There are lots of well recognized causes of hearing loss, but not many people realize the dangers that some chemicals present to their hearing. While there are numerous groups of people at risk, people in industries such as textiles, petroleum, automotive, plastics, and metal fabrication have greater exposure. You can protect your quality of life by knowing what these chemicals are and what precautions to take.
Your hearing could be harmed by certain chemicals
The word “ototoxic” means that something is toxic to either the ears themselves or the nerves inside of the ears that help with hearing. People can be exposed to chemicals that are “ototoxic” in the workplace or at home. They could absorb these chemicals through the skin, breathe, or ingest them. Once these chemicals are in the body, they can travel to the delicate nerves and other parts of the ear. The resulting hearing loss could be temporary or permanent, and the impact is worse when noise exposure is also at high levels.
Five kinds of chemicals that can harm your hearing were defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA:
- Nitriles – Nitriles like 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are utilized in producing products such as automotive rubber and seals, super glue, and latex gloves. Because nitriles repel water, they are beneficial, but they can also contribute to hearing loss.
- Pharmaceuticals – Drugs, such as antibiotics, diuretics, and analgesics can damage hearing. You can find out if any medications you may be using pose any dangers to your hearing by consulting your physician and your hearing specialist.
- Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants decrease the quantity of oxygen in the air and include 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.
- Solvents – Solvents, such as carbon disulfide and styrene, are used in some industries like insulation and plastics. If you work in these fields, consult your workplace safety officer about the level of exposure you may have, and use all of your safety equipment.
- Metals and compounds – Metals such as mercury and lead have other negative effects on the body, but they can also lead to hearing loss. Individuals may frequently be exposed to these metals if they work in the furniture or metal fabrication industries.
What should you do if you’re exposed to ototoxic chemicals?
Taking key precautions is the best way to protect 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, read all safety materials on products and follow the instructions to the letter. If you can, stay away from any chemicals, open up windows, use proper ventilation, and request help with any instructions you can’t understand. Loud noise and chemicals can have a cumulative impact on your hearing so if you find yourself in this type of situation, take extra precautions. Try to stay a step ahead of hearing loss by having regular hearing exams if you are taking any ototoxic medications or you can’t stay away from chemicals. We are experienced in dealing with the numerous causes of hearing loss and can help you come up with a plan to avoid further damage.