There are lots of commonly recognized causes of hearing loss, but few people realize the dangers that some chemicals present 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 safeguards you should take can help protect your quality of life.
Your hearing could be damaged by certain chemicals
The word “ototoxic” means that something is toxic to either the ears themselves or the nerves in the ears that help with hearing. Certain chemicals are ototoxic, and people can be exposed to these chemicals at home and in the workplace. These chemicals can be breathed in, absorbed, or ingested. Once these chemicals get into the body, they can make their way to the delicate nerves and other parts of the ear. The resulting hearing loss might be temporary or long-term, and the effect is even worse when noise exposure is also at high levels.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, defined five kinds of chemicals that can be harmful to hearing:
- Solvents – Specific industries such as plastics and insulation utilize solvents like styrene and carbon disulfide in manufacturing. If you work in these fields, speak with your workplace safety officer about the level of exposure you might have, and wear all of your safety equipment.
- Asphyxiants – The level of oxygen in the air is reduced by asphyxiants, including things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Vehicles, gas tools, stoves, and other appliances may put out harmful amounts of these chemicals.
- Metals and compounds – Metals including lead and mercury can lead to hearing loss on top of the harm they can do to other parts of the body. People in the fabricated metal or furniture sectors might get exposed to these metals often.
- Pharmaceuticals – Drugs, such as antibiotics, diuretics, and analgesics can harm your hearing. You can figure out if any medications you might be using present any hazards to your hearing by talking with your physician and your hearing specialist.
- Nitriles – Nitriles like 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are utilized in making 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.
If you are exposed to ototoxic chemicals, what should you do?
Taking key precautions is the best way to safeguard your hearing from exposure to chemicals. Consult your employer about your degree of exposure to these chemicals if you work in the automotive, pesticide spraying, plastics, firefighting, or construction industries. Whatever safety equipment that is supplied to you, including gloves, masks, or garments, use all of it.
When you are at home, go over all safety labels on products and adhere to the instructions to the letter. Use proper 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. Try to stay a step ahead of hearing loss by getting regular hearing exams if you are taking any ototoxic medications or you can’t stay away from chemicals. We are experienced in dealing with the numerous causes of hearing loss and can help you put together a plan to avoid further damage.