Most people recognize the common causes of hearing loss, but certain chemicals can also lead to hearing loss which can be surprising. While there are several groups of people at risk, individuals in industries such as textiles, petroleum, automotive, plastics, and metal fabrication have increased exposure. You can safeguard your quality of life by knowing what these chemicals are and what precautions to take.
Some chemicals could be harmful to your hearing
The word “ototoxic” means that something has a toxic effect on either the ears themselves or the nerves in the ears that help with hearing. Certain chemicals are ototoxic, and people can be exposed to these chemicals at home and in the workplace. They could absorb these chemicals through the skin, inhale, or ingest them. These chemicals can make their way to the delicate nerves of the ears once they enter the body. Noise exposure will multiply the negative impact, whether permanent or temporary, of ototoxic hearing loss.
Five types of chemicals that can harm your hearing were recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA:
- Solvents – Specific industries including plastics and insulation use solvents like 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 taking present any dangers to your hearing by talking with your physician and your hearing specialist.
- Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants decrease the amount of oxygen in the air and include things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Harmful amounts of these chemicals are frequently produced by things like stoves, gas engines, and other appliances.
- Nitriles – Nitriles such as 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are utilized in making products including automotive rubber and seals, super glue, and latex gloves. Because nitriles repel water, they are useful, but they can also contribute to hearing loss.
- Metals and compounds – Metals like lead and mercury can cause hearing loss on top of the damage they can do to other parts of the body. People in the fabricated metal or furniture sectors may get exposed to these metals often.
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 like automotive, firefighting, plastics, pesticide spraying, or construction, ask 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.
Read and follow 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 understand any of the labels. Loud noise and chemicals can have a cumulative impact on your hearing so if you find yourself in this type of scenario, take extra precautions. Try to stay a step ahead of hearing loss by getting regular screenings if you are taking any ototoxic medications or you can’t stay away from chemicals. We can use our experience to help you develop a plan to avoid any further damage.