There are lots of commonly known causes of hearing loss, but not many people realize the dangers that certain chemicals pose to their hearing. At risk groups 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 preserve your quality of life.
Some chemicals could be hazardous to your hearing
The word “ototoxic” means that something has a toxic effect on either the ears themselves or the nerves in the ears that help us hear. Specific chemicals are ototoxic, and people can be exposed to these chemicals at home and in the workplace. These chemicals can be inhaled, absorbed, or ingested. Once these chemicals are in the body, they can make their way to the fragile nerves and other parts of the ear. Noise exposure will multiply the negative impact, whether permanent or temporary, of ototoxic hearing loss.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, defined five kinds of chemicals that can be hazardous to hearing:
- Pharmaceuticals – Drugs, including antibiotics, diuretics, and analgesics can harm your hearing. You can find out if any medications you might be taking pose any hazards to your hearing by talking to your physician and your hearing specialist.
- Metals and compounds – Metals including lead and mercury can result in hearing loss on top of the damage they can do to other parts of the body. People may frequently be exposed to these metals if they’re in the furniture or metal fabrication industries.
- Nitriles – Automotive rubber and seals, super glue and latex glove have nitriles such as acrylonitrile and butenenitrile. Because nitriles repel water, they are useful, but they can also result in hearing loss.
- Solvents – Solvents, like carbon disulfide and styrene, are utilized in some industries like insulation and plastics. If you work in these fields, consult your workplace safety officer about the degree of exposure you might have, and wear all of your safety equipment.
- Asphyxiants – The amount of oxygen in the air is reduced by asphyxiants, that includes 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 best way to protect 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, including gloves, masks, or garments, make use of all of it.
Read and adhere to all of the safety instructions listed on product labels. If you can, stay away from any chemicals, open up windows, use proper ventilation, and ask for 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 scenario, take extra precautions. If you can’t avoid chemicals or are on medications, be certain you have regular hearing tests so you can attempt to nip any problems in the bud. We are experienced in dealing with the numerous causes of hearing loss and can help you come up with a plan to prevent further damage.