There are lots of commonly known causes of hearing loss, but few people realize the dangers that some chemicals pose to their hearing. While there are several groups of people at risk, people in industries like textiles, petroleum, automotive, plastics, and metal fabrication have increased exposure. You can safeguard your quality of life by knowing what these chemicals are and what precautions to take.
Your hearing could be harmed by some chemicals
The word “ototoxic” means that something is toxic to either the ears themselves or the nerves in the ears that help us hear. People can come in contact with chemicals that are “ototoxic” at home or in the workplace. They could absorb these chemicals through the skin, inhale, 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 effect is worse when noise exposure is also at high levels.
Five kinds of chemicals that can harm your hearing were identified by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA:
- Solvents – Solvents, like carbon disulfide and styrene, are utilized in some industries like insulation and plastics. Use all of your safety equipment and speak with your workplace safety officer if you work in these sectors.
- Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants lower the amount 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.
- Nitriles – Automotive rubber and seals, super glue and latex glove contain nitriles such as acrylonitrile and butenenitrile. Because nitriles repel water, they are beneficial, but they can also contribute to hearing loss.
- Pharmaceuticals – Drugs, such as antibiotics, diuretics, and analgesics can harm your hearing. Speak with your physician and your hearing health specialist about any dangers posed by your medications.
- Metals and compounds – Metals like mercury and lead have other harmful effects on the body, but they can also result in hearing loss. Individuals in the fabricated metal or furniture industries may get exposed to these metals frequently.
What should you do if you’re exposed to ototoxic chemicals?
Taking key precautions is the ideal way to safeguard your hearing from exposure to chemicals. Consult your employer about your level of exposure to these chemicals if you work in the automotive, pesticide spraying, plastics, firefighting, or construction industries. Whatever safety equipment that is supplied to you, like gloves, masks, or garments, use all of it.
When you are at home, go over all safety labels on products and adhere to the instructions to the letter. If you can, stay away from any chemicals, open up windows, use appropriate 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 kind of scenario, use extra precautions. If you can’t avoid chemicals or are on medications, be certain you have regular hearing examinations so you can try to nip any problems in the bud. We can use our experience to help you make a plan to prevent any further damage.