There are lots of commonly known causes of hearing loss, but not many people recognize the dangers that certain chemicals pose to their hearing. While there are several groups of people at risk, individuals in industries like textiles, petroleum, automotive, plastics, and metal fabrication have greater exposure. You can safeguard your quality of life by being aware of what these chemicals are and what precautions to take.
Some 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 inside of the ears that help with hearing. People can come in contact with chemicals that are “ototoxic” at home or in the workplace. They could absorb these chemicals through the skin, inhale, or ingest them. Once these chemicals get into the body, they can travel to the delicate nerves and other parts of the ear. The resulting hearing loss might be temporary or long-term, and the effect is worse when noise exposure is also at high levels.
Five kinds of chemicals that can harm your hearing were recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA:
- Metals and compounds – Metals including lead and mercury can cause hearing loss in addition to the harm they can do to other parts of the body. Individuals could frequently be exposed to these metals if they work in the furniture or metal fabrication industries.
- Nitriles – Nitriles like 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are used in producing products such as automotive rubber and seals, super glue, and latex gloves. Because nitriles repel water, they are useful, but they can also contribute to hearing loss.
- Solvents – Certain industries including plastics and insulation utilize solvents such as styrene and carbon disulfide in manufacturing. If you work in these industries, speak with your workplace safety officer about the degree of exposure you may have, and use all of your safety equipment.
- Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants lower the quantity of oxygen in the air and consist of things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Harmful amounts of these chemicals are often put out by things like stoves, gas engines, and other appliances.
- Pharmaceuticals – Your hearing can be harmed by medications that contain antibiotics, analgesics, and diuretics. You can find out if any medications you may be taking present any hazards to your hearing by consulting your physician and your hearing specialist.
What should you do if you’re exposed to ototoxic chemicals?
Taking key precautions is the best way to safeguard your hearing from exposure to chemicals. Ask your employer about your level of exposure to these chemicals if you work in the automotive, pesticide spraying, plastics, firefighting, or construction industries. Whatever safety equipment that is available to you, like gloves, masks, or garments, use all of it.
When you are at home, read all safety labels on products and adhere to the instructions to the letter. If you can, stay away from any chemicals, open up windows, use appropriate ventilation, and request help with any instructions you can’t understand. Use extra safety measures if you’re around noise at the same time as chemicals, as the two can have a cumulative effect on your hearing. If you can’t stay away from chemicals or are on medications, make sure you have regular hearing exams 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.