Christopher Serju, Gleaner Writer
AS OF MONDAY, October 1, the importation of mothballs will be regulated by the Pesticides Control Authority (PCA), with an import licence required for each shipment of the product.
In a newspaper advertisement last Sunday, the agency advised that from that date, "Only those naphthalene or para-dichlorobenzene pesticides products (including mothballs) that have been registered by the PCA will be allowed for importation and sale in Jamaica."
However, the agency will allow for stocks of the product already in the island which conform to Jamaican labelling standards and safety considerations to be sold until depleted.
The advertisement goes on to explain that under the Pesticides Act 1975, only pesticides registered by the PCA can be locally manufactured, imported, or sold in Jamaica. Even though sold locally without restriction for many years, mothballs and similar products containing naphthalene or para-dichlorobenzene are now classified as pesticides and therefore subject to regulation by the PCA.
INADEQUATE INFORMATION ON LABELS
Michael Ramsay, registrar of the PCA, explained that there have been concerns about the inadequate labelling on some of the mothball products. In addition, even where these are labelled, householders and business people fail to read the instructions for use and storage. The PCA is particularly concerned that in the home children could easily access the mothballs and ingest them.
Used widely in Jamaican homes to protect clothing from the ravages of moths, Ramsay explained that the two active ingredients which make about 99 per cent of mothballs - naphthalene and para-dichlorobenzene - are, in fact, pesticides. For this reason, they will now fall under the jurisdiction of the PCA.
"Some people use it as an air freshener and widely as a deodorising agent in urinals, but the fumes which make them so effective and popular are a possible health problem, and so mothballs should not be used as an air freshener," he advised.
The registrar is advising companies engaged in the importation of mothballs to ensure that these are registered with and approved by the PCA and are encouraged to contact the agency for information and guidance on how to proceed.