There are lots of commonly known causes of hearing loss, but few people realize the dangers that some chemicals pose to their hearing. While there are numerous groups of people at risk, people in industries like textiles, petroleum, automotive, plastics, and metal fabrication have greater exposure. Knowing what these hazardous chemicals are and what safeguards you should take can help preserve your quality of life.
Your hearing could be harmed by certain chemicals
The ears themselves or the nerves inside of the ears can be toxically impacted by anything that has an “ototoxic” effect. People can come in contact with chemicals that are “ototoxic” in the workplace or at home. 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.
Five kinds of chemicals that can harm your hearing were defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA:
- 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 may put out harmful amounts of these chemicals.
- Pharmaceuticals – Drugs, including antibiotics, diuretics, and analgesics can harm your hearing. You can find out if any medications you may 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 lead to hearing loss on top of the harm they can do to other parts of the body. Individuals 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 contain nitriles such as acrylonitrile and butenenitrile. Because nitriles repel water, they are useful, but they can also contribute to hearing loss.
- Solvents – Certain industries such as plastics and insulation utilize solvents like styrene and carbon disulfide in manufacturing. If you work in these industries, consult your workplace safety officer about the degree of exposure you may have, and wear all of your safety equipment.
What can you do if you’re exposed to ototoxic chemicals?
The ideal way to safeguard your hearing from chemical exposure is to take key precautions. If you work in an industry like automotive, firefighting, plastics, pesticide spraying, or construction, ask your employer about exposure levels to these chemicals. Any safety equipment that is provided to you, like gloves, masks, or garments, make use of all of it.
When you are at home, go over all safety materials on products and follow the instructions to the letter. 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 impact on your hearing so if you find yourself in this kind of scenario, use extra precautions. If you can’t stay away from chemicals or are on medications, make sure you have regular hearing examinations so you can attempt to nip any problems in the bud. We are experienced in addressing the various causes of hearing loss and can help you come up with a plan to prevent further damage.