There are lots of well known causes of hearing loss, but not many people recognize the dangers that certain chemicals pose to their hearing. Groups that are at risk include automotive workers, plastics, textiles, metal fabrication, and petroleum. You can safeguard your quality of life by being aware of what these chemicals are and what precautions to take.
Certain chemicals could be harmful to your hearing
The word “ototoxic” means that something has a toxic effect on either the ears themselves or the nerves in the ears that help us hear. People can come in contact with chemicals that are “ototoxic” at home or in the workplace. They can absorb these chemicals through the skin, inhale, or ingest them. These chemicals can travel to the delicate nerves of the ears once they enter the body. The resulting hearing loss may be temporary or long-term, and the effect is even worse when noise exposure is also at high levels.
Five kinds of chemicals that can harm your hearing were identified by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA:
- Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants decrease the amount of oxygen in the air and consist of things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Vehicles, gas tools, stoves, and other appliances could put out harmful amounts of these chemicals.
- Solvents – Specific industries including plastics and insulation use solvents such as styrene and carbon disulfide in manufacturing. Wear all of your safety equipment and speak with your workplace safety officer if you work in these industries.
- Pharmaceuticals – Drugs, such as antibiotics, diuretics, and analgesics can damage hearing. You can find out if any medications you may be taking pose any hazards to your hearing by talking to your physician and your hearing specialist.
- Metals and compounds – Metals such as mercury and lead have other harmful effects on the body, but they can also cause hearing loss. People could frequently be exposed to these metals if they’re in the furniture or metal fabrication industries.
- Nitriles – Nitriles such as 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are used in making products including automotive rubber and seals, super glue, and latex gloves. Nitrile-based products can be useful because they help repel water, but exposure can damage your hearing.
If you are exposed to ototoxic chemicals, what can you do?
The best way to safeguard your hearing from chemical exposure is to take key precautions. Consult your employer about your level of exposure to these chemicals if you work in the automotive, pesticide spraying, plastics, firefighting, or construction industries. You need to utilize all safety equipment your job offers, such as protective gloves, garments, and masks.
When you are at home, read all safety materials on products and follow the instructions to the letter. Use appropriate ventilation, including opening windows, staying away from any chemicals, and asking for help if you can’t understand any of the labels. Loud noise and chemicals can have a cumulative impact on your hearing so if you find yourself in this type of situation, take extra precautions. If you can’t stay away from chemicals or are on medications, make sure you have regular hearing examinations so you can try to nip any problems in the bud. We can use our experience to help you come up with a plan to avoid any further damage.