How do I Convince Landlord to Remove Mothballs ... ?
January 20, 2017 8:51 AM   Subscribe

How do I Convince the Landlord to Remove the Mothballs he Put in the Basement/Garage to Get Rid of The Mice I Complained About?

I have had an on/off problem with mice in my apartment. Landlord has been responsive with sending out an exterminator laying out poison, sealing holes, etc. However, after a few months, mice problem returned, so Landlord decided to use mothballs as a deterrent. Mothballs were deployed, I left town for 10 days, return to my apartment last night and smell of mothballs is still overwhelming. Woke up with headache and nausea. Apparently other residents have complained (4 unit bldg) because I saw a sign in our foyer from Landlord explaining why he put mothballs out. Basically saying "suck it up for awhile" because it's to get rid of the mice you complained about!! I have all the windows and doors open and am burning incense to get rid of the fumes, but the weather here is going to get cold again tomorrow and leaving windows open will not be an option!

Any suggestions for how I convince the Landlord that mothball fumes are toxic? I don't want to get nasty with him because he is trying to fix the mice problem, but I cannot survive the fumes!! What's the best way to communicate the urgency of the problem without being a jerk? Thanks!
posted by pjsky to Health & Fitness (5 answers total)
Is there any reason why you can't remove the mothballs yourself?
posted by erst at 9:17 AM on January 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Well, here's a factsheet that says inhaling mothball vapors is the same as inhaling insecticide.

But I might remove the mothballs myself. Or at least remove some of them--reduce their numbers to reduce the stench. I don't think I would 'fess up to it--just inform him they've been removed. Tell the landlord they need to bring the exterminator back--clearly they missed some holes. (Which is easy to do, because mice can squeeze through tiny holes!)
posted by purple_bird at 9:35 AM on January 20, 2017 [3 favorites]

My old landlords used cotton strips with peppermint oil to deal with our giant norway rat problem. Maybe recommend this as a less toxic remedy? Like most scent based treatments for rodents, it needs to be applied outside the apartments - once the mice get in, they'll just find a less smelly corner. It also needs to be refreshed more often than mothballs, about once a month vs. once every 3-6 months.
posted by congen at 11:10 AM on January 20, 2017

The mothballs are a worse problem for you and the other tenants than the rodents, and the kindest thing you can do for everybody, very much including the landlord, is to get rid of them immediately. Here's another factsheet. Here's how to safely collect the mothballs and dispose of them. Go ahead and do that and if the landlord complains, let him know it was making his tenants sick and you wanted to act fast before somebody called the health department and got him in trouble. You didn't want that to happen, given he was only trying to fix the problem and clearly didn't know that naphthalene is regulated chemical and the way he was using it violates federal law.
posted by Don Pepino at 12:37 PM on January 20, 2017 [5 favorites]

(Or you could leave the mothballs in the basement but seal them in one of those giant ziplocs they sell to store winter sweaters in and tape an enlarged copy of the pesticide warning label to it, the one that says, "It is a violation of Federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling.")
posted by Don Pepino at 12:42 PM on January 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

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