There are many commonly known causes of hearing loss, but few 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. Being aware of what these harmful chemicals are and what precautions you should take can help protect your quality of life.
Some chemicals could be harmful to your hearing
The word “ototoxic” means that something is toxic to either the ears themselves or the nerves inside of the ears that help with hearing. People can be exposed to chemicals that are “ototoxic” at home or in the workplace. These chemicals can be breathed in, absorbed, or ingested. These chemicals can travel to the sensitive nerves of the ears once they get into the body. The resulting hearing loss could be temporary or permanent, and the effect is even worse when noise exposure is also at high levels.
Five kinds of chemicals that can harm your hearing were defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA:
- Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants decrease the quantity of oxygen in the air and include things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Harmful amounts of these chemicals are frequently put out by things like stoves, gas engines, and other appliances.
- Nitriles – Nitriles such as 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are utilized in producing products such as automotive rubber and seals, super glue, and latex gloves. Nitrile-based products can be useful because they help repel water, but exposure can harm your hearing.
- Solvents – Solvents, such as carbon disulfide and styrene, are employed in some industries like insulation and plastics. If you work in these industries, talk to your workplace safety officer about the degree of exposure you may have, and wear all of your safety equipment.
- Metals and compounds – Metals like lead and mercury can cause hearing loss on top of the damage they can do to other parts of the body. Individuals could regularly be exposed to these metals if they’re in the furniture or metal fabrication industries.
- Pharmaceuticals – Drugs, including antibiotics, diuretics, and analgesics can harm your hearing. Talk to your physician and your hearing health specialist about any dangers posed by your medications.
If you are exposed to ototoxic chemicals, what can you do?
The ideal way to protect 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 use every safety material your job supplies, like protective gloves, garments, and masks.
Read and follow all of the safety guidelines listed on product labels. Use proper ventilation, including opening windows, keeping away from any chemicals, and asking for help if you can’t understand any of the labels. Take extra precautions if you are around noise at the same time as chemicals, as the two can have a cumulative effect on your hearing. If you can’t avoid chemicals or are on medications, make sure you have regular hearing examinations so you can try to nip any problems in the bud. We are experienced in addressing the various causes of hearing loss and can help you formulate a plan to prevent further damage.