There are many well recognized causes of hearing loss, but not many people realize the dangers that some chemicals present to their hearing. At risk groups include automotive workers, plastics, textiles, metal fabrication, and petroleum. You can safeguard your quality of life by knowing what these chemicals are and what precautions to take.
Certain chemicals could be harmful to your hearing
The word “ototoxic” means that something is toxic to either the ears themselves or the nerves in the ears that help us hear. People can be exposed to chemicals that are “ototoxic” at home or in the workplace. They may absorb these chemicals through the skin, breathe, or ingest them. These chemicals can travel to the sensitive nerves of the ears once they get into the body. Noise exposure will multiply the negative impact, whether permanent or temporary, of ototoxic hearing loss.
Five types of chemicals that can harm your hearing were recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA:
- Pharmaceuticals – Your hearing can be damaged by medications that have antibiotics, analgesics, and diuretics. Consult your physician and your hearing health specialist about any dangers posed by your medications.
- Nitriles – Nitriles such as 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are used in producing products such as automotive rubber and seals, super glue, and latex gloves. Nitrile-based products can be beneficial because they help repel water, but exposure can harm your hearing.
- Solvents – Solvents, such as carbon disulfide and styrene, are utilized in certain industries such as insulation and plastics. Use all of your safety equipment and speak with your workplace safety officer if you work in these sectors.
- Metals and compounds – Metals including lead and mercury can lead to hearing loss in addition to the harm they can do to other parts of the body. Individuals in the fabricated metal or furniture industries may get exposed to these metals frequently.
- Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants decrease the quantity of oxygen in the air and consist of things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Vehicles, gas tools, stoves, and other appliances may put out harmful amounts of these chemicals.
If you are exposed to ototoxic chemicals, what can you do?
Taking key precautions is the ideal way to protect your hearing from exposure to chemicals. Consult your employer about your level of exposure to these chemicals if you work in the automotive, pesticide spraying, plastics, firefighting, or construction industries. Any safety equipment that is supplied to you, like gloves, masks, or garments, make use of all of it.
Read and adhere to all of the safety guidelines listed on product labels. Use appropriate ventilation, including opening windows, staying away from any chemicals, and asking for help if you can’t decipher 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. Try to stay a step ahead of hearing loss by getting regular hearing exams if you are using any ototoxic medications or you can’t stay away from chemicals. We are experienced in addressing the numerous causes of hearing loss and can help you formulate a plan to avoid further damage.