Most people recognize the common causes of hearing loss, but some chemicals can also lead to hearing loss which can be surprising. At risk groups 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.
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 inside of the ears that help with hearing. People can be exposed to chemicals that are “ototoxic” in the workplace or at home. These chemicals can be breathed in, absorbed, or ingested. These chemicals can make their way to the sensitive nerves of the ears once they get into the body. Noise exposure will increase the negative effects, whether permanent or temporary, of ototoxic hearing loss.
Five kinds of chemicals that can damage your hearing were defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA:
- Metals and compounds – Metals like mercury and lead have other negative effects on the body, but they can also cause hearing loss. Individuals in the fabricated metal or furniture sectors might get exposed to these metals often.
- Solvents – Certain industries including plastics and insulation utilize solvents such as styrene and carbon disulfide in manufacturing. Use all of your safety equipment and speak with your workplace safety officer if you work in these industries.
- Nitriles – Nitriles like 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are utilized 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 cause hearing loss.
- Asphyxiants – The level of oxygen in the air is reduced by asphyxiants, including things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Harmful amounts of these chemicals are frequently produced by things like stoves, gas engines, and other appliances.
- Pharmaceuticals – Drugs, such as antibiotics, diuretics, and analgesics can harm your hearing. You can learn if any medications you may be using pose any dangers to your hearing by talking to your physician and your hearing specialist.
If you are exposed to ototoxic chemicals, what should you do?
Taking key precautions is the best way to protect your hearing from exposure to chemicals. If you work in an industry like automotive, firefighting, plastics, pesticide spraying, or construction, ask your employer about exposure levels to these chemicals. Make sure you utilize all safety equipment your job supplies, like protective gloves, garments, and masks.
When you are at home, read all safety materials on products and follow the instructions to the letter. Use proper ventilation, including opening windows, staying 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 impact on your hearing so if you find yourself in this type of scenario, take extra precautions. Try to stay a step ahead of hearing loss by getting regular screenings if you are taking any ototoxic medications or you can’t stay away from chemicals. We can use our experience to help you make a plan to prevent any further damage.