Found in many essential oils Naphthalene is an organic compound with formula C10H8. It is a white crystalline solid with a characteristic odor that is detectable at concentrations as low as 0.08 ppm by mass. Trace amounts of naphthalene are produced by magnolias and specific types of deer, as well as the Formosan subterranean termite. Some strains of the endophytic fungus Muscodor albus produce naphthalene among a range of volatile organic compounds, while Muscodor vitigenus produces naphthalene almost exclusively (Wikipedia)


Naphthalene is the simplest polyaromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) consisting of two fused benzene rings. It has a distinct, pungent odor that can be detected at levels as low as 0.08 ppm. Naphthalene is the most abundant single component of coal tar so most of it is now industrially derived from coal tar. From the 1960s until the 1990s, significant amounts of naphthalene were also produced from heavy petroleum fractions during petroleum refining, but today petroleum-derived naphthalene represents only a minor component of naphthalene production. Naphthalene is also produced naturally with trace amounts of naphthalene being produced by black walnuts, magnolias and specific types of deer, as well as the Formosan subterranean termite. Some strains of the endophytic fungus (Muscodor albus) also produce naphthalene. Naphthalene and other polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are released from incomplete combustion processes originating in industry, cigarette smoke and motor vehicle exhaust, as well as natural events such as forest fires. Industrially, naphthalene is used in the production of phthalic anhydride, as a solvent for chemical reactions, as a wetting agent and as a fumigant. It is also used in pyrotechnic special effects such as the generation of black smoke and simulated explosions. In the past, naphthalene was administered orally to kill parasitic worms in livestock. Naphthalene was once the primary ingredient in mothballs, though its use has largely been replaced in favor of alternatives such as 1,4-dichlorobenzene. In a sealed container containing naphthalene pellets, naphthalene vapors build up to levels that are toxic to both the adult and larval forms of many moths. Naphthalene has been shown to exhibit apoptotic and catabolic functions (4, 5). Exposure to large amounts of naphthalene may damage or destroy red blood cells. Humans, in particular children, have developed this condition, known as hemolytic anemia, after ingesting mothballs or deodorant blocks containing naphthalene.

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