Most people recognize the common causes of hearing loss, but certain chemicals can also cause hearing loss which can be surprising. Groups that are at risk include automotive workers, plastics, textiles, metal fabrication, and petroleum. You can protect your quality of life by being aware of what these chemicals are and what precautions to take.
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 with hearing. Specific chemicals are ototoxic, and individuals can be exposed to these chemicals at home and in the workplace. These chemicals can be inhaled, absorbed, or ingested. These chemicals can travel to the sensitive nerves of the ears once they get into the body. The resulting hearing loss may be temporary or long-term, and the effect is worse when noise exposure is also at high levels.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, defined five kinds of chemicals that can be harmful to hearing:
- Solvents – Solvents, such as carbon disulfide and styrene, are utilized in certain industries such as insulation and plastics. If you work in these industries, consult your workplace safety officer about the degree of exposure you might have, and wear all of your safety equipment.
- Metals and compounds – Metals including lead and mercury can lead to hearing loss in addition to the damage they can do to other parts of the body. Individuals may regularly be exposed to these metals if they work in the furniture or metal fabrication industries.
- Pharmaceuticals – Your hearing can be harmed by medications that contain antibiotics, analgesics, and diuretics. Speak with 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. Because nitriles repel water, they are beneficial, but they can also cause hearing loss.
- Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants reduce the quantity of oxygen in the air and consist of things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Vehicles, gas tools, stoves, and other appliances could put out harmful amounts of these chemicals.
If you are exposed to ototoxic chemicals, what can you do?
Taking key precautions is the ideal way to safeguard your hearing from exposure to chemicals. Consult your employer about your level of exposure to these chemicals if you work in the automotive, pesticide spraying, plastics, firefighting, or construction industries. You need to utilize all safety equipment your job provides, such as protective gloves, garments, and masks.
Read and adhere to all of the safety instructions listed on product labels. Use appropriate ventilation, including opening windows, keeping away from any chemicals, and asking for help if you can’t decipher any of the labels. Use extra safety measures if you are around noise at the same time as chemicals, as the two can have a cumulative effect on your hearing. If you can’t stay away from chemicals or are on medications, be certain you have regular hearing examinations so you can attempt to nip any problems in the bud. We can use our experience to help you develop a plan to prevent any further damage.