Toxno Substance Profile
Evidence-based data. We have more than 25,000 profiles on Toxno.
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Substance Name

Naphthalene
Identification Number: CASRN | 91-20-3

  Substance Attributes


  • Known Human Carcinogen

    This is a serious nasty substance. Exposure to this substance leads to cancer in Humans. Exercise extreme caution with this substance, explore your exposure routes and very seriously consider complete avoidance. See further details under Toxins.

  • Carcinogenic Properties

    Accumulating evidence points to cancer potential. Exercise caution with this substance, explore your exposure routes and consider complete avoidance. See further details under Toxins.

  • Endocrine Disrupter

    Interferes with your hormones. Hormones are powerful messengers that can bind to DNA. You don't want to mess with them.

  • Mutagenic Properties

    Cause mutations to Genetic material like DNA, RNA or mitochondrial DNA

  • Birth/Developmental

    Known to effect development of fetus.

  • Metabolic Interference or Disruption

    Interferes with human metabolism. This can be a very serious thing. Some of these interference mechanics are well established. However, often long term effects and health consequences remain largely unknown. Additionally an emerging area of concern and one that is not currently studied, is the combined synergistic effects these metabolically disrupting chemicals have on human health.


    Metabolic interference happens when the substance produces highly reactive and often damaging intermediates during detoxification or when the substance binds to specific enzymes, important structural groups on molecules, receptors and membranes or targets DNA or mimics key nutrients.

  • Exposure Produces Health Symptoms

    Symptoms maybe short term or long term depending on the exposure duration and intensity and effects areas like Cardiovascular, Gastrointestinal, Cognition, Fatigue. A substance with this attribute may cause an allergic skin reaction, serious eye irritation, allergy or asthma symptoms or breathing difficulties if inhaled.

  • Toxic to specific organs

    Can damage liver, kidney, lungs, heart or gut. Ironically liver, kidneys and gut are the main detoxifications systems.

  • Toxic to Wildlife

    May kill plants, fish, birds or other animals and insects or may be very toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects. This then effects delicate environmental ecology and food supply in ways we don't fully understand yet.

  • Volatile - Evaporates easily

    This substance easily enters the air we breath. Not really a nastiness attribute, but this feature helps rapidly spread other nastiness attributes this substance may have.

These attributes are ONLY based on peer-reviewed evidence. See link to Data Sources below. Everyone benefits from knowing this stuff. Please Share.



  • CATEGORIES: Chemical Found in Air near CSG Operations | Pit Chemicals | Chemicals detected in flowback and produced water - collectively referred to as - hydraulic fracturing wastewater | Household Toxin | Industrial/Workplace Toxin | Pollutant | Airborne Pollutant | Food Toxin | Natural Toxin | Odor | This Chemical is an Odorant and has a smell like - tar | PESTICIDE active ingredient | organic | insecticide | Inert Pesticide Ingredient USA - Non Food Use Only | Inert Pesticide Ingredient USA - FRAGRANCE ( Generally Not used on Food) | A Hazardous Substance that may be found in the Australian Workplace
  • SUBSTANCE LINEAGE: Organic Compounds | Benzenoids | Naphthalenes | | Naphthalenes
  • SYNONYMS: Albocarbon | Camphor tar | Moth balls | Moth flakes | Mothballs | Naftalen | Naphtalene | Naphthalin | Naphthaline | Naphthene | Tar camphor | Tolboxane | White tar
  • DESCRIPTION: Has been used in CSG, Hydraulic Fracturing Operations (Fracking) as - Biocide, drilling fluid additive, non emulsifying agent, fuel, acid inhibitor, fracturing, unknown, paraffin inhibitor | 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.
  • COMMENTS: This Chemical is in the category of PAH's and is found in Air near CSG Operations

    From Safe Work Australia and the Hazardous Substances Information System (HSIS) in Australia:

    Suspected of causing cancer. Harmful if swallowed. Very toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects | Chronic Health Hazard Environmental Hazard General Health Hazard | A Hazardous Substance that may be found in the Australian Workplace. Check with your employer or health and safety officer. Stay informed and become aware of the dangers that surround you. This chemical is included on the list of recognised hazardous chemicals from the Safe Work Australia - Hazardous Substances Information System (HSIS) that is based on the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS)

    Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations are the basis for hazardous chemicals regulations in Commonwealth, State and Territory jurisdictions in Australia. Under the model WHS Regulations, manufacturers and importers of substances, mixtures and articles supplied for use in workplaces are required to determine whether they are hazardous to health and safety before supply. The model WHS Regulations mandate that the hazards of a chemical as determined by the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) must be included in safety data sheets and on labels. There are transitional arrangements in place for moving to the GHS-based system.

    The GHS Hazardous Chemical Information List contains chemicals classified by an authoritative source (such as the European Commission or NICNAS) in accordance with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (the GHS). This list contains the vast majority of chemicals currently in HSIS. This list and its detail are regularly updated by Work Safe Australia. The model Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations require chemicals to be classified in accordance with the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). However transitional arrangements allow use of classification information in HSIS derived from the Approved Criteria until the 31 December 2016.
  • toxin chemical structure pubchem
  • FORMULA: C10H8
  • DATA SOURCES: DATA SOURCES: ARTICLE 4 | CPDB | T3DB | PubChem | IARC | NTP | EPA_IRIS | OEHHA | Article-Colborn-2010 | FracFocus | EPA in USA | US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES | Article-Colborn-Air | Flavornet | Consolidated Pesticide Information Dataset (CPI) from the USA EPA | Compendium of Pesticide Common Names | EPA USA - Pesticide Inerts | Safe Work Australia - Hazardous Substances Information System (HSIS)
  • LAST UPDATE: 28/04/2018

  Health Associations

Mostly focused on Health Implications of Long Term Exposure to this substance

  • SYMPTOMS: Symptoms of hemolytic anemia include fatigue, lack of appetite, restlessness, and pale skin. Exposure to large amounts of naphthalene may cause confusion, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, blood in the urine, and jaundice (yellow coloration of the skin).
  • POSSIBLE HEALTH CONSEQUENCES: Inhalation of naphthalene vapor has been associated with headaches, nausea, vomiting and dizziness. Hemolysis, the abnormal breakdown of red blood cells, may occur following ingestion or sufficient dermal exposure to either naphthalene or to naphthalene-treated fabric. In humans, cataracts and other ocular injury have been reported following acute and chronic occupational exposure to naphthalene. Additional signs of toxicity in children include convulsions and coma. Infants may develop encephalopathy and kernicterus, a form of brain damage, due to the presence of increased levels of methemoglobin, hemoglobin, and bilirubin in their plasma. Naphthalene appears to be mildly carcinogenic. Rats exposed to naphthalene vapors at 10, 30, or 60 ppm for 6 hours a day, five days a week for two years developed respiratory epithelial adenomas and olfactory epithelial neuroblastomas. | PAH metabolism occurs in all tissues, usually by cytochrome P-450 and its associated enzymes. PAHs are metabolized into reactive intermediates, which include epoxide intermediates, dihydrodiols, phenols, quinones, and their various combinations. The phenols, quinones, and dihydrodiols can be conjugated to glucuronides and sulfate esters; and the quinones can form glutathione conjugates. (L10)
  • ACTION OF TOXIN: PAH's such as naphthalene are transported throughout the body after binding blood proteins such as albumin. Binding to the aryl hydrocarbon receptor or glycine N-methyltransferase induces the expression of cytochrome P450 enzymes (especially CYP1A1, CYP1A2, and CYP1B1). These cytochrome enzymes metabolize PAH's into various toxic intermediates (epoxide intermediates, dihydrodiols, phenols, quinones, and their various combinations). The reactive metabolites of PAHs covalently bind to DNA and other cellular macromolecules, initiating mutagenesis and carcinogenesis. (10, 12, 2, 3). In humans, the metabolite alpha-naphthol has been linked to the development of hemolytic anemia in some cases following ingestion or extensive dermal or inhalation exposure. Susceptibility appears to be exacerbated by a deficiency in the glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase enzyme, or G-6-PD. Over 400 million people have an inherited condition called glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency. Exposure to naphthalene is more harmful for these people and may cause hemolytic anemia at lower doses. Some naphthalene metabolites deplete glutathione stores in affected tissues such as the lungs, leading to toxicity. The metabolites responsible for glutathione depletion have been identified as naphthalene oxide or 1,2-naphthoquinone and 1,4-naphthoquinone. | Many PAH's induce the expression of cytochrome P450 enzymes, especially CYP1A1, CYP1A2, and CYP1B1, by binding to the aryl hydrocarbon receptor or glycine N-methyltransferase protein. These enzymes metabolize PAH's into their toxic intermediates. The reactive metabolites of PAHs (epoxide intermediates, dihydrodiols, phenols, quinones, and their various combinations) covalently bind to DNA and other cellular macromolecules, initiating mutagenesis and carcinogenesis. (L10, L23, A27, A32)
  • TOXIN SITES OF ACTION IN CELL: "Membrane"
  • Additional Exposure Routes: Industrially, naphthalene is used in the production of phthalic anhydride, as a solvent for chemical reactions, as a wetting agent and as a fumigant. Naphthalene is produced industrially via coal tar and naturally with trace amounts of naphthalene being produced by black walnuts, magnolias and specific types of deer.

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  Exposure Routes

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