There are many commonly recognized causes of hearing loss, but few people realize the dangers that certain chemicals pose to their hearing. While there are several groups of people at risk, people in industries like textiles, petroleum, automotive, plastics, and metal fabrication have increased exposure. Being aware of what these harmful chemicals are and what safeguards you should take can help preserve your quality of life.
Your hearing could be damaged by certain chemicals
The word “ototoxic” means that something has a toxic effect on either the ears themselves or the nerves inside of the ears that help us hear. Specific chemicals are ototoxic, and individuals can be exposed to these chemicals 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 impact, whether permanent or temporary, of ototoxic hearing loss.
Five kinds of chemicals that can damage your hearing were identified by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA:
- Metals and compounds – Metals like mercury and lead have other harmful effects on the body, but they can also lead to hearing loss. People in the fabricated metal or furniture sectors might get exposed to these metals frequently.
- Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants decrease the quantity of oxygen in the air and include things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Vehicles, gas tools, stoves, and other appliances could put out harmful amounts of these chemicals.
- Nitriles – Nitriles like 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are utilized in producing products including automotive rubber and seals, super glue, and latex gloves. Because nitriles repel water, they are useful, but they can also result in hearing loss.
- Solvents – Specific industries such as plastics and insulation utilize solvents such as styrene and carbon disulfide in manufacturing. Wear all of your safety equipment and talk to your workplace safety officer if you work in these industries.
- Pharmaceuticals – Your hearing can be damaged by medications that contain antibiotics, analgesics, and diuretics. You can figure out if any medications you might be using present any hazards to your hearing by consulting your physician and your hearing specialist.
If you are exposed to ototoxic chemicals, what should you do?
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. Whatever safety equipment that is available to you, like gloves, masks, or garments, make use of all of it.
Read and adhere to all of the safety instructions listed on product labels. Use proper ventilation, including opening windows, keeping away from any chemicals, and asking for help if you are unable to understand any of the labels. Take extra precautions if you’re around noise at the same time as chemicals, as the two can have a cumulative impact on your hearing. If you can’t stay away from chemicals or are on medications, be certain you have regular hearing tests so you can try to nip any problems in the bud. We are experienced in addressing the numerous causes of hearing loss and can help you come up with a plan to prevent further damage.