Most people recognize the common causes of hearing loss, but certain chemicals can also lead to hearing loss which can be surprising. While there are several groups of people at risk, individuals in industries like textiles, petroleum, automotive, plastics, and metal fabrication have greater exposure. Knowing what these hazardous chemicals are and what precautions you should take can help protect your quality of life.
Your hearing could be harmed by some chemicals
The word “ototoxic” means that something has a toxic effect on either the ears themselves or the nerves in the ears that help us hear. Specific chemicals are ototoxic, and individuals can be exposed to these chemicals at home and in the workplace. These chemicals can be breathed in, absorbed, or ingested. Once these chemicals get into the body, they can make their way to the fragile nerves and other parts of the ear. The resulting hearing loss might be temporary or long-term, and the impact is worse when noise exposure is also at high levels.
Five kinds of chemicals that can damage your hearing were recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA:
- Solvents – Solvents, such as carbon disulfide and styrene, are employed in certain industries such as insulation and plastics. Wear all of your safety equipment and speak with your workplace safety officer if you work in these industries.
- Metals and compounds – Metals such as mercury and lead have other negative effects on the body, but they can also result in hearing loss. Individuals in the fabricated metal or furniture sectors may get exposed to these metals frequently.
- Pharmaceuticals – Your hearing can be damaged by medications that have antibiotics, analgesics, and diuretics. You can learn if any medications you may be using pose any dangers to your hearing by talking to your physician and your hearing specialist.
- Asphyxiants – Asphyxiants decrease the amount of oxygen in the air and consist of things like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke. Harmful levels of these chemicals are frequently put out by things like stoves, gas engines, and other appliances.
- 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 cause hearing loss.
If you are exposed to ototoxic chemicals, what can you do?
The best way to safeguard your hearing from chemical exposure is to take key precautions. 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 provided to you, including gloves, masks, or garments, use all of it.
When you are at home, go over all safety labels on products and follow the instructions to the letter. If you can, keep away from any chemicals, open up windows, use proper ventilation, and request help with any instructions you can’t comprehend. Take extra precautions if you’re around noise at the same time as chemicals, as the two can have a cumulative effect on your hearing. Try to stay a step ahead of hearing loss by getting regular screenings if you are using any ototoxic medications or you can’t avoid chemicals. We are experienced in dealing with the various causes of hearing loss and can help you put together a plan to prevent further damage.