There are many well recognized causes of hearing loss, but few people realize the dangers that certain chemicals present to their hearing. Groups that are at risk include automotive workers, plastics, textiles, metal fabrication, and petroleum. Being aware of what these hazardous chemicals are and what precautions you should take can help protect your quality of life.
Your hearing could be damaged by certain chemicals
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 individuals can be exposed to these chemicals at home and in the workplace. They may absorb these chemicals through the skin, inhale, or ingest them. These chemicals can travel to the delicate 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, recognized five kinds of chemicals that can be harmful to hearing:
- Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants reduce the quantity of oxygen in the air and include things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Vehicles, gas tools, stoves, and other appliances may put out harmful levels of these chemicals.
- Solvents – Certain industries including plastics and insulation use solvents like styrene and carbon disulfide in manufacturing. If you work in these fields, talk to your workplace safety officer about the degree of exposure you may have, and wear all of your safety equipment.
- Nitriles – Automotive rubber and seals, super glue and latex glove have nitriles including acrylonitrile and butenenitrile. Nitrile-based products can be beneficial because they help repel water, but exposure can damage your hearing.
- Pharmaceuticals – Your hearing can be harmed by medications that have antibiotics, analgesics, and diuretics. Consult your physician and your hearing health specialist about any dangers posed by your medications.
- Metals and compounds – Metals like lead and mercury can result in hearing loss on top of the harm they can do to other parts of the body. Individuals in the fabricated metal or furniture sectors might get exposed to these metals often.
If you are exposed to ototoxic chemicals, what can you do?
The ideal way to safeguard 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. Make sure you use all safety equipment your job offers, such as protective gloves, garments, and masks.
Read and adhere to all of the safety guidelines listed on product labels. If you can, keep away from any chemicals, open up windows, use proper ventilation, and request help with any instructions you can’t comprehend. 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. Try to keep a step ahead of hearing loss by getting regular hearing exams if you are taking any ototoxic medications or you can’t stay away from chemicals. We are experienced in addressing the numerous causes of hearing loss and can help you formulate a plan to prevent further damage.