Most people recognize the common causes of hearing loss, but some chemicals can also cause hearing loss which can be surprising. At risk groups include automotive workers, plastics, textiles, metal fabrication, and petroleum. Being aware of what these harmful chemicals are and what precautions you should take can help preserve your quality of life.
Certain chemicals could be hazardous 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 us hear. People can be exposed to chemicals that are “ototoxic” at home or 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 get into the body. Noise exposure will increase the negative impact, whether permanent or temporary, of ototoxic hearing loss.
Five types of chemicals that can damage your hearing were recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA:
- Nitriles – Nitriles like 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are utilized 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 harm your hearing.
- Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants reduce the quantity of oxygen in the air and include 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 damaged by medications that have antibiotics, analgesics, and diuretics. You can determine if any medications you may be taking present any hazards to your hearing by talking with your physician and your hearing specialist.
- Solvents – Specific industries including plastics and insulation use solvents such as styrene and carbon disulfide in manufacturing. If you work in these fields, talk to your workplace safety officer about the level of exposure you might have, and use all of your safety equipment.
- Metals and compounds – Metals such as mercury and lead have other harmful effects on the body, but they can also lead to hearing loss. Individuals in the fabricated metal or furniture sectors may get exposed to these metals often.
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. If you work in an industry like automotive, firefighting, plastics, pesticide spraying, or construction, ask your employer about exposure levels to these chemicals. Make sure you utilize all safety equipment your job offers, such as protective gloves, garments, and masks.
Read and adhere to all of the safety guidelines listed on product labels. Use appropriate ventilation, including opening windows, staying away from any chemicals, and asking for help if you are unable to decipher any of the labels. Use extra safety measures if you’re around noise at the same time as chemicals, as the two can have a cumulative effect on your hearing. If you can’t avoid chemicals or are on medications, make sure you have regular hearing examinations so you can try to nip any problems in the bud. We can use our experience to help you come up with a plan to prevent any further damage.