There are many well recognized causes of hearing loss, but few people realize the dangers that some chemicals present to their hearing. Groups that are at risk include automotive workers, plastics, textiles, metal fabrication, and petroleum. 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 ears themselves or the nerves inside of the ears can be toxically impacted by anything that has an “ototoxic” effect. Specific chemicals are ototoxic, and people can be exposed to these chemicals at home and in the workplace. They can absorb these chemicals through the skin, inhale, or ingest them. These chemicals can make their way to the sensitive nerves of the ears once they enter the body. Noise exposure will increase the negative effects, whether permanent or temporary, of ototoxic hearing loss.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, defined five types of chemicals that can be harmful to hearing:
- Metals and compounds – Metals like mercury and lead have other adverse effects on the body, but they can also lead to hearing loss. People in the fabricated metal or furniture sectors may get exposed to these metals frequently.
- Nitriles – Nitriles like 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are used in making products such as automotive rubber and seals, super glue, and latex gloves. Nitrile-based products can be useful because they help repel water, but exposure can harm your hearing.
- Pharmaceuticals – Drugs, including antibiotics, diuretics, and analgesics can damage hearing. You can find out if any medications you may be using present any dangers to your hearing by talking with your physician and your hearing specialist.
- Solvents – Solvents, such as carbon disulfide and styrene, are utilized in certain industries like insulation and plastics. Use all of your safety equipment and speak with your workplace safety officer if you work in these industries.
- Asphyxiants – The level of oxygen in the air is decreased by asphyxiants, including things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Vehicles, gas tools, stoves, and other appliances could put out harmful levels of these chemicals.
What can you do if you’re exposed to ototoxic chemicals?
The ideal way to protect your hearing from chemical exposure is to take key precautions. Ask your employer about your degree of exposure to these chemicals if you work in the automotive, pesticide spraying, plastics, firefighting, or construction industries. Any safety equipment that is supplied to you, including gloves, masks, or garments, make use of all of it.
When you are at home, read all safety materials on products and follow the instructions to the letter. Use proper ventilation, including opening windows, keeping away from any chemicals, and asking for help if you can’t 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. If you can’t stay away from chemicals or are on medications, be certain you have regular hearing exams so you can try to nip any problems in the bud. We are experienced in addressing the numerous causes of hearing loss and can help you formulate a plan to prevent further damage.