There are lots of commonly recognized causes of hearing loss, but not many people realize the dangers that certain chemicals pose to their hearing. While there are numerous groups of people at risk, those in industries such as textiles, petroleum, automotive, plastics, and metal fabrication have greater exposure. You can protect your quality of life by knowing what these chemicals are and what precautions to take.
Your hearing could be harmed by certain chemicals
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 come in contact with chemicals that are “ototoxic” at home or in the workplace. These chemicals can be inhaled, absorbed, or ingested. These chemicals can make their way to the delicate nerves of the ears once they get into the body. Noise exposure will multiply the negative effects, whether permanent or temporary, of ototoxic hearing loss.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, defined five kinds of chemicals that can be harmful to hearing:
- Solvents – Solvents, like carbon disulfide and styrene, are used in certain industries such as insulation and plastics. Wear all of your safety equipment and talk to your workplace safety officer if you work in these sectors.
- Metals and compounds – Metals like mercury and lead have other negative effects on the body, but they can also trigger hearing loss. People in the fabricated metal or furniture industries may get exposed to these metals frequently.
- Asphyxiants – The amount of oxygen in the air is reduced by asphyxiants, including things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Vehicles, gas tools, stoves, and other appliances could put out harmful levels of these chemicals.
- Nitriles – Nitriles such as 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are utilized in making products such as automotive rubber and seals, super glue, and latex gloves. Because nitriles repel water, they are useful, but they can also result in hearing loss.
- Pharmaceuticals – Drugs, such as antibiotics, diuretics, and analgesics can damage hearing. Speak with your physician and your hearing health specialist about any hazards posed by your medications.
If you are exposed to ototoxic chemicals, what should you do?
The ideal way to safeguard your hearing from chemical exposure is to take key precautions. Ask your employer about your degree of exposure to these chemicals if you work in the automotive, pesticide spraying, plastics, firefighting, or construction industries. Make sure you use all safety equipment your job offers, such as protective gloves, garments, and masks.
Read and follow all of the safety instructions listed on product labels. If you can, stay away from any chemicals, open up windows, use appropriate ventilation, and request help with any instructions you don’t comprehend. Loud noise and chemicals can have a cumulative impact on your hearing so if you find yourself in this kind of situation, take extra precautions. Try to keep a step ahead of hearing loss by getting regular screenings if you are taking any ototoxic medications or you can’t avoid chemicals. We are experienced in addressing the various causes of hearing loss and can help you put together a plan to avoid further damage.