Paradichlorobenzene poisoning

Definition

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 Treatment

Seek immediate medical help. Do NOT make a 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 patient is unconscious (has a decreased level of alertness).

Before Calling Emergency

Determine the following information:

  • Patient'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, or a local emergency number

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 patient's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated as appropriate. The patient may receive:

  • Activated charcoal
  • Fluids through a vein (by IV)
  • Laxative
  • Medicines to treat symptoms
  • Tube through the mouth into the stomach to wash out the stomach (gastric lavage)

Expectations (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's 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.

Revision

Last reviewed 2/28/2012 by Eric Perez, MD, St. Luke's / Roosevelt Hospital Center, NY, NY, and Pegasus Emergency Group (Meadowlands and Hunterdon Medical Centers), NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

Disclaimers

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