There are lots of well known causes of hearing loss, but not many people realize the dangers that certain chemicals present to their hearing. While there are several groups of people at risk, individuals in industries such as textiles, petroleum, automotive, plastics, and metal fabrication have greater exposure. You can safeguard your quality of life by knowing what these chemicals are and what precautions to take.
Your hearing could be damaged by some chemicals
The word “ototoxic” means that something is toxic to either the ears themselves or the nerves inside of 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 breathed in, absorbed, or ingested. Once these chemicals get into 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 impact 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:
- Nitriles – Automotive rubber and seals, super glue and latex glove contain nitriles such as acrylonitrile and butenenitrile. Because nitriles repel water, they are useful, but they can also contribute to hearing loss.
- Solvents – Solvents, like carbon disulfide and styrene, are employed in some industries such as insulation and plastics. Wear all of your safety equipment and talk to your workplace safety officer if you work in these sectors.
- Metals and compounds – Metals like lead and mercury can cause hearing loss on top of the harm they can do to other parts of the body. Individuals could frequently be exposed to these metals if they work in the furniture or metal fabrication industries.
- Asphyxiants – The amount of oxygen in the air is reduced 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.
- Pharmaceuticals – Your hearing can be harmed by medications that have antibiotics, analgesics, and diuretics. Speak with your physician and your hearing health specialist about any hazards posed by your medications.
What should you do if you’re exposed to ototoxic chemicals?
Taking key precautions is the best way to safeguard your hearing from exposure to chemicals. If you work in an industry like automotive, firefighting, plastics, pesticide spraying, or construction, consult your employer about exposure levels to these chemicals. Any safety equipment that is supplied to you, like gloves, masks, or garments, use all of it.
Read and adhere to all of the safety instructions listed on product labels. If you can, stay away from any chemicals, open up windows, use proper ventilation, and request help with any instructions you don’t comprehend. Loud noise and chemicals can have a cumulative effect on your hearing so if you find yourself in this type of situation, use extra precautions. Try to stay a step ahead of hearing loss by getting regular screenings 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.