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My Neighbor Is Poisoning Me, Local Wildlife, Pets, and His Own Child

Mothballs Used As Illegal Pesticides To Drive Away Skunks

That Is A Violation of Federal Law

[Important update below]

We have skunks in the neighborhood.

I have a new, young, and very stupid neighbor.

A few weeks ago, the skunks sprayed in the middle of the night, as they occasionally do.

My new neighbor thought his house was on fire and called the fire department at 2 am. Good thing I woke up before they knocked my door down and told them it was only the skunks and not a fire (we live in attached row houses).

A few years ago, my dog was sprayed in the backyard early one evening, so I have first hand experience.  My solution is not to let the dog out after sunset. Simple.

But my neighbor? He deployed chemical warfare.

Last night about 6 pm, I was sitting on the porch watching the thunderstorms roll in and drinking a few cold beers. Went in to take a leak, and was almost knocked over by the powerful smell of mothballs (naphthalene). I shut the bathroom door and closed off the back porch in an effort to contain the vapors.

By this morning, the chemical odor had spread throughout the house. I could even smell it outside in the backyard.

I think my idiot neighbor may have put the mothballs under the back porch to drive off the skunks.

Here is EPA Guidance and warning under federal pesticide law:

Common Illegal Pest Products

mothballs | pet products | insecticidal chalk | “Tres Pasitos” | antibacterial products

Illegal naphthalene moth repellent products — mothballs —
 pose a hazard to young children. Mothballs can be easily mistaken for candy, or simply tempt young children to touch and play with them. Recent studies have linked naphthalene to illnesses, including nasal cancer. Widespread sale and distribution of these products make illegal mothballs a particular concern

Here is the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry on the Health Effects of naphthalene, something my idiot neighbor should be very concerned about because he has a young baby in the house:

Hospitals have reported many cases of hemolytic anemia in children, including newborns and infants, who either ate naphthalene mothballs or deodorant cakes or who were in close contact with clothing or blankets stored in naphthalene mothballs. Newborns or infants are thought to be especially susceptible to this effect on the blood, because their bodies are less able to get rid of naphthalene than adults.

Here is a pet poisoning advisory about risk to pets:

Mothballs are pesticides that slowly release a gas vapor to kill and repel moths (and their larvae) and other insects. Mothballs are also used to repel snakes, mice, and other animals, though this use is not recommended and can be harmful to pets, children, and the environment. Mothballs come in cakes, scales, powder, balls, cubes, spheres, and flakes and may contain the insecticides naphthalene, paradi-chlorobenzene (PDB), or occasionally camphor. Older mothballs most commonly contain naphthalene. Due to concern for naphthalene’s flammability and toxicity, most modern mothballs now contain PDB instead.

The chemicals in mothballs can be inhaled, absorbed through the skin, or absorbed through the stomach and intestines. Cats are more sensitive to the toxic effects of mothballs, but dogs are more likely to ingest mothballs. Naphthalene mothballs, or old-fashioned mothballs, are considered the most toxic type of mothball. Modern PDB mothballs are less toxic but still can cause illness, especially when ingested. Clinical signs of mothball poisoning include vomiting, mothball-scented breath, pale or brown gums, weakness or lethargy, difficulty breathing, tremors, seizures, and organ failure (e.g., liver, kidneys).

Please do not do this.

Find a way to live with the skunks and other critters.

[Update: 5:30 pm – I just got a call from the owner of the property – It was not my young neighbor who used the moth balls, it was the owner of the property, “Pete”. My apologies to my young neighbor.

Amazingly, he told me that he read somewhere that mothballs would chase away skunks and that he put 2 bags of mothballs under my porch, just behind my grill!

On my property, without my permission, in violation of federal pesticide law and likely involving trespass. Pete is a NJ State Trooper.

We just put in a call to DEP Hotline and filed a complaint. We will keep you posted on how this turns out.  ~~~ end update]

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