There are many commonly known causes of hearing loss, but not many people recognize the dangers that some chemicals present to their hearing. While there are numerous groups of people at risk, those in industries such as textiles, petroleum, automotive, plastics, and metal fabrication have increased exposure. Being aware of what these harmful chemicals are and what precautions you should take can help preserve your quality of life.
Certain chemicals could be hazardous to your hearing
The word “ototoxic” means that something is toxic to either the ears themselves or the nerves inside of the ears that help us hear. People can be exposed to chemicals that are “ototoxic” at home or in the workplace. 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 increase the negative effects, whether permanent or temporary, of ototoxic hearing loss.
Five types of chemicals that can damage your hearing were recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA:
- Pharmaceuticals – Drugs, such as antibiotics, diuretics, and analgesics can damage hearing. Talk to your physician and your hearing health specialist about any dangers posed by your medications.
- Nitriles – Automotive rubber and seals, super glue and latex glove contain nitriles such as acrylonitrile and butenenitrile. Nitrile-based products can be useful because they help repel water, but exposure can damage your hearing.
- Solvents – Solvents, such as carbon disulfide and styrene, are utilized in certain industries like insulation and plastics. Use all of your safety equipment and consult your workplace safety officer if you work in these sectors.
- Metals and compounds – Metals such as mercury and lead have other harmful effects on the body, but they can also result in hearing loss. People in the fabricated metal or furniture industries may get exposed to these metals often.
- 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 could put out harmful levels of these chemicals.
If you are exposed to ototoxic chemicals, what can you do?
Taking key precautions is the best way to safeguard your hearing from exposure to chemicals. Consult your employer about your degree of exposure to these chemicals if you work in the automotive, pesticide spraying, plastics, firefighting, or construction industries. Make sure you utilize all safety equipment your job supplies, such as protective gloves, garments, and masks.
Read and follow all of the safety instructions listed on product labels. If you can, keep away from any chemicals, open up windows, use appropriate ventilation, and request help with any instructions you can’t understand. Take extra precautions if you’re around noise at the same time as chemicals, as the two can have a cumulative effect on your hearing. Try to stay 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 numerous causes of hearing loss and can help you formulate a plan to prevent further damage.