There are lots of commonly known causes of hearing loss, but not many people recognize the dangers that some chemicals pose to their hearing. While there are several groups of people at risk, individuals in industries like textiles, petroleum, automotive, plastics, and metal fabrication have greater exposure. Being aware of what these hazardous chemicals are and what safeguards you should take can help preserve your quality of life.
Certain chemicals could be hazardous to your hearing
The ears themselves or the nerves of the ears can be toxically affected by anything that has an “ototoxic” effect. Certain chemicals are ototoxic, and individuals can be exposed to these chemicals at home and in the workplace. These chemicals can be breathed in, absorbed, or ingested. These chemicals can make their way 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.
Five types of chemicals that can damage your hearing were defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA:
- Nitriles – Nitriles such as 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 beneficial because they help repel water, but exposure can damage your hearing.
- Asphyxiants – The amount 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 may put out harmful levels of these chemicals.
- Pharmaceuticals – Drugs, including antibiotics, diuretics, and analgesics can harm your hearing. You can learn if any medications you may be using present any hazards to your hearing by talking with your physician and your hearing specialist.
- Metals and compounds – Metals such as mercury and lead have other harmful effects on the body, but they can also cause hearing loss. Individuals in the fabricated metal or furniture sectors might get exposed to these metals frequently.
- Solvents – Solvents, such as carbon disulfide and styrene, are employed in certain industries like insulation and plastics. Use all of your safety equipment and talk to your workplace safety officer if you work in these sectors.
If you are exposed to ototoxic chemicals, what should you do?
The best way to safeguard your hearing from chemical exposure is to take key precautions. If you work in an industry such as automotive, firefighting, plastics, pesticide spraying, or construction, consult your employer about exposure levels to these chemicals. You need to use all safety equipment your job provides, such as protective gloves, garments, and masks.
When you are at home, go over all safety materials on products and follow the instructions to the letter. If you can, keep away from any chemicals, open up windows, use proper ventilation, and request help with any instructions you don’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 can use our experience to help you come up with a plan to prevent any further damage.