Most people know about 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. You can protect your quality of life by knowing what these chemicals are and what precautions to take.
Some chemicals could be harmful to your hearing
The word “ototoxic” means that something is toxic to either the ears themselves or the nerves in the ears that help with hearing. Specific chemicals are ototoxic, and individuals can be exposed to these chemicals in the workplace or at home. These chemicals can be breathed in, absorbed, or ingested. Once these chemicals get into the body, they can travel to the fragile nerves and other parts of the ear. Noise exposure will increase the negative impact, whether permanent or temporary, of ototoxic hearing loss.
Five kinds of chemicals that can harm your hearing were defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA:
- Pharmaceuticals – Your hearing can be damaged by medications that have antibiotics, analgesics, and diuretics. Consult your physician and your hearing health specialist about any hazards posed by your medications.
- Metals and compounds – Metals including lead and mercury can result in hearing loss in addition to the damage they can do to other parts of the body. Individuals could regularly be exposed to these metals if they work in the furniture or metal fabrication industries.
- Solvents – Solvents, such as carbon disulfide and styrene, are utilized in some industries such as insulation and plastics. Use all of your safety equipment and consult your workplace safety officer if you work in these industries.
- Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants decrease the amount of oxygen in the air and consist of things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Vehicles, gas tools, stoves, and other appliances could put out harmful amounts of these chemicals.
- Nitriles – Nitriles such as 3-Butenenitrile and acrylonitrile are used in producing products such as automotive rubber and seals, superglue, and latex gloves. Because nitriles repel water, they are beneficial, but they can also cause hearing loss.
What should you do if you’re exposed to ototoxic chemicals?
The ideal way to safeguard your hearing from chemical exposure is to take key precautions. 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, including gloves, masks, or garments, make use of all of it.
When you are at home, read all safety materials on products and follow the instructions to the letter. Use proper ventilation, including opening windows, keeping away from any chemicals, and asking for help if you are unable to understand any of the labels. Loud noise and chemicals can have a cumulative impact on your hearing so if you find yourself in this kind of situation, take extra precautions. If you can’t stay away from chemicals or are on medications, be certain you have regular hearing tests so you can attempt to nip any problems in the bud. We can use our experience to help you develop a plan to avoid any further damage.