There are many well recognized causes of hearing loss, but not many people recognize the dangers that some chemicals present to their hearing. Groups that are at risk 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.
Your hearing could be harmed by some chemicals
The ears themselves or the nerves inside of the ears can be toxically affected by anything that has an “ototoxic” effect. Certain chemicals are ototoxic, and people can be exposed to these chemicals at home and in the workplace. They can absorb these chemicals through the skin, inhale, or ingest them. Once these chemicals are in the body, they can travel to the fragile nerves and other parts of the ear. Noise exposure will increase the negative impact, whether permanent or temporary, of ototoxic hearing loss.
Five kinds of chemicals that can harm your hearing were identified by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA:
- Metals and compounds – Metals including lead and mercury can cause hearing loss on top of the harm they can do to other parts of the body. People may frequently be exposed to these metals if they work in the furniture or metal fabrication industries.
- Pharmaceuticals – Your hearing can be damaged by medications that contain antibiotics, analgesics, and diuretics. You can find out if any medications you might be taking pose any dangers to your hearing by talking with your physician and your hearing specialist.
- Asphyxiants – The level of oxygen in the air is decreased 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.
- Solvents – Solvents, like carbon disulfide and styrene, are utilized in certain industries like insulation and plastics. Use all of your safety equipment and talk to your workplace safety officer if you work in these industries.
- Nitriles – Automotive rubber and seals, super glue and latex glove contain nitriles including acrylonitrile and butenenitrile. Because nitriles repel water, they are beneficial, but they can also result in hearing loss.
What should you do if you’re exposed to ototoxic chemicals?
The best 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. Any safety equipment that is provided to you, including gloves, masks, or garments, use all of it.
Read and follow all of the safety instructions listed on product labels. Use appropriate ventilation, including opening windows, keeping away from any chemicals, and asking for help if you are unable to decipher any of the labels. Loud noise and chemicals can have a cumulative effect on your hearing so if you find yourself in this type of scenario, take extra precautions. Try to keep a step ahead of hearing loss by having regular screenings if you are using any ototoxic medications or you can’t avoid chemicals. We are experienced in addressing the various causes of hearing loss and can help you come up with a plan to prevent further damage.