U.S. environmental officials are warning the public about an illegal pesticide product, mothballs imported from China, discovered during an inspection at a Kearny warehouse.
Not only could Fuji Lavender Moth Tablets be mistaken for candy, but their active ingredient is believed to be the toxic chemical para-dichlorobenzene, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The case began Nov. 2, when the EPA received a routine request from a Brooklyn, N.Y., company to import a disinfection product containing a pesticide. Checking the paperwork, the agency found Dettol Disinfectant Laundry Sanitizer did not have an EPA registration number as required by law.
Conducting a follow-up inspection at the Kearny warehouse, the EPA also discovered 4,800 brightly colored bags of the mothballs. An investigation in Brooklyn discovered similar products.
The agency is unsure whether any of the mothballs have made it into area stores and asks the public to report any instances. Any consumer who has already bought the mothballs should contact EPA at (732) 321-4461 for help in properly disposing of them.
Inhaling para-dichlorobenzene can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, respiratory distress and other illnesses. Swallowing it can damage the nervous system and, in extreme cases, can cause coma or death. In this case, the product's similarity to candy makes accidental poisonings a real threat, according to the agency.
"EPA wants to make sure that no one gets sick from these illegal imported toxic pesticides," Judith Enck, the agency's regional administrator, said in a press release.
Enck called the lack of registration "a serious violation," since the process is intended to identify the contents of pesticide products and how they are to be used.
"Mothballs sold in colorful packaging that resemble candy pose a particular risk to children," she said.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is working with the EPA to find the illegal products and safely dispose of them.
For more information about illegal pesticides, their health effects, and how to dispose of them, go to the EPA's illegal pesticide website http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/health/illegalproducts/index.htm
— STAFF, NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM