There are lots of commonly recognized causes of hearing loss, but not many people recognize the dangers that certain chemicals present to their hearing. At risk groups include automotive workers, plastics, textiles, metal fabrication, and petroleum. You can safeguard your quality of life by being aware of what these chemicals are and what precautions to take.
Some chemicals could be hazardous to your hearing
The word “ototoxic” means that something is toxic to either the ears themselves or the nerves in the ears that help us hear. Certain chemicals are ototoxic, and individuals can be exposed to these chemicals at home and in the workplace. They may absorb these chemicals through the skin, inhale, or ingest them. These chemicals can make their way to the delicate nerves of the ears once they get into the body. The resulting hearing loss could be temporary or permanent, and the effect is even worse when noise exposure is also at high levels.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, defined five kinds of chemicals that can be hazardous to hearing:
- Solvents – Certain industries such as plastics and insulation use solvents such as styrene and carbon disulfide in manufacturing. If you work in these industries, consult your workplace safety officer about the level of exposure you might have, and wear all of your safety equipment.
- Metals and compounds – Metals including lead and mercury can cause hearing loss in addition to the harm they can do to other parts of the body. People in the fabricated metal or furniture industries might get exposed to these metals often.
- Nitriles – Automotive rubber and seals, super glue and latex glove have nitriles including acrylonitrile and butenenitrile. Nitrile-based products can be useful because they help repel water, but exposure can damage your hearing.
- Pharmaceuticals – Drugs, such as antibiotics, diuretics, and analgesics can damage hearing. Consult your physician and your hearing health specialist about any dangers posed by your medications.
- Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants lower the amount of oxygen in the air and consist of things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Harmful amounts of these chemicals are frequently produced by things like stoves, gas engines, and other appliances.
If you are exposed to ototoxic chemicals, what should you do?
Taking key precautions is the best way to safeguard your hearing from exposure to chemicals. If you work in an industry such as 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, like protective gloves, garments, and masks.
When you are at home, go over all safety materials on products and adhere to the instructions to the letter. Use appropriate ventilation, including opening windows, staying away from any chemicals, and asking for help if you can’t decipher any of the labels. Loud noise and chemicals can have a cumulative effect on your hearing so if you find yourself in this type of situation, take extra precautions. Try to keep a step ahead of hearing loss by having regular hearing exams 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 prevent any further damage.