There are many commonly recognized causes of hearing loss, but few people recognize the dangers that certain 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. You can protect your quality of life by knowing what these chemicals are and what precautions to take.
Some chemicals could be hazardous to your hearing
The word “ototoxic” means that something has a toxic effect on either the ears themselves or the nerves inside of the ears that help with hearing. People can be exposed to chemicals that are “ototoxic” at home or in the workplace. These chemicals can be breathed in, absorbed, or ingested. These chemicals can make their way to the sensitive nerves of the ears once they enter the body. The resulting hearing loss could be temporary or long-term, and the effect is even worse when noise exposure is also at high levels.
Five types of chemicals that can harm your hearing were recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA:
- Nitriles – Nitriles such as 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are utilized in making products such as automotive rubber and seals, super glue, and latex gloves. Nitrile-based products can be useful because they help repel water, but exposure can damage your hearing.
- Metals and compounds – Metals such as mercury and lead have other adverse effects on the body, but they can also trigger hearing loss. People in the fabricated metal or furniture sectors might get exposed to these metals often.
- Solvents – Solvents, like carbon disulfide and styrene, are utilized in certain industries such as insulation and plastics. Use all of your safety equipment and talk to your workplace safety officer if you work in these sectors.
- Asphyxiants – The amount of oxygen in the air is reduced by asphyxiants, that includes things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Harmful amounts of these chemicals are often put out by things like stoves, gas engines, and other appliances.
- Pharmaceuticals – Drugs, including antibiotics, diuretics, and analgesics can harm your hearing. You can determine if any medications you might be using present any dangers to your hearing by consulting your physician and your hearing specialist.
If you are exposed to ototoxic chemicals, what should you do?
Taking key precautions is the best way to safeguard your hearing from exposure to chemicals. If you work in an industry such as automotive, firefighting, plastics, pesticide spraying, or construction, consult your employer about exposure levels to these chemicals. Whatever safety equipment that is supplied to you, like gloves, masks, or garments, use all of it.
When you are at home, go over all safety labels on products and adhere to the instructions to the letter. Use appropriate ventilation, including opening windows, staying 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 impact on your hearing. If you can’t stay away from chemicals or are on medications, be certain you have regular hearing assessments so you can try to nip any problems in the bud. We are experienced in dealing with the numerous causes of hearing loss and can help you put together a plan to prevent further damage.