There are lots of commonly recognized causes of hearing loss, but few 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. Knowing what these hazardous chemicals are and what precautions you should take can help protect your quality of life.
Certain chemicals could be hazardous 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. People can be exposed to chemicals that are “ototoxic” at home or in the workplace. These chemicals can be inhaled, absorbed, or ingested. These chemicals can travel to the delicate nerves of the ears once they enter the body. Noise exposure will multiply the negative effects, whether permanent or temporary, of ototoxic hearing loss.
Five kinds of chemicals that can harm your hearing were recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA:
- Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants lower 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 amounts of these chemicals.
- Pharmaceuticals – Drugs, such as antibiotics, diuretics, and analgesics can damage hearing. Speak with your physician and your hearing health specialist about any dangers posed by your medications.
- Metals and compounds – Metals such as mercury and lead have other adverse effects on the body, but they can also trigger hearing loss. Individuals could frequently be exposed to these metals if they’re in the furniture or metal fabrication industries.
- Nitriles – Nitriles like 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are used in producing products such as 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.
- Solvents – Certain industries including plastics and insulation utilize 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.
What should you do if you’re exposed to ototoxic chemicals?
The ideal way to safeguard your hearing from chemical exposure is to take key precautions. If you work in an industry like automotive, firefighting, plastics, pesticide spraying, or construction, consult your employer about exposure levels to these chemicals. Make sure you use every safety material your job provides, such as protective gloves, garments, and masks.
Read and adhere to all of the safety guidelines listed on product labels. Use appropriate ventilation, including opening windows, keeping away from any chemicals, and asking for help if you are unable to decipher 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. Try to stay a step ahead of hearing loss by getting regular hearing exams if you are using any ototoxic medications or you can’t stay away from chemicals. We can use our experience to help you come up with a plan to avoid any further damage.