There are many commonly recognized causes of hearing loss, but not many people recognize the dangers that certain chemicals present to their hearing. Groups that are at risk include automotive workers, plastics, textiles, metal fabrication, and petroleum. You can safeguard your quality of life by knowing what these chemicals are and what precautions to take.
Your hearing could be damaged by certain chemicals
The ears themselves or the nerves of the ears can be toxically impacted by anything that has an “ototoxic” effect. People can come in contact with chemicals that are “ototoxic” at home or in the workplace. They may absorb these chemicals through the skin, breathe, or ingest them. Once these chemicals get into the body, they can travel to the fragile nerves and other parts of the ear. Noise exposure will multiply the negative effects, whether permanent or temporary, of ototoxic hearing loss.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, defined five kinds of chemicals that can be harmful to hearing:
- Solvents – Specific industries including plastics and insulation use solvents like styrene and carbon disulfide in manufacturing. Use all of your safety equipment and speak with 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 learn if any medications you might be taking pose any dangers to your hearing by consulting your physician and your hearing specialist.
- Metals and compounds – Metals including lead and mercury can cause hearing loss in addition to the harm they can do to other parts of the body. People in the fabricated metal or furniture industries might get exposed to these metals often.
- Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants reduce the quantity of oxygen in the air and include things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Harmful levels of these chemicals are frequently put out by things like stoves, gas engines, and other appliances.
- Nitriles – Nitriles such as 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are used in making products including automotive rubber and seals, super glue, and latex gloves. Nitrile-based products can be beneficial because they help repel water, but exposure can harm your hearing.
If you are exposed to ototoxic chemicals, what should you do?
The ideal way to protect your hearing from chemical exposure is to take key precautions. Ask your employer about your level of exposure to these chemicals if you work in the automotive, pesticide spraying, plastics, firefighting, or construction industries. Any safety equipment that is provided 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 are unable to understand 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 examinations so you can try to nip any problems in the bud. We can use our experience to help you come up with a plan to avoid any further damage.