headache
  • Slurred speech
  • Weakness

Skin:

  • Yellow skin (jaundice)

Stomach and intestines:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Home Care

Get medical help right away. Do NOT make the person throw up unless told to do so by poison control or a health care professional.

If the chemical is on the skin or in the eyes, flush with lots of water for at least 15 minutes.

If the chemical was swallowed, immediately give the person water or milk, unless instructed otherwise by a health care provider. Do NOT give water or milk if the person is unconscious (has a decreased level of alertness).

Before Calling Emergency

Determine the following information:

  • Person's age, weight, and condition (for example, is the person awake or alert?)
  • Name of the product (ingredients and strengths, if known)
  • Time it was swallowed
  • Amount swallowed

However, do NOT delay calling for help if this information is not immediately available.

Poison Control

The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.

This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

See: Poison control center - emergency number

What to Expect at the Emergency Room

The health care provider will measure and monitor the person's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated as appropriate. The person may receive:

  • Activated charcoal
  • Breathing support, including tube through the mouth into the lungs, and breathing machine (ventilator)
  • Fluids through a vein (by IV)
  • Laxative
  • Medications to treat symptoms
  • Tube through the mouth into the stomach to wash out the stomach (gastric lavage )

Outlook (Prognosis)

This type of poisoning is usually not life-threatening. Little will likely happen if your child accidentally puts a moth ball in the mouth, even if it is swallowed, unless it causes choking. Mothballs have an irritating smell, which usually keeps people away from them.

More severe symptoms may occur if someone intentionally swallows the product, since larger amounts are usually swallowed.

References

Goldfrank LR. Camphor and moth repellants. In: Goldfrank LR, Flomenbaum NE, Lewin NA, et al., eds. Goldfrank's Toxicologic Emergencies. 7th ed. New York, NY: McGraw Hill; 2002:chap 84.

Holland MG. Occupational Toxicology. In: Shannon MW, Borron SW, Burns MJ, eds. Haddad and Winchester's Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug Overdose. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 82.

Updated: 2/1/2014

Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.


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