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FDA cautions public on use and abuse of naphthalene balls

In a significant public health alert, the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has issued a strong warning regarding the improper use and abuse of naphthalene balls, particularly in the context of unapproved treatments for Covid-19.

This cautionary message, emphasized in a recent communique by FDA Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr. Delese A. A. Darko, highlights the critical health risks associated with these practices.

Misuse during the pandemic

During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, misinformation spread rapidly, including dangerous advice advocating the use of naphthalene balls to combat the virus.

This off-label usage included dissolving naphthalene balls in drinking water or ingesting them directly, actions not only ineffective against Covid-19 but also extremely hazardous.

Health risks and carcinogenic concerns

Naphthalene is a chemical with well-documented toxicity.

Ingesting or inhaling naphthalene can lead to serious health issues, including hemolytic anemia and, over time, increased risk of developing cancer.

The FDA’s communique, backed by international research, underscores the carcinogenic risks associated with naphthalene exposure.

Social media has exacerbated the situation by spreading anecdotal claims that overlook these dangers.

International and local regulatory actions

Globally, several countries have banned or restricted the sale of naphthalene-containing products due to the risks they pose.

In many instances, these products have been mislabeled as “camphor,” misleading consumers and increasing the likelihood of misuse.

Despite these bans, naphthalene balls remain available in many regions, including Ghana, where they are registered for use as insecticides.

Strict labelling and usage regulations

The FDA has implemented stringent labelling requirements to ensure consumer safety.

Registered naphthalene products in Ghana must include comprehensive usage instructions, storage guidelines, and prominent warnings.

Labels explicitly instruct users to keep naphthalene away from food, water, and children, and to store them safely away from fire due to their flammable nature.

Continued vigilance and public education

The FDA emphasizes that naphthalene can be used safely when all label instructions are followed meticulously.

However, any deviation from these guidelines can lead to severe health consequences.

Dr. Darko's communique calls for heightened public awareness and adherence to safe usage practices.

The FDA is committed to ongoing collaboration with other agencies to monitor and regulate the use of naphthalene products.

Ensuring public safety remains a top priority, and the Authority urges citizens to report any adverse effects or misuse of naphthalene balls.

Story by: Joshua Kwabena Smith



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