There are many commonly recognized causes of hearing loss, but not many people realize the dangers that certain chemicals pose 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.
Certain chemicals could be hazardous to your hearing
The ears themselves or the nerves of the ears can be toxically impacted by anything that has an “ototoxic” effect. Specific chemicals are ototoxic, and individuals can be exposed to these chemicals at home and in the workplace. They may absorb these chemicals through the skin, inhale, or ingest them. Once these chemicals get into the body, they can make their way to the delicate nerves and other parts of the ear. The resulting hearing loss could be temporary or permanent, 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 like lead and mercury can result in hearing loss in addition to the damage they can do to other parts of the body. People in the fabricated metal or furniture sectors may get exposed to these metals frequently.
- Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants decrease the amount of oxygen in the air and consist of things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Vehicles, gas tools, stoves, and other appliances may put out harmful amounts of these chemicals.
- Nitriles – Nitriles such as 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are used in making products such as automotive rubber and seals, super glue, and latex gloves. Because nitriles repel water, they are beneficial, but they can also result in hearing loss.
- Pharmaceuticals – Drugs, including antibiotics, diuretics, and analgesics can damage hearing. Talk to your physician and your hearing health specialist about any dangers posed by your medications.
- Solvents – Solvents, such as carbon disulfide and styrene, are utilized in certain industries like insulation and plastics. If you work in these fields, consult your workplace safety officer about the degree of exposure you may have, and use all of your safety equipment.
What can you do if you’re exposed to ototoxic chemicals?
Taking key precautions is the ideal way to safeguard your hearing from exposure to chemicals. If you work in an industry like automotive, firefighting, plastics, pesticide spraying, or construction, consult your employer about exposure levels to these chemicals. Make sure you use all safety equipment your job provides, such as protective gloves, garments, and masks.
When you are at home, read all safety labels on products and adhere to the instructions to the letter. Use proper ventilation, including opening windows, keeping away from any chemicals, and asking for help if you can’t decipher any of the labels. Take extra precautions if you are around noise at the same time as chemicals, as the two can have a cumulative effect on your hearing. Try to keep a step ahead of hearing loss by getting regular hearing exams if you are taking any ototoxic medications or you can’t avoid chemicals. We can use our experience to help you make a plan to prevent any further damage.