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Ask the Medical Expert Archives 2000-2004

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Chemical Exposure
September 2003

Q. I'm a male and I believe I might have been exposed to a chemical such as a pesticide. I was wearing boxers when I spilled pesticide on myself when I was working in the garden. It did cause some skin irritation on the scrotum. I was wondering if this 3 or 4 day exposure will sufficiently increase my chance of having a child with birth defects. I went to my doctor but he didn't mention anything. Can you give me some insight on this?

A. There are certainly many chemicals available for house or garden use that can cause problems from exposure. This would particularly be a concern for chemical exposure to the eye or mucus membranes, moist surfaces such as the mouth.

Skin is a good barrier, but strong chemicals can cause direct skin trauma, and possibly some absorption into the body. Commercial products generally have phone numbers to call if exposure has occurred, and the individual ingredients can be studied for their potential toxicity.

I would encourage you to call the manufacturer and further investigate the ingredients at the following websites:

http://www.cdc.gov/nasd/docs/d000901-d001000/d000989/d000989.html

http://householdproducts.nlm.nih.gov/

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