Most people know about the common causes of hearing loss, but certain chemicals can also cause hearing loss which can come as a surprise. Groups that are at risk include automotive workers, plastics, textiles, metal fabrication, and petroleum. Knowing what these harmful chemicals are and what precautions you should take can help preserve your quality of life.
Some chemicals could be harmful to your hearing
The word “ototoxic” means that something has a toxic effect on either the ears themselves or the nerves inside of 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 could absorb these chemicals through the skin, breathe, or ingest them. These chemicals can make their way to the delicate nerves of the ears once they enter the body. The resulting hearing loss might be temporary or long-term, and the effect is even worse when noise exposure is also at high levels.
Five types of chemicals that can harm your hearing were recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA:
- 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. People may regularly be exposed to these metals if they’re in the furniture or metal fabrication industries.
- Solvents – Solvents, such as carbon disulfide and styrene, are employed in certain industries such as insulation and plastics. Wear all of your safety equipment and consult your workplace safety officer if you work in these sectors.
- Nitriles – Nitriles like 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are utilized in producing 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 damage your hearing.
- Asphyxiants – The level of oxygen in the air is decreased by asphyxiants, that includes things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Vehicles, gas tools, stoves, and other appliances could put out harmful amounts of these chemicals.
- Pharmaceuticals – Your hearing can be harmed by medications that have antibiotics, analgesics, and diuretics. You can learn if any medications you might be using present any dangers to your hearing by talking to your physician and your hearing specialist.
What can you do if you’re exposed to ototoxic chemicals?
The best 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. You need to utilize all safety equipment your job provides, such as protective gloves, garments, and masks.
When you are at home, read all safety labels on products and follow the instructions to the letter. If you can, stay away from any chemicals, open up windows, use proper ventilation, and ask for help with any instructions you can’t comprehend. Loud noise and chemicals can have a cumulative effect on your hearing so if you find yourself in this kind of scenario, take extra precautions. Try to keep a step ahead of hearing loss by having regular screenings if you are taking any ototoxic medications or you can’t stay away from chemicals. We are experienced in dealing with the various causes of hearing loss and can help you formulate a plan to avoid further damage.