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Name: Gary A Latman
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I asked this in the Chemistry section, but let us give an Environmentalist a shot. There is an open can of moth ball flakes in the washroom where I work, being used as a deodorizer. Its main ingredient is a benzene compound. How dangerous is it to use the washroom and breathe in the air. There is a sink and toilet in there, a very small space. Should I dump the stuff?

In the past moth crystals were composed of naphthalene. Today I believe the compound is paradichlorobenzene. I do not have a toxicity book handy, our technical library is unavailable.

Gary, you want to be sure that the material actually is moth flakes. There are other air freshening compounds which might exist in a form similar to moth flakes. You can ask the janitor of your building if he has the container from which the material originated. There is often handling instructions on containers of such substances. In the meantime, I will try to pin down information for both naphthalene and paradichlorobenzene.


Benzene is nasty stuff to breathe. I am not sure dumping it in the toilet is the best thing to do with it. Dropping it in the trash is probably more appropriate. Benzene is a known carcinogen and should be avoided. Your state office of Occupational Health and Safety could probably give you standards of work place exposure.


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