Paradichlorobenzene is a white, solid chemical with a very strong odor. Poisoning can occur if you swallow this chemical.
This article is for information only. DO NOT use it to treat or manage an actual poison exposure. If you or someone you are with has an exposure, call your local emergency number (such as 911), or your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States.
These products contain paradichlorobenzene:
- Toilet bowl deodorizers
- Moth repellant
Other products may also contain paradichlorobenzene.
Below are symptoms of paradichlorobenzene poisoning in different parts of the body.
EYES, EARS, THROAT, AND MOUTH
- Burning in mouth
LUNGS AND AIRWAYS
- Breathing problems (rapid, slow, or painful)
- Shallow breathing
- Changes in alertness
- Slurred speech
- Yellow skin (jaundice)
STOMACH AND INTESTINES
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
Get medical help right away. DO NOT make the person throw up unless poison control or a health care provider tells you to.
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, give the person water or milk right away, unless instructed otherwise by a provider. DO NOT give water or milk if the person is unconscious (has a decreased level of alertness).
Before Calling Emergency
Have this information ready:
- Person's age, weight, and condition (for example, is the person awake or alert?)
- Name of the product
- Time it was swallowed
- Amount swallowed
However, DO NOT delay calling for help if this information is not immediately available.
Your local poison control center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States. This 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.
What to Expect at the Emergency Room
Take the container to the hospital with you, if possible.
The provider will measure and monitor the person's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Blood and urine tests will be done.
Treatment may include:
- Fluids through a vein (by IV)
- Activated charcoal
- Tube through the mouth into the stomach to wash out the stomach (gastric lavage)
- Medicines to treat symptoms
- Breathing support, including tube through the mouth into the lungs and connected to a breathing machine (ventilator)
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 swallows the product on purpose, since larger amounts are commonly swallowed.
Burns in the airway or gastrointestinal tract can lead to tissue necrosis, resulting in infection, shock, and death, even several months after the substance is first swallowed. Scars may form in these tissues, leading to long-term difficulties with breathing, swallowing, and digestion.
Dubey D, Sharma VD, Pass SE, Sawhney A, Stüve O. Para-dichlorobenzene toxicity - a review of potential neurotoxic manifestations. Ther Adv Neurol Disord. 2014;7(3):177-187. PMID: 24790648 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24790648.
Kim HK. Camphor and moth repellents. In: Hoffman RS, Howland MA, Lewin NA, Nelson LS, Goldfrank LR, Flomenbaum NE, eds. Goldfrank's Toxicologic Emergencies. 10th ed. New York, NY: McGraw Hill; 2015:chap 105.
Review Date 9/28/2019
Updated by: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Emeritus, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA.Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.