Most people are familiar with the known causes of hearing loss but don’t comprehend the dangers that everyday chemicals pose to their hearing. There is an greater exposure risk for people who work in metal fabrication, automotive-plastics, petroleum, and textiles. Your quality of life can be improved by realizing what these chemicals are and how to protect yourself.
Certain Chemicals Are Detrimental to Your Hearing. Why?
Something that has a toxic effect on the nerves of the ears or the ears themselves is known as ototoxic>. At home or in the workplace, individuals can be exposed to ototoxic chemicals. These chemicals can be absorbed by inhalation, through the skin, or by ingestion. Once these chemicals get into the body, they can affect the sensitive nerves and other parts of the ear. The resulting hearing loss may be temporary or permanent, and the impact is worse when noise exposure is also at high levels.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, defined five types of chemicals which can be hazardous to your hearing:
- Pharmaceuticals – Hearing can be damaged by medications like diuretics, antibiotics, and analgesics. Consult your regular doctor and your hearing health specialist about any dangers presented by your medications.
- Solvents – Solvents, such as styrene and carbon disulfide, are used in certain industries like insulation and plastics. If you work in these fields, speak with your workplace safety officer about how much exposure you may have, and use all of your safety equipment.
- Metals and Compounds – Hearing loss can be caused by metals like mercury and lead which also have other negative health effects. People in the fabricated metal or furniture industries could get exposed to these metals regularly.
- Asphyxiants – Things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke contain asphyxiants which decreased the amount of oxygen in the air. Vehicles, gas tools, stoves, and other appliances may produce harmful levels of these chemicals.
- Nitriles – Nitriles like 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are used in making products such as super glue, automotive rubber and seals, and latex gloves. Even though your hearing can be harmed by these nitrile based chemicals, they have the benefit of repelling water.
If You Are Exposed to These Ototoxic Chemicals, What Should You do?
Taking precautions is the key to safeguarding your hearing. If you work in a sector like plastics, automotive, fire-fighting, pesticide spraying, or construction, consult your employer about exposure levels to these chemicals. If your workplace provides safety equipment like protective garments, masks, or gloves, use them.
When you’re at home, read all safety labels on products and follow the instructions to the letter. Use proper ventilation, including opening windows, and staying away from any chemicals or asking for help if you can’t understand any of the labels. Take added precautions if you are exposed to 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 routine hearing tests so you can try to get ahead of any problems. The numerous causes of hearing loss are well understood by hearing specialists so schedule an appointment for a hearing exam in order to prevent further damage.